Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Harriman State Park, NY - Bottle Cap Trail

Harriman State Park - New York State Parks

GPS Coordinates 41.275333, -74.088773
Lake Tiorati Parking Lot - Note that Arden Valley Road beyond the parking lot is closed from Dec 1 - Apr 1 so you have to get there via Seven Lakes Drive.

Northern Harriman Bear Mountain Trails Map #119 - NY/NJ Trail Conference
Harriman Trail Map - New York State Parks
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HIKE DISTANCE:  7.8 miles

One last vacation day to use up in 2016 so I set off again without Shawnee and headed to Harriman State Park where the trails are now too difficult for her.
Lake Tiorati at the crack of dawn.
This little white-breasted nuthatch was playing around with me in the parking lot but it wasn't light enough to get good pictures of him.
I parked right next to the trailhead for the blue-blazed trail.
This trail ascends to...
... two water towers.
Just beyond the water towers, left on the Appalachian Trail/Ramapo Dunderberg Trail.
This would be the Fingerboard Shelter on the ...
... blue-blazed Hurst Trail which is where I was heading.
That sign earlier said closed August 1 - October 31.  I think it is still closed.
The blue-blazed Hurst Trail is a little hard to follow but that could also be because the blinding rising sun was in my eyes.
The blue trail descends and ends at a woods road.  Left goes to Seven Lakes Drive.  I turned right.
My plan was to hike the unmaintained Bottle Cap Trail but would it be easy to find?  Would it be in good enough shape to follow?  Things I read online did not look promising but I had a backup plan just in case.
And there it is, the start of the Bottle Cap Trail with a marker and a cairn and definitely noticeable from the woods road.
There were actually a LOT of bottle caps leading the way.  Some were easy to see...
... others not.  Can you see the bottle cap on this tree? 
A sampling of some of the bottle cap markers.
Sometimes there is a well-defined path and where things got confusing there would usually be a cairn.
Some sections have an abundance of bottle cap markers.
There has even been some trail maintenance at times, actually very few blow downs to step over,
Some winter views.
It was just me and the dark-eyed juncos, not another soul around.  Even the bears could hear me crunching in the frozen snow from miles away so I did not have to worry about startling them.
A cairn where the Bottle Cap Trail crosses the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail.  This is about the half way point of the Bottle Cap Trail so if you have had enough you can get off here but I was actually enjoying it so I forged on.  There were a handful of times when the trail was hard to find but I always did end up finding it and it didn't happen so often that it became annoying.
The beautiful terrain continues on.
Passing a mine on the right and shortly thereafter ...
... a cairn where the Bottle Top Trail crosses Surebridge Mine Road.  Another out if you so desire, but not for me, continuing on.
Crossing Surebridge Brook
Some ruins right after the brook.
Wow, a whole can!  Now that was easy to see.
This completes the Bottle Cap Trail which ran about 1.8 miles and all-in-all was a lot of fun and not all that hard to follow.
It ends at the Long Path/Arden-Surebridge Trail where I turned right then ...
... right again when the Long Path left to the right.
Creek crossing on tree roots.
Dismal Swamp
Critter tracks on the Long Path.
Staying on the Long Path crossing over the Appalachian Trail.
Arden House
The unmaintained shelter, as indicated on the map.
The trail becomes very rocky and through this section and here you can either limbo under or hurdle over 3 water pipes.
More rocks.
When the Long Path crosses Arden Valley Road...
... right on Arden Valley Road uphill to the top of the hill ...
... then right on the Appalachian Trail/Ramapo-Dunderberg trail towards the water towers.
Left on blue just before the water towers...
...back to the parking lot.


  1. Looks like a great trail. Harriman is a nice park. I used to take the Pine Meadow lake trail which is very nice. I heard some of the roads were closed there. Glad you were able to get through where you wanted to go. I missed Shawnee but I understand that you can't take her on the rough trails. Thanks for sharing! Joanne from NJ

    1. They do close some roads in the winter but it doesn't mean there aren't alternate routes, or you just have to hike a little farther. I was thinking the entire hike how rare it was to not run into anyone, even on a weekday, then when I drove past Reeves Meadow parking where you access the Pine Meadow Lake Trail, it was PACKED along with all of the other parking spots along Seven Lakes Drive. I actually just read an article about how bad the litter has become in that area. So sad that people cannot be responsible. The area I was in must have really been remote because there was no litter at all.


  2. You are an early bird! I wish I weren't so lazy and I could get to the trailhead for sunrise - maybe someday. I like the idea of recycling the bottle caps for trial markers. I'm wondering if they have a way to recycle those stupid mylar balloons - I found a couple of them at Cushetunk Preserve a couple weeks ago.


    1. I think once you get there at sunrise, you might be hooked. No traffic, nobody on the trails yet and the sun coming up makes everything especially beautiful. Yeah, those stupid mylar balloons. Well, start a collection and we can make it a competition to see who finds the most. Why not make lemonade out of lemons :)


  3. We've hiked several routes from Tiorati and have liked all of them. As you say, a bit more remote for some reason. Your hike has enough variation on one we've done that it's now a "must do Daniela" (as we call those hikes). :) BTW: do you carry stabilicers or some kind of traction devices at this time of year if you run into some more dicey winter terrain?


    1. LOL, you are too funny, Linda! Yes, I carry Kahtoolas but I never needed them on this hike because the snow was the once-partially-thawed-then-refrozen kind that was really crunchy and actually provided good traction. It was never smooth and icy. But that was then. Today might be a whole other story.