June 16, 2024
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June 16, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Hike to Old Iron Mines in Harriman State Park

This easy-to-moderate loop hike in Harriman State Park goes by a number of fascinating rock formations, as well as the interesting remnants of several iron mines that were worked during the 19th century. The hike is 3.7 miles long, and it should take about two-and-a-half hours. Dogs are permitted on leash.

To get to the trailhead, take N.J. Route 17 north to the New York State Thruway. Bear left at the fork (following I-87 towards “Albany”) and take the first exit, Exit 15A (Sloatsburg). Turn left at the bottom of the ramp onto N.Y. Route 17 north, and continue for 2.5 miles through the Village of Sloatsburg. Just past the village, turn right at the traffic light, following the sign for Seven Lakes Drive/Harriman State Park. Continue on the Seven Lakes Drive for about 8 miles to the parking area for Lake Skannatati, on the left side of the road. The very sharp turnoff to the parking area is 0.8 mile beyond the Kanawauke Circle. This parking area will sometimes fill up on weekends, so try to get an early start (or do the hike on a weekday).

Begin the hike at the kiosk at the northwest corner of the parking area. Bear left at the kiosk and follow the aqua blazes of the Long Path along the north shore of the lake on a rocky footpath through a mountain laurel thicket. In about 0.4 mile, the trail bends away from the lake and crosses Pine Swamp Brook on large rocks. After passing by a dramatic rock ledge on the right, the trail proceeds through dense thickets of mountain laurel and blueberry. It then climbs to a junction with the yellow-blazed Dunning Trail.

Bear left and follow the joint Long Path-Dunning Trail for about 100 feet, then bear right where the trails diverge, continuing on the aqua-blazed Long Path. Just before reaching a massive boulder (known as Cape Horn), you’ll see remnants of 19th century mining activity below on the left. Directly below the trail is a shaft of the Hogencamp Mine, which was active from 1870 to 1885. Use caution if you wish to explore this interesting area.

The Long Path now begins to climb, passing a split boulder on a hill to the left. After a level section through a valley, the trail climbs slightly and passes stone foundations. A tramway from the Hogencamp Mine, used to transport the iron ore to a mine road, passed through this valley, and the stone foundations are probably remnants of structures built for the tramway.

After descending through an area with many young hemlocks and an understory of ferns, you’ll reach a junction with the Arden-Surebridge (A-SB) Trail, marked with inverted-red-triangle-on-white blazes. Turn sharply right and follow the A-SB Trail, which begins a steady descent through a valley on an old mine road. (NOTE: If you pass a large rock on the right with the inscription “Times Square,” or if you find yourself following a route blazed with both the aqua blazes of the Long Path and the inverted-red-triangle-on-white blazes of the A-SB Trail, you have gone too far. Turn around and follow the inverted-red-triangle-on-white blazes in the opposite direction.)

In half a mile (2.5 miles from start of the hike), you’ll reach the northern end of the yellow-blazed Dunning Trail. Continue ahead on the A-SB Trail, which crosses a stream below an attractive cascade. Just beyond the stream crossing, you’ll notice a large rectangular cut in the hillside to the left of the trail. This excavation is part of the Pine Swamp Mine, another mining venture in the area, which was opened about 1830 and was worked intermittently until 1880. As you continue along the trail, several other excavations and open pits (now filled with water) may also be seen.

Just beyond these mine openings, the trail bears right and descends into the woods. Soon, you’ll pass a stone wall and several stone foundations to the left of the trail. These are remnants of the village that once housed the workers at the nearby mine.

After passing the northern end of the Pine Swamp, the A-SB Trail climbs gradually and levels off along a shoulder of Pine Swamp Mountain. It soon reaches a junction with the Red Cross Trail, which begins on the left. Continue along the A-SB Trail, which now descends gradually, with views to the left of Lake Askoti when the leaves are down. At the base of the descent, you’ll reach the parking area at Lake Skannatati, where the hike began.

By Daniel Chazin

 

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