Parker Cabin & Tom Jones Loop: Dry, Dusty, Crumbly

Pics by Explore Harriman, Annette & Ozzie of Urban & Outdoor Survival

This past weekend, EH joined Marlon Smith and his Urban & Outdoor Survival (UOS) team on the Parker Cabin and Tom Jones Mountain Loop (5.0 miles) - #8 of 9 shelters UOS organized this year. This trail is considered a moderate challenge but whew … it was pretty humid and proved to be tougher for even the well-experienced hikers in our group.

Access is at County Road 106 and Marlon chose a counter-clockwise approach with the Tom Jones Shelter at the latter half. Lots of healthy climbs, steep descents, great views, and a few rock scrambles on this trail. The trek was rewarding but very dry, very dusty, and crumbly. Good foot traction was tricky in spots.

The loop is about 90% in the shade this time of year. Yet, we were still plenty thankful it was cloudy. We barely had any sunshine and still we chugged down our water and celebrated a merciful breeze here and there. I've been trying out Re-Lyte Electrolytes by Redmond Real Salt at the tail end of my workouts and so far I find it gets me through.

Tom Jones Shelter

The Parker Cabin / Tom Jones is a popular loop. We came across a couple of other groups and soloists - one or two that needed direction which Marlon and his team obliges because it’s just what UOS is about. We stopped for a bite on the ledge overlooking Tom Jones shelter where three other hikers made camp. We made our way along the trail and unfortunately, came across and packed out some trash. We ask everyone to please educate yourselves with the 7 principles of leaving no trace and carry extra trash bags. Please carry out what you carry in.

One thing occurring in Harriman that struck us is the array of color - not between the trees but down low among the shrubs. There were striking displays of burnt orange against patches of summer green - no doubt the dry, hot weather wreaking havoc on the more delicate foliage compared to heartier plants. It’s quite a sight but not one we hope returns after this year. As we’re sure many of you have noticed when looking out on the horizon, there are streaks of charred tree tops throughout the park.

Careful out there. Goes without saying but we’re saying it anyway - be mindful when hiking on super dry days especially when the sun is shining. Brush fires occur. And be overly cautious with campfires - make sure there’s no question they are out. Marlon always reiterates Smokey's guideline "If it's too hot to touch then it too hot to leave".

Learn more about Urban and Outdoor Survival and upcoming hikes on the group's MeetUp page and visit

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