This route combines numerous trails in the west-central area of Harriman State Park. The Appalachian Trail section near Island Pond is particularly beautiful, but Bowling Rocks and the Valley of Boulders are also must-dos within the park boundaries. The route also passes close to several abandoned iron ore mines that are worth exploring. Most of all, the terrain changes quite often keeping hikers constantly engaged and thinking of a return trip.
This featured hike starts on the Appalachian Trail at the Elk Pen parking lot. Weekends are incredibly busy here, but parking is also allowed along Arden Valley Road.
Off the lot and immediately to the east is an access trail that runs through a field, connecting to the Appalachian Trail. Follow the AT northbound for approximately 2.75 miles. This section starts with the most difficult, though still moderate, climb of the hike, a 600 ft. ascent in just under a mile. After a small descent towards Island Pond, it levels off for a particularly enjoyable stretch of trail. This entire section of the AT is impressive for it's simple beauty; perhaps it is because the forest is relatively sparse giving you better viewpoints than normal. At the 2.05 mile mark is the Lemon Squeeze, a moderately challenging quick rock scramble. It definitely requires some upper body strength to complete, but it is worth a try. If you have reservations, there is a blue lettered sign that points to a quick detour.
Leave the AT at the 2.75 mile mark, bearing right (south) onto the light blue blazed Long Path: Section 6
. Here, the trail narrows somewhat as it passes through a more dense section of forest and runs alongside a swampy area as well. The Long Path soon intersects with White Bar
and at overall mile 3.45 look for Lichen Trail
, marked by a blue L on white background.
The 0.4 mile stretch of Lichen Trail
is wonderful, with vast views along exposed rock formations, and this terrain continues as you head left onto Ramapo Dunderberg (R-D) Trail
at overall mile 3.85. Continue on Ramapo Dunderberg (R-D) Trail
until it intersects back with the Long Path: Section 6
. This section is called "times square" because of it's many intersections trails. Here, bear right and continue on for 0.75 miles.
Soon Long Path intersections with the yellow-blazed Dunning Trail
, bear right and continue to follow it for 2.6 miles until reaching the white-blazed Nurian Trail
. Note that Dunning Trail
first joins the white-blazed White Bar
at mile 6.75. They continue together for a quarter of a mile before Dunning heads west towards Nurian. If you are not paying attention, it is quite easy to accidentally stay on White Bar
This section of Dunning Trail
starts relatively mundane as a doubletrack trail without much scenery. Don't be fooled—it quickly finds it's beauty, first on an an elevated area above Lake Kanawauke and then through a vast exposed bedrock section peppered with glacial erratics called Bowling Rocks. This makes a perfect lunch spot and photo opportunity. About 0.1 miles before switching trails, you can spot the entrance to Boston Mine. It is worth the very slight detour to head up the left side of the hill to view the mine entrance from above.
At mile 7.8, bear right onto the white-blazed Nurian Trail
. This is a confusing section as both Nurian Trail
and Dunning Trail
run parallel to each other and intersect a twice. There is also and oddly placed trail termination mark for Dunning that seems out of place. Regardless, follow Nurian Trail
for 0.85 miles for a mostly downhill and very rugged section of the park. The highlight in this area is the aptly named "Valley of Boulders" which is extremely rocky and includes a small cascade as well.
Finally, head north and back towards the Elk Pen parking lot by taking the red on white blazed Stahahe Brook Trail
at mile 8.8. Most of this trail follows the Stahahe Brook itself and is slightly downhill. This is a fitting, serene penultimate trail on this 10 mile outing.
The last portion is 0.5 miles on Arden-Surebridge (AS) Trail
which runs alongside an open grassy field with the parking lot in view most of the time. Where Arden-Surebridge (AS) Trail
intersects with the Appalachian Trail, bear left onto the access trail you started on.
Many oak trees and a fair share of Virginia Pine, plus some low lying freshwater wetland areas.
Common to spot deer and hawks, plus an occasional snake and black bear.
The park land was originally donated by Edward and Mary Ellen Harriman, as part of an effort to prevent NY State from building a prison near Bear Mountain.
There are also over a dozen abandoned mines throughout the park. Use caution when exploring near them.