As trails in popular Cold Spring and Beacon closed temporarily from Covid-19, we discovered a new local gem: Harriman State Park. Spread over Rockland and Orange counties, Harriman is vast, with sparkling lakes, more than 200 miles of rugged trails and even a few beaches. This is real hiking so watch out for bears, snakes and various other critters. Download hikes on the AllTrails app so you can track your path. There may be parking restrictions in place so get there early, and if you dare to park on the side of the street you might come back to a ticket. Three favorites:
Bald Rocks Shelter via Kanawauke Road: This is an out-and-back trail, about 2.7 miles round trip. Rather than a straight ascent, it’s up and down and rocky with lots of exposed rock that gives it a Mars-like appearance. You know you’re near the end when you see a shelter on the right (apparently closed now due to bear sightings!). Fewer crowds on this one.
Reeves Brook Trail: There is a long and short version of this, and we did the short version, a 2.7-mile out-and-back that follows a lovely stream and small waterfall into the forest and ends with a straight-up, vertical scramble for the rock climber in you. The reward is a sweet mountain-top view. This trail is very popular and the parking lot fills up early so try it on a weekday if you can.
Sterling Lake Loop: For a less intense hike try the 4-mile loop around lovely Sterling Lake. Go counterclockwise. About halfway around out you will hit the shoreline. Signs warn not to swim (ignored if it’s hot). A little beyond the shoreline you will see large rocks jutting out. Bushwhack to them and you have found yourself the perfect lunch or snack spot. This one is popular so arrive in the morning if you want to snag a parking spot.
Side trip: Head to Bellvale Farms Creamery in nearby Warwick for a post-hike treat.