Saturday, May 28, 2016.
2 birds in 1 stone, my Saturday plan. Or should I say, 2 bears in 1 day – Bear Mountain that is.
Since the first BM Trails exploration, I’ve been craving for another trail experience. But at the same time, I needed to spend some time on the saddle for a triathlon training. So, I decided to do both – bike up Bear Mountain to Perkins Tower, and then switch gears and hike the trails afterwards.
Saturday morning. I parked at the RD/TT trail head on 9W, and started the ride before 8AM. This part of the road offers no flat section up to Perkins, only ups and downs. 1+ mile up, 1+ mile down, and then 5 miles up to Perkins, for a distance of ~7.5 miles. Total of ~15 miles, ~1800 ft elevation, out-and-back to start. Close to 4 hours and 3 laps after, I’m done with the bike ride. My Garmin recorded 44.36 miles, with 5456 ft elevation gain. A good hill repeat, I must say.
Stored the bike inside the car, and switched gears for the hiking exploration. The hike would start at the RD/TT (Red/Blue – Ramapo-Dunderberg/Timp Torne) trail. This was my first time on this trail section. At the intersection of the Red/Blue trail blazes, I decided to do the RD (Red) trail out, and later on the TT (Blue) trail on the way back. It was a continuous climb from the start until the first vantage point on the RD trail, with a view of the Hudson River (1). More climbing until the next vantage point, this time with a view of the Bear Mountain, with Perkins Tower visible from this point (2). Continued on until the summit at Bald Mountain, with another clear view of the Perkins Tower (3). Rested a bit at the summit, pondering where to go from here. I decided to continue on the RD trail, then right to TT until the summit vantage point. This was the same windy summit I didn’t know on the first exploration (4). **** After this hike, and upon checking the complete Harriman State Park Trail Map, this is The Timp vantage point. The ‘binocular’ marker on the Bear Mountain Trail Map has it on the wrong spot. ***** From this summit, the West Mountain Shelter was clearly visible. Just across another mountain, so I decided to continue and marked that as my next target. The TT trail was rocky and technical going up, coming down, and again, going up (but then, that’s what makes it more fun). Reached the shelter, and saw some overnight? campers – one tent pitched nearby. Took some pictures of the summit where I just came from (5), and again pondered where to go next.
It was about 3PM at this point. I decided to go back because of the unfamiliarity with some sections of the trail on the way back. Followed the TT trail back until I hit the intersection of the RD trail and the ‘unmarked’ Red Cross trail – meaning, I missed the turn on the TT trail. It’s really easy to miss the Blue trail because it’s a sharp turn, whereas the unmarked trail was straight and looked like a continuation of the TT trail. Looking at the map, I decided to follow the RD trail from here because it would eventually intersect with the TT trail at some point. This part of the RD trail was really rugged, with trail blazes that were easy to miss. Looked like very few hikers take this route. Turned right at the RD/TT intersection to get back to the TT trail. **** This is where the Bear Mountain Trail Map has the ‘binocular’ marker on the wrong spot, as there was no clear vantage points in this section. ***** Continued on the TT trail until the last last vantage point, with a view of the Hudson River once again (6). From this point on, the trail would be a descent back to the starting point, passing (not through) 2 tunnels (7), and finally the end/start of the trail head (8). The official trail head is a short walk along 9W from the parking.
It was about 5PM when I finished the hike. My Garmin recorded 10.43 miles, with 3169 ft elevation gain. Bear Mountain trails explored once again.
It was hot and humid. Took a gallon of water from the car, and poured it on me. A refreshing way to end the day.