By Glenn Donovan
Explore Harriman: Before setting out on any trail, always be sure to have not only the Avenza App on your smart phone but a waterproof trail map by the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference as well. We also strongly suggest you heed these important winter do's & don'ts by our friends at Urban and Outdoor Survival.
Hello! Here we are in the thick of winter’s clutches - freezing temps, snow and ice fill the terrain. What do we do? LET'S HIKE THE BEECH TRAIL!
I love hiking in the winter and Harriman has so much to offer this time of year. Even if I go out for an hour it makes a huge difference in the way I feel for days. As I review my map for winter -friendly hikes, I look for specific things when selecting a trail. First, is minimal inclines. Personally, I try to stay away from steeper, more mountainous areas, especially if I don’t plan on using spikes. These last few weeks have been extremely treacherous due to ice and many of the trails were uncrossable if one did not have the proper foot gear. Today the ground was beginning to soften up a bit but I still decided to wear my spikes - they really work amazingly well! Second, I look for narrow, manageable water crossings. I try to find ones that do not require negotiating a lot of rocky terrain. The last thing I want to do is slide off an icy rock into an icy stream. Today’s trail displays these two characteristics.
It’s been over a year since I hiked the Beech Trail but the quiet whisper of this unfrequented path called me back, and I'm glad it did. Begin by parking at the St.John’s Rd hiker lot. There is a short connector trail from the road which will lead into the aqua blazed Long Path. Make a right which brings you northbound. One reason I enjoy the Long Path is because it is heavily blazed which makes it easy to navigate. After about 0.5 miles, the Beech Trail which is blazed in dark blue, will begin to your right, leaving the Long Path to the left.
As I began the trail, I was surprised to find that no one has been on it for some time. This is definitely a rarity! My excitement flourished at the fact that I would be the one to break in new snow. Well, technically there were a few various animal tracks here and there but no humans! The remote path was all mine. Winter hiking, in my opinion, isn’t a lot of fun when they are difficult trails and I have to say, the Beech Trail is great for beginners. It might not have the grand mountain-top views, but it delivers a silent serenity.
As you walk alongside Rockhouse Mountain to your left, you will be treated to some beautiful rock formations. My destination was a small, very old, lonely graveyard. It had about 10 headstones. Sounds kinda sad but it was anything but - I am happy to be topside and out in nature! At this point I did an about face and headed back from the direction I came. This hike was about 4 miles total.
The sun was setting as I returned to my car and I was hungry - hiking burns off lots of calories, another perk! I decided to make my way over to Agave Restaurant & Lounge in Suffern for lunch. When I arrived I was greeted by Joel who was really friendly. We chatted a bit about some of the different items on the menu being offered. I was unfamiliar with a few of the dishes and Joel explained that a large portion of the menu was authentic Mexican that may be uncommon in other restaurants. I never heard of a Quesabirria meal which is a tortilla stuffed with different cheeses, onions, cilantro and seasoned brisket. The other tempting dish that caught my attention was a steak dish called Tampiquena. My venturesome day extended into lunch as I chose the Quesabirria. My fellow hiker, Trailblazen Tez devoured his Tacos De Camaron. He thoroughly enjoyed his shrimp tacos to the point that I thought he was going to start licking the plate. Ha! Everything was delicious and to top things off, I had to try a margarita and it was perfect! Not too sweet, not too tart, just right.
Another wonderful day in and around Harriman! Include #exploreharriman in your Instagram posts, stories or TikTok vids and perhaps you’ll be selected to appear in their gallery. Please remember to carry out what you carry in - leave no trace.
Disconnect To Reconnect with me, Glenn Donovan @a.serene.path
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This story blog is in partnership with ExploreHarriman.org and Rockland County Tourism though it is exclusively the experience of the blog author. Authenticity and transparency is paramount to all parties.
Explore Harriman is not affiliated with or a subsidiary of guided hikes organized by those who share their blogs.