Tag Archives: views

HIKE & EAT: Camp Smith Trail & Grown-Up Grilled Cheese

25 Jan

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A challenging day hike a mere 45 minutes from New York City is the Camp Smith Trail from the Bear Mountain Bridge Toll House to Anthony’s Nose and back.  We recently completed this hike on Martin Luther King Day.   According to our mapmyhike reading, it is a 7.77 mile hike back and forth.   I have found mapmyhike to be relatively accurate in determining distances.  The Town of Cortlandt lists the hike as only being 2.5 miles each way—this is absolutely wrong as the road distance between the two trails is 2.5 miles and the trail is anything but straight.  In fact, part of what makes it a challenging day hike is the constant change in direction and elevation changes. 

Given our struggles at Storm King as detailed in my last post, we came prepared with Yaktrax.  Bear Mountain to the West appeared covered in snow.  Fortunately, the trail was in great shape and except for a few icy areas we could hike at a quick pace.  As with most of our hikes, the Red Headed Stranger led the way.  We can always tell if there are hikers ahead as she pushes the pace to absurd levels in their pursuit. 

There were a few stretches where we might as well have been running. 

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HIKE: Storm King (The Howell Trail)

11 Jan

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On Saturday we made our way to Storm King State Park for a challenging winter hike.   I’ve done this 9.6 mile loop many times and I consider it one of the toughest day hikes in the Hudson Highlands.   Storm King Mountain lies on the west side of the Hudson River, just across the river from the far more famous and busier Breakneck Ridge hike.   Storm King is blessed in that unlike Breakneck Ridge, it doesn’t have a convenient train stop from NYC near the trailhead, and therefore, far less traffic.     For whatever reason, trail guide books never include the Howell Trail in their suggested hikes for Storm King.  I don’t know why.  The trail starts about 5.5 miles into the hike at a mere 200 feet above sea level and quickly ascends to 1200 feet.  Along the way, the views of the Hudson River are spectacular.  It eventually drops back down to 520 feet before rising back to 1100, all of this in just a couple of miles.  If you think the elevation gains are paltry, you are wrong.  This stretch is tough and the terrain can be unforgiving.  I’m not going to compare it to difficult stretches of Devil’s Path in the Catskills, but it isn’t Bear Mountain either.  I’ve never encountered another hiker on the Howell Trail. It is the road less travelled.

We set off around 11:30am.  It was crisp, cold day, but perfect for a hike.  We expected snow on the ground, but not as nearly as much as we encountered.   For most of the first 5.5 miles the snow had been packed down by previous hikers.  I always find hiking in New York to be deceptively hard as most trails have a myriad of rocks, roots, fallen trees, and rarely if ever, a switchback.  You tend to go straight up and straight down.   This day we were making great time as the packed snow created a sometimes slick, but mostly an easy path to travel on.  The Red Headed Stranger, a veteran of this hike, led the way and pushed the pace.  Blue Bin had no idea what was ahead. Continue reading

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