Rockhouse Mountain, Lake Askoti and Pine Swamp Mountain Loop – Harriman State Park

June 3, 2017 – Southfields, NY

Difficulty: easy – moderate

Length: approximately 6.6 miles

Max elevation: 1,179 ft.– total elevation gain 706 ft.

Route type: circuit

Map: Harriman-Bear Mountain Trails Map #119

Trailhead parking: Lake Skanatati Parking – Southfields, NY 10975

The previous week we hiked in the same area (Pine Swamp Loop), but missed a scenic view due to the Arden-Surebridge Trail and the Red Cross Trail being rerouted. I decided to come back and explore some of the lesser traveled trails in the park and then bushwack at the end of the hike and find that elusive view. We hiked this loop counterclockwise from the Lake Skanatati Parking area, beginning on the Long Path and ending with the Arden-Surebridge Trail.

Lake Askoti and Pine Swamp Mountain Loop

Lake Askoti and Pine Swamp Mountain Loop

Below is a Google Earth image of the trails and points of interests on this hike.

Lake Askoti and Pine Swamp Mountain Loop

Lake Askoti and Pine Swamp Mountain Loop

We arrived at the parking area at about 9:45 am on a beautiful Saturday in June. The lot was beginning to fill up as it always does on the weekends. We gathered up our gear and headed out. We walked to the southern end of the parking area and picked up the Long Path.

Long Path trailhead

Long Path trailhead

We would be following the aqua blazes of the Long Path for approximately the first 1.3 miles of the hike. The trail ducks into the woods briefly then curves to the left and crosses Seven Lakes Drive. The Long Path continues just to the right of the crossing, on a gravel road.

the Long Path

the Long Path

A few feet in, the Long Path turns right, leaves the gravel road and continues on a footpath.

the Long Path

the Long Path

The trail then crosses a powerline cut and reenters the woods.

the Long Path

the Long Path

In a brief distance, the Long Path crosses County Road 106.

the Long Path

the Long Path

After crossing the road, we turned right and walked along the side of CR 106 for a short distance then turned left into the the woods.

the Long Path

the Long Path

The Long Path now becomes a narrow footpath. Having walked this section before, I knew to wear long pants because we were constantly brushing up against the foliage as we walked the trail.

the Long Path

the Long Path

After crossing a small stream and a short climb, We arrived at a junction with the blue-blazed Beech Trail. This turn can be easily missed if not for a cairn sitting in the middle of the trail.

cairn at the Long Path/Beech Trail junction

cairn at the Long Path/Beech Trail junction

Making a left on the Beech Trail, we were now heading northeast as we followed the blue blazes.

Beech Trail

Beech Trail

The Beech Trail starts out narrow and at times widens to a woods road then narrows again. The blazes also vary in shades of blue. Sometimes dark blue, light blue or just faded blue. Nevertheless, they are blue and it wasn’t confusing. This is one of the newer trails, blazed in 1972. It was during the construction of this trail that the method of using offset double blazes to show the direction in which the trail turns was invented.

Beech Trail

Beech Trail

There are some interesting rock formations along the way and except for the birds, it was quiet.

Beech Trail

Beech Trail

We then crossed CR 106 again, entered the woods and then in a short distance, the Beech Trail turns right onto a grassy woods road and runs along the shoulder of Rockhouse Mountain.

Beech Trail

Beech Trail

The mainly level woods road was a pleasure to walk. Being able to look around without the fear of tripping over a rock was a big plus. The trail once again narrows to a footpath as we pass a series of stone walls, the site of an old farm.

Beech Trail

Beech Trail

Not too long after passing the stone walls, we came to an old cemetery. The first grave is that of Timothy Youmans, who died on April 7, 1865 while serving in Company K of the 56th New York regiment. The Civil War ended two days later.

Timothy Youmans grave

Timothy Youmans grave

This cemetery was restored by the Eagle Scouts as indicated by the plaque below and the graves in this cemetery date back to the mid-1800’s.

cemetery plaque

cemetery plaque

We spent a few moments here to pay our respects.

cemetery along the Beech Trail

cemetery along the Beech Trail

We continued along on the Beech Trail until we came to a woods road. Here the Beech Trail turns right, but we turned left onto Hasenclever Road.

Beech Trail/Hasenclever Road junction

Beech Trail/Hasenclever Road junction

Hasenclever Road was also a pleasure to walk on. The grassy surface was a nice change from the normally rocky trails of Harriman and the road had several long straightaways. Hasenclever Road, built in 1760 from Stony Point to Central Valley, is one of the oldest roads in the Park. Its significance is apparent from the many woods roads (most of which are overgrown) that branch off of it. Hasenclever Road was mapped by General Robert Erskine in 1778 for General Washington.

Myles, William J.. Harriman Trails: A Guide and History (Kindle Locations 3730-3731). New York – New Jersey Trail Conference. Kindle Edition.

This was once the main road to an old settlement.

Hasenclever Road

Hasenclever Road

Sandyfield was settled in 1760 on Hasenclever Road. Originally a settlement of about 30 houses, in the early 1940’s Sandyfield was intentionally flooded to create Lake Welch in Harriman State Park, despite protests from the residents, who were ultimately forced to leave in 1939. The road crosses a little concrete bridge, a reminder that until 1910 this was a county road.

concrete bridge on Hasenclever Road

concrete bridge on Hasenclever Road

Walking along the trail something caught my eye. About 15 feet from the road, on the right, is a Rockland County highway monument mounted on a rock.

Rockland County highway monument

Rockland County highway monument

A short distance beyond the highway monument marker, we arrived at a junction with the red-cross-on-white blazed Red Cross Trail. On the right side of the junction is the Hasenclever Mine. The mine, which is said to be 100 feet deep, is now filled with water.

Hasenclever Mine

Hasenclever Mine

The Hasenclever iron ore deposit was discovered and initially developed in 1765 by Peter Hasenclever, who purchased 1,000 acres of land, including the site, for the purpose of establishing an ironworks on the nearby Cedar Ponds (now Tiorati) Brook. Peter Hasenclever was an iron entrepreneur who headed a group of British investors known as the London Company.

Lenik, Edward J.. Iron Mine Trails (Kindle Locations 1704-1706). New York – New Jersey Trail Conference. Kindle Edition.

Hasenclever Mine

Hasenclever Mine

Once we were done checking out the mine, we proceeded west on the Red Cross Trail. We had now hiked about 3.75 miles. The Red Cross Trail was first blazed in April 1944, but it has been relocated several times since then.

Red Cross Trail

Red Cross Trail

The trail passes through thick mountain laurel, a powerline cut and past some rock formations before it descends a little to a northwest facing viewpoint. Fingerboard Mountain can be seen from the trail from a rock outcrop.

northwest facing viewpoint from the Red Cross Trail

northwest facing viewpoint from the Red Cross Trail

The Red Cross Trail now begins a steady descent and Lake Askoti can be seen through the trees. At the base of the descent, the Red Cross Trail passes by a rock outcrop along the shore of Lake Askoti, a man-made lake, approximately 41-acres in size. Askoti which means “this side,” was filled with water in 1937. A short spur trail leads to the edge of the lake.

Lake Askoti

Lake Askoti

Up to this point we hadn’t seen a single person on our hike. We had this view to ourselves for a short while, then a couple of ladies and their two children came to relax here. After taking in the view, we continued on our way. I lost sight of the trail, but Seven Lakes Drive was just feet away, so we bushwacked up towards the road where the markers became visible again.

Red Cross Trail as it crosses Seven Lakes Drive

Red Cross Trail as it crosses Seven Lakes Drive

The Red Cross Trail crosses Seven Lakes Drive and begins a steady climb up Pine Swamp Mountain.

Red Cross Trail

Red Cross Trail

After a short but steep climb, we arrived at the terminus of the Red Cross Trail. The inverted-red-triangle-on-white blazes that mark the Arden-Surebridge (A-SB) Trail forms a T-intersection. I sat on a rock as I waited for my hiking partners to catch up.

terminus of the Red Cross Trail

terminus of the Red Cross Trail

The Arden-Surebridge Trail was first blazed during the summer of 1921 by J. Ashton Allis. In December of 2014 the trail was relocated to alleviate erosion and ongoing impacts to sensitive habitats. That explains why on two previous hikes I did not see a fantastic view that the old trail provides. I had viewed images of the scenic view online and was determined to find it. I bushwacked up to the summit and hit a few deadends, but found a well beaten path and knew I was on the right track. I headed south and then came to the rock outcrop that I was looking for. Lake Skanatati and Lake Kanawauke from the summit of Pine Swamp Mountain.

Lake Skanatati and Lake Kanawauke as viewed from Pine Swamp Mountain

Lake Skanatati and Lake Kanawauke as viewed from Pine Swamp Mountain

I would have liked to have spent more time here, but since I did this part on my own, I didn’t want to keep my hiking partners waiting too long. I followed the route of the old Arden-Surebridge Trail south until it connected with the new re-route and descended towards the parking lot.

Arden-Surebridge Trail

Arden-Surebridge Trail

We made it to the parking area, which was pretty full at this point and after a short rest, got in the vehicle to find a spot to grill some food. Another great hike in the books that had a little bit of everything. I hope that you enjoyed reading and please don’t forget to follow my blog. Now get out there and take a hike!

Pros: Secluded trails, historic mining operation, scenic woods roads, rock formations, scenic views, lake views.

Cons: Narrow footpaths at times that make it hard to avoid brushing up against the foliage (Ticks).

 

Take a hike!

Take a hike!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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