Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Just a shout-out to our new blog friend: http://www.bikinghikingwithkids.com/

Eric, the blog owner, has some great info on his site. Please stop in, have a cup of tea, take a look around, and support our fellow outdoor blogger.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Guest Post: Jackie Jones Mtn Fire Tower

Another fine guest post by L&O.....

Thanks again L&O! You're the best!

Big Hill Shelter & Jackie Jones Mountain Fire Tower
NYNJ Trail Conference Map 118-Harriman Park-Southern
I began my trek by parking on a turnoff near St. Johns in the Wilderness Church located on Johnsontown Road, Harriman State Park. I found my way to the aqua-blazed Long Path and trudged along through beautiful valleys and hemlock groves. I spotted a few white-tailed deer as I crossed Beaver Brook Pond and continued gradually upward along the Long Path. As the path ascends, don't forget to look behind you, for you will be rewarded with intermittent views of the Hudson River. Cross over Old Turnpike Road (really a woods road) and continue along the Long Path. Shortly, you will arrive at Big Hill Shelter and its amazing views. Big Hill Shelter, built in 1927, has three stone fireplaces. Raymond Torrey scouted the Big Hill Shelter site in March of 1927. The shelter was empty when I arrived, so I sat inside and enjoyed the views from it. I headed north and began following the yellow-blazed Suffern-Bear Mountain trail. The trail steadily ascends as the Long Path veers off to the right. Continue on the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail until it reaches the Jackie Jones Mountain Fire Tower. Now, this was a treat! You are able to climb to the top of the tower; however, the top floor is inaccessible. Use extreme caution when climbing the tower stairs, as some are a bit loose and beginning to rot. The view from the top was incredible, even on an overcast day. If you look to the north, you will see Lake Welch and an enormous AT&T microwave tower, built in 1947; to the west is the Hudson River. The fire tower is a steel tower erected in 1928, but it is no longer in operation. I chose to begin a little bushwhacking after the fire tower to get back to Route 106 and my vehicle, however, if you follow the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail from the fire tower you will reach the ruins of ORAK, which are a must see!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Guest Post: High Tor Hike by L&O

Thanks L & O!

High Tor, Little Tor and South Mountain Park and Gurnee County Park
All Long Path
Map 112-Hudson Palisades Trails
7-1/2 miles

With my irreplaceable hiking partner “Northeast Hiking” diligently earning her degree in Ecology, I am sadly hitting the trails without her. I parked my car on a turnoff on Route 9W and Route 304 and crossed Route 9W to connect with the Long Path. The first mile or so is mainly road walking (Scratchup Road), however, the trail is surrounded by beauty on both sides; an apple orchard and the amazing rock cut from the Tilcon Quarry. I also spotted a few deers in the orchard. I followed the Long Path until it reached Old Route 304, then I followed the LP blazes as they turned right off the road and steadily climbed toward High Tor Mountain. The renowned author/playwright Maxwell Anderson, a long time Rockland County resident wrote a play entitled High Tor after the mountain. After a long climb, I encountered the Spur Trail, which leads to the historic High Tor Vineyards. I trudged along, opting to go explore the Vineyards another day. Steadily, I climbed until I reached High Tor Mountain. The views were amazing, and included the Hudson River and the Village of Haverstraw. During the American Revolution, the troops used High Tor Mountain as a place to signal. There are the remains of an old radio tower and lots and lots of graffiti. I descended High Tor Mountain and followed the LP to a lovely woods road. I followed the woods roads for what seemed to be two miles and found the White Trail which leads to Little Tor. The view from Little Tor was not as dramatic as High Tor, but well worth the short hike. I doubled back to the Long Path and continued on the woods road until I reached Central Highway. I crossed Central Highway and continued on the Long Path. The trail here gets more technical and steadily ascends. The ascent brings you to the Gurnee County Park with its amazing vistas. Although the signs posted on the trees warned me to “Do Not Approach, Ground Unstable” I took a peek and was rewarded with a view of the Rampo Mountains and Harriman State Park. The Long Path descends pleasantly to Gurnee County Park. I followed the Long Path onto Route 45 and rewarded myself with a nice breakfast at the Mt. Ivy Diner.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Smokey Says...

Remember, Only YOU can prevent forest fires!

Orak Ruin

Just a small day hike today, just to get out and play in the nice weather. We started out in Harriman State Park on route 106 at an unmarked parking area (more like a pull-off), you will see yellow-blazes on the guardrails and trees. Using the NY/NJ Trail Conference map 118, we headed up the yellow-blazed Suffern-Bear Mountain trail on the same side as the parking area. What a great little hike! No rocks! Mountain laurel! Nice (this time of year with no leaves) views! In less than 30 minutes you will hike to the Orak Ruin. The ruin, as the story goes, was formerly the mansion owned by George Briggs Buchanan. Mr. Buchanan was the V.P. of Corn Products Refining Co. (the makers of Karo syrup). He named his estate Orak (Karo backwards) and seemed to be a quirky fella. When he built his dining room, he designed the floor to move like a ship's cabin, he even added portholes for windows. I'd give anything to go back in time to the 1920's, all the strange history seems to come from that era. We played there for a while, a lot of the foundation is still standing, but watch your step, there are a lot of old pieces of metal laying around. Back on the trail, where at times you can view the Hudson River, it's just a short hike to a fire tower. Now (this is where my love for Sterling Forest comes in), unlike the Sterling Forest fire tower, you can't get near this one. But, boy! is it big! After staring in awe of its size, we just followed the fire tower road back down the mountain until we met up with the yellow-blazed trail again. Retracing the trail back down, we stopped once again to play in the ruins, but this time, some small cabins across from the Orak ruin. Then we followed the trail back to the road, but now we crossed the road and followed the yellow-blazed Suffern-Bear Mountain trail the other way toward the "Irish Potato". Again, a very relaxing, easy hike. Just follow the yellow-blazed trail as it ascends Irish Mountain. At the summit, you will find the largest boulder you have ever seen, this is the Irish Potato. It's more impressive when you take a picture of someone standing next to it for proportion. After playing with the rock tripe on the boulder, we headed back down, following the yellow-blazed trail back to the car. Not a big hike, but I didn't break any bones, and in my book, that's always a good day.