West Mountain Ridge Hike – Harriman State Park

April 29, 2017 – Tomkins Cove, NY

Difficulty: strenuous

Length: approximately 6.7 miles

Max elevation: 1,247 ft.– total elevation gain: 1,076 ft.

Route type: circuit

Trails:

Map: Harriman-Bear Mountain Trails Map #119

Trailhead parking: Anthony Wayne Recreation Area

 

From time to time I have parked at the Anthony Wayne Recreation Area and while gazing up at the rock outcrops atop West Mountain, I have seen people standing there and seemingly admiring the view. I decided that I wanted to hike the ridge and see what the view was like. I didn’t know that it was called West Mountain until I did a little research. I also discovered that the Appalachian Trail runs along the western ridge and a stone shelter is located on the southern ridge. I then planned out a hike that covered both. This turned out to be an excellent hike with views galore in all directions. Looking at the Google Earth image below, we did this hike in a counter clockwise direction.

West Mountain hike route

West Mountain hike route

It was a wonderful day for a hike with the temperature in the mid 60’s when we began and then hovering around 80 degrees and partly cloudy throughout the rest of the day. We arrived at the parking area at around 8:45 am and once geared up, we headed southeast across a grass field towards the park road.

grass field

grass field

We proceeded to cross the park road and walking along the side of the road, we began to follow the blue-on-white diamond blazes of the Horn Hill Loop Mountain Bike Trail.

Horn Hill Loop Mountain Bike Trail

Horn Hill Loop Mountain Bike Trail

We continued past the entrance ramp to the Palisades Interstate Parkway and into the next parking area that had some trucks parked there.

next parking area

next parking area

Continuing on the gravel path to the southernmost end of the parking area towards the edge of the woods, we came to a kiosk.

kiosk

kiosk

We now headed into the woods still following the blue-on-white diamond blazes.

blue-on-white diamond blazes

blue-on-white diamond blazes

The trail passes through a pine forest and crosses several bridges.

bridge

bridge

We then crossed a junction with the white-blazed Appalachian Trail, and soon afterwards, reached a junction with the red-on-white-blazed Ramapo-Dunderberg (R-D) Trail and turned left.

red-on-white-blazed Ramapo-Dunderberg (R-D) Trail

red-on-white-blazed Ramapo-Dunderberg (R-D) Trail

The R-D Trail begins to climb West Mountain, gradually at first, then after reaching some stone steps, the grade steepens. The R-D on the south crown of West Mountain was marked in 1920 by A.B. Malcolmson.

Myles, William J.. Harriman Trails: A Guide and History (Kindle Location 1977). New York – New Jersey Trail Conference. Kindle Edition.

red-on-white-blazed Ramapo-Dunderberg (R-D) Trail

red-on-white-blazed Ramapo-Dunderberg (R-D) Trail

The trail then crosses Beechy Bottom East Road which is marked with the blue-on-white blazes of the Horn Hill Bike Path.

Beechy Bottom East Road

Beechy Bottom East Road

The R-D Trail continues its steady ascent through mountain laurel.

The R-D Trail

The R-D Trail

After passing a gully, the trail again becomes steep as it climbs the mountain over boulders.

Ramapo-Dunderberg (R-D) Trail

Ramapo-Dunderberg (R-D) Trail

This was turning out to be quite a vigorous hike. Although beautiful, the trails were at times unrelenting. There were many instances where we were required to use our hands as well as our feet.

Ramapo-Dunderberg (R-D) Trail

Ramapo-Dunderberg (R-D) Trail

After climbing the boulders, the trail turns left and narrows, as it passes by a huge rock formation.

Ramapo-Dunderberg (R-D) Trail

Ramapo-Dunderberg (R-D) Trail

Then we came to our first views of the day and a well deserved break to enjoy them. While resting at this spot a scattered group of hikers passed by. They were the only people we saw up to this point.

view south from Ramapo-Dunderberg (R-D) Trail

view south from Ramapo-Dunderberg (R-D) Trail

After resting up, we continued up the rocky trail which led us towards a rock outcrop.

Ramapo-Dunderberg (R-D) Trail

Ramapo-Dunderberg (R-D) Trail

After a short but steep climb, we came to the junction of the Ramapo-Dunderberg (R-D) Trail and Suffern-Bear Mountain (S-BM) Trail. Looking southeast, the Hudson River and surrounding hills are visible.

junction of the Ramapo-Dunderberg (R-D) Trail and Suffern-Bear Mountain (S-BM) Trail

junction of the Ramapo-Dunderberg (R-D) Trail and Suffern-Bear Mountain (S-BM) Trail

The two trails now run together briefly for about 300 feet on a fairly level tract as we proceeded up the mountain. This section of the S-BM Trail, from Cats Elbow to Bear Mountain Inn was first scouted by Raymond Torrey in 1926.

joint Ramapo-Dunderberg (R-D) Trail and Suffern-Bear Mountain (S-BM) Trail

joint Ramapo-Dunderberg (R-D) Trail and Suffern-Bear Mountain (S-BM) Trail

After climbing a ledge, the two trails split. Turning left, we were now following the yellow blazes of the S-BM Trail.

joint Ramapo-Dunderberg (R-D) Trail and Suffern-Bear Mountain (S-BM) Trail

joint Ramapo-Dunderberg (R-D) Trail and Suffern-Bear Mountain (S-BM) Trail

The trail passes through a section of the forest that is newly rejuvenated after having been damaged by fire some years ago.

Suffern-Bear Mountain (S-BM) Trail

Suffern-Bear Mountain (S-BM) Trail

The S-BM Trail then descends into a valley, crosses a small stream and then begins to climb again, passing by some interesting looking rock formations.

rock formation

rock formation

After climbing some more, the trail briefly levels off…..

Suffern-Bear Mountain (S-BM) Trail

Suffern-Bear Mountain (S-BM) Trail

then reaches a t-intersection with the blue-blazed Timp-Torne Trail. We planted ourselves on a rock and rested from all the climbing. The Timp-Torne Trail was the second trail built by the new Palisades Interstate Park Trail Conference, in the winter of 1921. It was considered to be a branch of the R-D Trail, which had been built in 1920.

joint blue-blazed Timp-Torne Trail and Suffern-Bear Mountain (S-BM) Trail

joint blue-blazed Timp-Torne Trail and Suffern-Bear Mountain (S-BM) Trail

Now on the ridge of West Mountain, we turned right and began following the joint blue-blazed Timp-Torne Trail and the yellow-blazed Suffern-Bear Mountain (S-BM) Trail. There are several views to the south along the trail from rock outcrops.

view south

view south

I thought that once we were on the ridge, the trail would level off and it would be an easy hike the rest of the way. I was mistaken, there are quite a few ups and downs over rocky terrain all along the ridge.

joint Timp-Torne Trail and Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail

joint Timp-Torne Trail and Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail

In about 1/3 of a mile from the t-intersection, the trails split. As the yellow-blazed trail goes off to the left, we veered right and stayed on the blue-blazed trail. In about 500 feet, we arrived at the West Mountain Shelter. This shelter was built in 1928, with burros being used to carry up the lumber and cement. We were now about halfway through our hike.

West Mountain Shelter

West Mountain Shelter

The stone structure with a wood floor and shingled roof was refurbished in the fall of 2014. This shelter sits at an elevation of 1240 feet with views of the Hudson Valley to the southeast.

West Mountain Shelter

West Mountain Shelter

Needless to say, the view from here is magnificent. From what I read, it offers the best views of any of the shelters in Harriman State Park. With views of the Hudson River and the surrounding hills, who can argue with that?

view from West Mountain Shelter

view from West Mountain Shelter

We stopped here and had some lunch, as did numerous other people. To be honest, I was a little worn down already and could have stayed here for a lot longer than we did, but we had a hike to do. Retracing our steps back along the blue-blazed Timp-Torne Trail, passing the t-intersection where we turned earlier, we continued straight and arrived at a western facing viewpoint. This is also where the white-blazed Appalachian Trail joins the blue-blazed Timp-Torne Trail from the left.

blue-blazed Timp-Torne Trail

blue-blazed Timp-Torne Trail

When researching this hike, I noticed that on the trail map there were ten stars (the stars denote the viewpoints) on the map along the north-south section of the ridge. This was the first of many viewpoints we would encounter on this stretch of trail.

view west from Timp-Torne Trail

view west from Timp-Torne Trail

Now heading north and following both the white and blue blazes, the trail travels along the ridge over rocky terrain.

Timp-Torne Trail

Timp-Torne Trail

At this point, we had hiked almost 4 miles and were starting to tire. Not only are there numerous ups and downs, but at times you have to scramble over the numerous boulders that line the trail. The views are definitely worth it though. We came to a another viewpoint with Bear Mountain visible to the north.

Bear Mountain visible to the north

Bear Mountain visible to the north

Continuing on, the trail turns right at a western facing viewpoint.

western facing viewpoint

western facing viewpoint

Looking northwest, the Palisades Interstate Parkway and the Anthony Wayne parking area is visible below.

Looking northwest

Looking northwest

As we proceeded on the trail, we arrived at a rock outcrop that had a strange looking boulder sitting on the edge of the cliff.

strange looking boulder

strange looking boulder

Although rugged, the trail along the ridge is quite scenic. The views are outstanding and the terrain is so varied that it kept the hike interesting.

Timp-Torne Trail

Timp-Torne Trail

We came to another rock outcrop that offers a view southwest of the Harriman hills and beyond.

view southwest

view southwest

Passing another cool rock formation, the trail climbs yet again.

rock formation

rock formation

The Timp-Torne Trail climbs around the side of a glacial erratic then turns left.

Timp-Torne Trail

Timp-Torne Trail

We stopped alongside the glacial erratic and took a quick break in the shade.

glacial erratic

glacial erratic

This trail never lets up as it climbs open rock slabs rather steeply. We were worn down, but kept it moving. The end was now in sight, we had now hiked about 5 miles.

Timp-Torne Trail

Timp-Torne Trail

The trail changes from open rock to a rocky footpath over undulating terrain as it passes several more viewpoints.

view northwest from Timp-Torne Trail

view northwest from Timp-Torne Trail

When we reached a y-intersection where the white-blazed Appalachian Trail veers right, we stayed left to remain on the blue-blazed Timp-Torne Trail.

y-intersection

y-intersection

The trail then begins a rather steep descent over open rock slabs. Relying on the grip of our boots, this section would be difficult if not hazardous, in wet conditions.

Timp-Torne Trail

Timp-Torne Trail

After climbing a little, the trail leads to a north facing viewpoint with Bear Mountain and Perkins Memorial Tower directly in front of us.

Bear Mountain and Perkins Memorial Tower

Bear Mountain and Perkins Memorial Tower

Also visible just to the left of Bear Mountain is Popolopen Torne and its bald peak.

Popolopen Torne

Popolopen Torne

The trail resumes its descent and reaches an intersection with the red-“F”-on-white blazed Fawn Trail. We turned left and continued down West Mountain.

red-“F”-on-white blazed Fawn Trail

red-“F”-on-white blazed Fawn Trail

The Fawn Trail ends at a junction with the white-blazed Anthony Wayne Trail at Beechy Bottom East Road.

end of Fawn Trail

end of Fawn Trail

Turning left onto Beechy Bottom East Road, marked with blue-on-white diamond blazes, we now began heading south. We were finally on level ground and it felt great. The road was muddy and swampy in places, but a joy to walk as we neared the end.

Beechy Bottom East Road

Beechy Bottom East Road

When we reached a y-intersection, the blue-on-white diamond blazes of the bike trail bears left, but we took the right fork…….

y-intersection

y-intersection

and continued walking on the unpaved road…….

unpaved road

unpaved road

which led us to an area with picnic tables where we sat for a few minutes before proceeding ahead back to the parking area where our hike began.

Anthony Wayne parking area

Anthony Wayne parking area

I have to say that this was a tough hike, but very rewarding. The trails were challenging at times and made us stay alert throughout most of the hike. The views were never ending and the weather cooperated as well. A great way to spend a Saturday in the Hudson Valley. I hope that you enjoyed the hike and please don’t forget to follow my blog. Now get out there and take a hike!

Pros: Challenging trails, many spectacular views, stone shelter, ample parking, well blazed trails, rock formations and glacial erratics, varied terrain.

Cons: I can’t think of any.

Take a hike!

Take a hike!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “West Mountain Ridge Hike – Harriman State Park

  1. Great description.

    The AT portion and the Shelter had a fair number of hikers (Labor Day weekend) – but much of the time we were on our own.

    Viewpoints, in all directions, were great, and they kept coming.

    And there were little sweet spots, like in the young forest, or on the Fawn, that just made us sigh.

    Agree with you, I’d be concerned about going down when the rocks are wet.

    Thank you,

    Jonathan

    Like

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