New York City Hikes
|A white-tail deer on the bare bedrock leading to Hogencamp Mountain. (Photo © Skip Card)|
The open, rolling hilltops that surround Hogencamp Mountain in the high heart of Harriman State Park provide a bedrock landscape where every turn offers fascinating lessons in local geology. In many areas, shallow soil and destructive fires have thinned the trees, giving hikers a rare opportunity to enjoy wide tracts of open terrain. This lollipop loop curls around Hogencamp Mountain rather than across it, taking in the highlights of this strangely beautiful topography.
From County Route 106, head north on the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail (red dot on white) through hardwood forest toward Black Rock Mountain. The trail soon grows steeper and, in .4 mile, reaches a junction with the southern terminus of the Nurian Trail (white). Just past the junction, the trail rises to Black Rock, an outcrop offering a nearly 360-degree view of the surrounding tree-covered hills. Veer right and follow Ramapo-Dunderberg's red dots across a mostly open mountaintop dotted with smooth bedrock to a viewpoint at 1,382 feet, the highest point in Harriman State Park. Just beyond to your right stands the Bald Rocks Shelter, built in 1933 from massive slabs of local granite.
Another .3 mile of this undulating, open plateau brings you to a junction with the Dunning Trail (yellow). Continue straight on Ramapo-Dunning .5 mile over more bedrock to a junction with the Lichen Trail (blue "L" on white). Your route here turns left onto Lichen, but first detour 400 feet on Ramapo-Dunderberg to see Ship Rock, a 30-foot boulder with a curved lower edge that seems to be steaming into ... well, a tree. Impressed? Then retrace your steps back to the junction and follow the Lichen Trail north. Lichen passes a rock-edge viewpoint along Surebridge Mountain offering a glimpse of Island Pond before it hops off the rocks and descends to a junction with the aligned Long Path (bluish aquamarine) and the Arden-Surebridge Trail (inverted red triangle). Turn right.
About .6 mile of hiking along the edge of an old burn brings you to Surebridge Mine Road and, soon after, Times Square, a five-way trail intersection that looks nothing like Broadway and Seventh. Stay with the aquamarine blazes of the Long Path and head south, descending (mostly) through forest. About .7 mile from Times Square, the trail curls around the massive slabs known as Cape Horn and down past pits and slot shafts of the abandoned Hogencamp Mine, which pulled iron ore from this site until 1885. Soon the Long Path intersects with the Dunning Trail (yellow), which here follows an old mining road. Turn right onto Dunning.
Dunning curls south with the rocky road for .5 mile through mature forest and past more obscure mine pits. Veering west off the road, the trail slowly begins its ascent back to the intriguing bedrock on the southern edge of Hogencamp Mountain. Around 1,240 feet, the trail passes Bowling Rocks, a collection of erratic boulders set atop the bedrock like lawn balls. Beyond, the undulating path passes several seep springs as it crosses the remains of a burn where ferns and flowering hardhack now far outnumber trees.
Dunning meanders west through the Bald Rocks to a reunion with the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail. Turn left and, following the familiar red dot, retrace your initial 1.6 miles back to your starting point.
The Long Path, the Nurian Trail, and the Arden-Surebridge Trail all connect to this route from alternative starting points.
From the George Washington Bridge, take the first exit and head north on the Palisades Interstate Parkway to Exit 15 near Willow Grove and Stony Point. Head west on County Road 106 (also called Gate Hill Road) for 6.6 miles, past Lake Welch and the Kanawauke traffic circle, the junction with Seven Lakes Drive. About .25 mile west of Little Long Pond, look for two small shoulder parking areas near where the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail crosses the road.
Public transportation is not available to this trailhead, but hikers who take the bus to Southfields on Route 17 can follow the Nurian Trail 3.4 miles east to a junction with Ramapo-Dunderberg near Black Rock. For details, call 800/631-8405, www.shortlinebus.com.
Information and Contact
There are no hiking fees. Parking is free, but limited. Dogs must be leashed. Bikes are not allowed on footpaths. Trails are shown on Map 4 of the Harriman/Bear Mountain Trails series from the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. For more information, contact Harriman State Park, c/o Palisades Interstate Park Commission, Bear Mountain, NY 10911, 845/786-2701, www.nysparks.com.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication