Last Minute Harriman State Park Beta

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DayTrip

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It looks like with my work schedule next week I will finally, after many aborted attempts, have an opportunity to go to Harriman State Park this weekend and I was hoping to get some quick info. I joined the Facebook group for Harriman but my membership is still pending. Not sure how responsive the admins are. I know it's last minute but I recall several people on here know the area based on previous questions I've asked so I figured I'd give it a shot:

1) I'm assuming snow and ice is gone in that area with the mildness of the past Winter. Couldn't find any trail reports for the area. Should I bring rock spikes to be safe? Is this area a bad choice in mud season?
2) Will the roads normally closed for Winter be open by now? Not sure if they are dirt or paved, was any damage from all the rain this Winter, etc. I'm planning on a trailhead on a road that stays open year round but would prefer to start in some other spots closer to my hopeful itinerary.
3) When I went on the website to see what they had posted for news and notes there wasn't much new but there were some pretty clear bear warnings and directions. Is the area known for bear problems? I'm hoping to do an overnight and will be bringing my bear vault. Normally I don't worry about bears but it is Spring and I don't know the area. Curious if it is comparable to the Whites of NH? Not as bad? Worse?

If anyone happens to come across this post this afternoon/evening and has any good info it would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.
 
From my friends' reports, very little if any ice. Mud not really a problem in Harriman, most of the trails are rock. Don't know about whether roads are open, we arrive by bus or train.

Bears are there, I've seen about a half-dozen over the years. Not really habituated to lean-tos in my experience, although there are plenty of vermin including snakes in every lean-to.

With a vault you should be fine. This weekend the park will be crowded.
 
Late reply, I know... I was hiking in Harriman yesterday. Snow long gone, not much mud. Yesterday was a stellar day, surprisingly not many people where I was (Kanawauke Road to R-D to Nurian to Valley of Boulders, bushwhack to A-SB, back Dunning -WB-Nurian-RD). Kanawauke Road is officially closed but they're not enforcing it this late in the season.

There are bears but they're not generally a problem. There was a problem bear at Bald Rocks shelter a couple of years ago and they had to close it for a year, now there are cables to hang your food there.
 
Thanks for the replies. My plans fell through - for the 3rd time. I'm convinced the universe doesn't want me to visit Harriman. Last minute issues have derailed every trip so far. Apparently the 3rd time is not the charm.....
 
Seasonal roads in Harriman open April 1st each year. Honestly, it's kind of nice when they are still closed as it cuts down on the number of other hikers you'll encounter in some sections of the park.

Bears are definitely out and about in Harriman but I'd personally generally be more concerned with mice. Some of the shelter sites can be pretty overrun with mice at times. Most (if not all) of the shelter sites have cable hang systems installed nearby. It's a pretty easy system to use- you clip your food bag into one carabiner, haul on the cable to raise it, and then clip a second carabiner into an eyebolt on the ground to keep the food in the air. But a bear canister isn't the worst idea ever- on a recent trip of mine into Harriman a friend hiking with me chose to carry a canister.

In case you're not aware- backcountry camping in Harriman is permitted only at the shelter sites. You can sleep inside the shelter or tent camp within 300 feet of the shelter. The shelter sites can be very popular and on nice weekends it's not uncommon to see 50+ people camped at some of them. Each shelter has a number of well-established campsites in the vicinity, with fire pits and decent tenting pads.

Because the shelter sites are so popular, be aware that firewood is scarce. To have a campfire will demand lots of extra effort on your part, scavenging for wood far and wide. It can't hurt to try to make friends with other campers to share a fire so as to minimize the necessary efforts (and your impacts).

Some of the shelter sites also aren't particularly close to reliable water sources- it can be a half mile or more to get to the nearest reliable stream from a few of them. It's not a bad idea to carry extra water containers to minimize the number of lengthy water runs from camp. (Apparently some of the dry shelters used to have hand-pump wells for water but the pumps kept getting vandalized so the park/NYNJTC gave up on trying to keep them maintained.)

None of the shelter sites have outhouses, and it's difficult to dig cat holes in Harriman because the soils tend to be pretty shallow. I'd plan on expending extra effort for the proper disposal of human waste.
 
None of the shelter sites have outhouses, and it's difficult to dig cat holes in Harriman because the soils tend to be pretty shallow. I'd plan on expending extra effort for the proper disposal of human waste.
Seems (sort of) odd that they haven't tried to create something for this - obviously, if it's hard to dig, it would be hard to do so for the outhouses as well, but at least they would (or could) have access to some type of better gear to do so (even if that meant flying it in as is done in other areas).
 
Seems (sort of) odd that they haven't tried to create something for this - obviously, if it's hard to dig, it would be hard to do so for the outhouses as well, but at least they would (or could) have access to some type of better gear to do so (even if that meant flying it in as is done in other areas).
Remember that this is New York. There are many common sense solutions for this issue. But here, you will wait 20 years to see anything implemented.
 
Remember that this is New York. There are many common sense solutions for this issue. But here, you will wait 20 years to see anything implemented.
That does happen many times :)
Even being in NY you can (try to) forget about it some of the time ;)
 
None of the shelter sites have outhouses, and it's difficult to dig cat holes in Harriman because the soils tend to be pretty shallow. I'd plan on expending extra effort for the proper disposal of human waste.
Installing outhouses (at least on the AT and possibly LP) has been requested and discussed. Since they are not there, one can assume the park does not want them as the TC would have installed them by now if the park agreed. I think one issue would be the tendency for them to be used as garbage pits regardless of signage...and no one wants to fish out trash from a privy.
 
There are toilets available on Bear Mountain summit, at Lake Tiorata, Lake Welch, Anthony Wayne parking lot, Bear Mountain Inn, and other places. Granted it's not convenient for lean-tos, but as Mr. Swanson notes the state is not interested in anything more.
 
I finally got out there last weekend, but only for the day. I did a figure eight-ish loop parking at Lake Skannati and heading up Pine Swamp Mtn > Hogencamp North > Fingerboard Shelter > Lemon Squuezer > White And Yellow Trails > Bald Rock Shelter > Long Trail. I enjoyed the ridge tops and general forest. The lack of "real" mountain views was a drawback to me. It felt like every view was the same exact view. Reminded me of some hikes I've done in Pennsylvania. It was supposed to be a very windy day so I dressed accordingly. Weather was full on New England stuff: started sunny calm and warm, then snow pellet squalls, then clouds, then more sun, wind, no wind, more snow, then sun. The truly sustained winds didn't kick in until fairly late in the afternoon. I'll likely make another trip there.

One odd observation I had was that I saw about 70-80 people during the day and at least 65 of them were Japanese people in various group sizes (4-10). Everyone I saw until about 2 o'clock in the afternoon was Japanese. I don't care obviously but I thought that was quite a statistical oddity. Is there a heavy Asian/Japanese population in that area and/or some other cultural reason for the popularity? Club or group? I don't really know anything about that part of NY.
 
One odd observation I had was that I saw about 70-80 people during the day and at least 65 of them were Japanese people in various group sizes (4-10). Everyone I saw until about 2 o'clock in the afternoon was Japanese. I don't care obviously but I thought that was quite a statistical oddity. Is there a heavy Asian/Japanese population in that area and/or some other cultural reason for the popularity? Club or group? I don't really know anything about that part of NY.

I observed the same thing at Blue Hills.
 
As you saw, it can get busy there, and the hike you did is a popular one. I hike a lot in that part of the park because I'm a member of a group camp near there, but I bushwhack a lot (technically not allowed) so that avoids the crowds.

There are a lot of Asian hiking groups there, I think they come up on buses and vans from NYC. Kinda funny, it's almost always the same, a bunch of people in nylon and spandex and brand new gear, usually overdressed for the conditions, with one bored looking older guy with well used gear, presumably their guide.
 
Kinda funny, it's almost always the same, a bunch of people in nylon and spandex and brand new gear, usually overdressed for the conditions,.
Yes! I passed a group of 10-12 older Asian women that had outfits that were a hybrid between 1980's downhill skier and affluent Rodeo Drive fashion. Pretty interesting gear.
 
I think they're Korean. Generally very friendly. We usually run into them near lean-tos. On Schunemunk one group had this little wood-fueled stove for cooking lunch and brewing tea.

There are several much less crowded trails. For instance, if we start at Kakiat County Park and loop around Pine Meadow Lake, we typically see fewer than a half-dozen hikers.
 
One spring I was doing a section hike through that area including the zoo and past the big pond and up the AT to the tower. The area was loaded with Hasidic Jewish folks in their normal dress. I think us grubby backpackers hiking through the area was a partial attraction.
 
I think they're Korean. Generally very friendly. We usually run into them near lean-tos. On Schunemunk one group had this little wood-fueled stove for cooking lunch and brewing tea.

There are several much less crowded trails. For instance, if we start at Kakiat County Park and loop around Pine Meadow Lake, we typically see fewer than a half-dozen hikers.
I'm glad you mentioned that. I was twisting my min into a pretzel trying to recall another hike where I saw a unusually large percentage of Japanese/Korean hikers and I think it was when I did Schennemunk last Fall. I guess they are the demographic in that area. Just about everyone I met at Harriman was very quiet and introverted. Got mostly head nods when I said hi. Only one or two enthusiastic greetings/conversations.
 
Just about everyone I met at Harriman was very quiet and introverted. Got mostly head nods when I said hi. Only one or two enthusiastic greetings/conversations.
Yeah, I think that's the NYC mindset to mind your own business and don't make eye contact.

I haven't seen many Hasidic hikers, but I generally avoid the Bear Mountain area as it's too crowded (though there are some great views). There's a huge Hasidic community just to the north in Monroe.

The R-D trail is very popular as it has a number of good views, including all the way down to Manhattan. Some of the trails through the lower valleys get less traffic and are very nice, like the Nurian and White Cross.

Another area I avoid is around the visitor's center on Seven Lakes Drive, on a nice day there can be hundreds of cars there.
 
One spring I was doing a section hike through that area including the zoo and past the big pond and up the AT to the tower. The area was loaded with Hasidic Jewish folks in their normal dress. I think us grubby backpackers hiking through the area was a partial attraction.
You're right, we encountered them one day too. They made nasty comments about my wife, who was in shorts and a T-shirt.

Our solution: hike on Saturday.
 
Just about everyone I met at Harriman was very quiet and introverted. Got mostly head nods when I said hi. Only one or two enthusiastic greetings/conversations.
Well in their defense I almost never do more than nod when I'm struggling uphill. Downhill is another matter.
 
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