Saturday, May 26, 2012

Appalachian Trail, NY - Eastern Pinnacles, Cat Rocks, Fitzgerald Falls

Hiking the AT in NY and NJ - New York New Jersey Trail Conference
Terrain by Region: New York - Appalachian Trail Conservancy

GPS Coordinates 41.244104, -74.286587

View Larger Map
(Heading West) There is an island between Continental Lane (left) and Route 17A (right) where there are a few parking spots along Continental Lane and also opposite the hot dog stand in the island.
Parking in island at opposite end of hot dog stand.

Sterling Forest Trails Map 100 - New York New Jersey Trail Conference
Note:  Map does not show blue-blazed bypass trails that are used in this hike.

To Fitzgerald Falls and back - 8.25 miles
To Highlands Trail viewpoint and back - 10.65 miles

APPALACHIAN TRAIL SECTION HIKING: - AT section miles 1354.3 to 1359.3

Start the hike by turning right from the parking area and walking along Route 17A.  It's not that far but if you watch for a faint path into the woods on the left you can cut the road walk short.  Follow that path to the blue-blazed trail, turn right and then left when the blue trail ends and you meet up with the white-blazed Appalachian Trail.
Mountain laurel in bloom along the trail.
Cat Rocks
Blooming mountain laurel.
Crossing Lakes Road to Fitzgerald Falls.
Through a power cut with dense vegetation.
Bridge over Trout Brook
Fitzgerald Falls - the AT ascends steeply to the right of the falls.
Looking back down the steep ascent.
Smaller cascades at the top.
Trail register where the AT turns left and the Highland Trails turns right; go right on the Highlands Trail following the blue blazes a short distance to a view which is the turn around point for this hike.
There is more to see from this viewpoint but it was a very humid and hazy day so visibility was poor.
The blue-blazed bypass trail around Fitzgerald Falls - a very pleasant trail as an alternative to making the steep descent along the falls.
After crossing Lakes Road, it's a climb back up to the ridge with lots of water breaks on this hot and humid day.
Taking the blue bypass trail around Cat Rocks on the way back to conserve energy for the Eastern Pinnacles which we bypassed on the way out because of thick fog and wet, slippery rock surfaces.
Lots of mountain laurel on the blue bypass trail around Cat Rocks.
Ascending Eastern Pinnacles.  There are two blue-blazed bypass trails, one before the rock scramble up and another after climbing up so you have an out if you need it.  I found Cat Rocks to be a more vertical scramble but shorter than Eastern Pinnacles.
New north from Eastern Pinnacles, again with poor visibility on a hazy and humid day.  You can see Cat Rocks on the left, zoomed in, below.
Cat Rocks from Eastern Pinnacle - you can see the white AT blaze on the right side of the rocks towards the top.
Heading south over Eastern Pinnacles.
Viewing platform at the end of the blue-blazed trail near Route 17A.
Another hazy view from the platform.
Somebody was very happy there was a hot dog stand in the parking lot.

[  0.00]  Turn right from parking lot and walk along Route 17A
[  0.10]  Turn left on faint path into woods (or continue on Route 17A until AT turns left into woods)
[  0.15]  Turn right on blue-blazed trail
[  0.20]  Blue trail ends, turn left on white-blazed Appalachian Trail
[  0.75]  Rock hop creek then cross pipeline
[  1.30]  Left on blue-blazed bypass trail when AT goes right to Eastern Pinnacles
[  1.50]  Blue bypass trail ends, continue on white-blazed AT
[  1.80]  Stay left on white-blazed AT to ascend Cat Rocks when blue bypass trail goes right
[  1.85]  After descending Cat Rocks, continue on AT when blue bypass trail comes in from right
[  2.10]  Keep straight on AT when blue side trail to left leads to Wildcat Shelter
[  2.15]  Other end of blue trail from shelter comes in to the left
[  2.95]  Right at fork
[  3.45]  Left at fork
[  3.50]  Unmarked trail crosses over
[  3.65]  Cross paved Lakes Road
[  3.70]  Cross power cut then bridge over Trout Brook
[  3.85]  Keep right on AT when blue-blazed trail goes left (Falls bypass trail for return route)
[  3.95]  Fitzgerald Falls, AT continues on steep ascent along right side of falls
[  4.05]  Rock hop to left over creek, keep right on AT when blue bypass trail goes left (or turn left on blue for 8.3 mile hike)
[  4.15]  Cross woods road
[  5.10]  Trail register; AT goes left, turn right on Highlands Trail following blue blazes
[  5.15]  Views; retrace
[  5.20]  Left on AT at trail register for return route
[  6.25]  Cross woods road
[  6.35]  Right on blue bypass trail when AT turns left and crosses creek
[  6.65]  Turn right on Appalachian Trail when blue ends
[  6.80]  Cross bridge over Trout Brook then pass through power cut
[  6.85]  Cross paved Lakes Road
[  8.30]  Keep straight on AT when blue trail to shelter goes right
[  8.65]  Turn left on blue bypass trail with AT goes right up Cat Rocks
[  8.70]  Blue trail ends, continue on AT
[  9.00]  Keep left on AT and ascent Eastern Pinnacles when blue-blazed bypass trail goes right
[  9.10]  Second bypass option at blue blaze painted on rock to the right
[  9.15]  Other end of second blue bypass trail comes in on the right
[  9.20]  Other end of first blue bypass trail comes in on the right
[  9.70]  Cross pipeline then rock hop creek
[10.25]  Straight on blue when AT turns left to Route 17A
[10.30]  Straight on blue when side path to left leads to Route 17A
[10.45]  Overlook deck; retrace
[10.55]  Turn right on side path to Route 17A, turn right on Route 17A back to parking
[10.65]  Back at parking


  1. Lucky Shawnee- it looks like she was eyeing up those hot dogs at the start of the hike!! She deserves it!!
    I think my dogs want to do that lovely hike now, especially with a hot dog at the end!!

    1. Believe it or not, this was her first hot dog EVER in her entire 11 years and did she ever snarf it down! I want to do another section from that same parking lot so I think I had better make sure I bring cash along because I am too sure she is going to remember that.


  2. Did part of this trail today and the boys reaaly liked it. The views were awesome even in the 90 degree heat. Hotdog stand was closed but we went to the creamery just up the road and it tasted sooo good. (We had been there before when coming from other direction. Hope to have Bear Mountain Bridge to Wind Gap PA done during summer. My question is what do you do about ticks for you and Shawnee? As always thanks for your great posts and we may stop to stand on trail in VA on our way to NC beach this summer. Flippertree for Autism

    1. I think you had a much better day for views than I did. It was awfully hazy on Saturday so there wasn't much to see.

      If you can swing it, try to do the McAfee Knob hike on your way to NC. I believe it is about 7 miles out and back from the Hwy 311 parking lot which is not too far off of I-81 at all. I promise you, it's something your boys will remember forever! It would break up the drive nicely for you, too :)

      I keep flea and tick preventative on Shawnee ALWAYS yet she has popped positive for Lyme disease 3 times in the past two years. Whether she was reinfected or the original infection resurrected, we will never know, but the vet wants to put her on a month of Doxycycline once a year just because of her high exposure and high risk. The purpose is to keep her from developing kidney problems from the Lyme infections. So far her kidneys are fine. I have used Frontline Plus on her (she was first infected while using that) then changed to K9-Advantix and am now using Vectra 3D which the vet swore will work yet in Virginia I pulled a very alive tick off of her 12 hours after we had been hiking - it should have at least been sluggish if not dead from the Vectra 3D and it was not. So basically, it's a risk we take and there is no foolproof preventative that I have found. I have myself tested along with regular blood work every year and so far I have been negative for Lyme disease. Deep Woods OFF seems to do the trick for me although I occasionally do find one of the nasty buggers on me. Ugh.


    2. We use Deep Woods also and take shower immediately when we get home. Still have pulled off a few. The irony is that my non-hiking wife had Lyme disease last year and it had to be from yard work. She is o.k. now. Shawnee is just like all of us she has to keep on hiking. Thanks, Flippertree for Autism

  3. We went to Sterling Forest recently - and the number of ticks we had was insane. Between 2 of us and 2 dogs, we pulled off 100 ticks on the evening of the hike. I had 5 tick bites, plus others crawling on me. I spent an hour bathing the dogs when we got home - pulling off tick after tick. They are on Frontline. I'm going to talk to my vet the next time I bring them in, to see if there is anything more effective. The following two days we pulled off around 40 more each day on the dogs - plus found many dead ones on the floor & our couches. Never have we had so many ticks from a hike. I should ask my doctor to start testing myself annually too. I never thought of that. My vet tests my dogs annually - and for the past 2 years both dogs have tested positive for exposure to lyme & anaplasmosis. He then takes a urine sample to test for something being excreted in the urine (they tested negative for that). Since they urine test is negative, and they haven't been symptomatic (no lameness), so far he hasn't treated them for lyme.

    Here are photos from that hike - we won't be repeating this hike unless it is winter!

  4. Hi (Gone Hiking), I really appreciate your blog. My girlfriend and I are planning on hiking this weekend and we came your useful tips and directions here. We will be coming from NYC. As first hikers, is there any more tips you would give us? Any do and donts? Areas not to explore and what not? I will be printing out your Hiking Summary for sure and will comment back my experience. I look forward to hearing from you! Thank you!

    1. Thanks! Check out NJ Hiking's site - they have all of the info available that you need.


  5. Hello-

    Do you have a map of the area showing the trails? I am looking to go with my dog next weekend!



    1. You would need to purchase the New York New Jersey Trail Conference Sterling Forest map which is well worth it. The link for getting the map is at the top of the post.