Updated: Feb 28, 2022
By Ian & Morgan
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.
Are you looking for a perfect location that's a short drive from NYC or North Jersey on a beautiful weekend whether there be snow or not?
Well, look no further north than Harriman State Park in Rockland/Orange County, NY. This beautiful 47,527 acres of parkland is the picture-perfect landscape all adventurous city dwellers are looking for on a weekend. With over 200 miles of hiking trails, 31 lakes, multiple streams, and public camping areas for weekends loaded with fun.
One of the park's biggest and most known hikes in the southern portion is called the Reeves Brook Loop Trail in Sloatsburg, NY on Seven Lakes Drive. This hike is labeled moderate and one of the first parking locations when entering from the southern portion outside of Sloatsburg or Tuxedo. This area has two small parking lots and loads of road parking, plus a building at the trailhead with an Appalachian Mountain Club Center with a gift shop and bathrooms.
The Reeves Brook Trail is a 3.8 mile heavily trafficked loop trail that features waterfalls, rock scrambles, beautiful scenic views, and beautiful stream/river views. With its easy approach, one of the best times to take this trail is during the Winter season when there aren't as many visitors. For the majority of the hike, you are either along a stream/river or walking along a ridgeline with spectacular views. The hike begins with a slight uphill just 50 feet after walking past the trailhead building. The first 1.5 miles of this hike is a series of gradual uphills within the vast forest of Harriman State Park. Along this uphill journey, you will cross over and walk along a bustling brook that will create a picturesque scene that you see in movies or read about in books. After some time walking uphill over a few logs you will reach the best part of the hike in our opinion, and during the winter this trail does not disappoint.
This hike does have one moderate to highly difficult rock scramble that should be taken slowly and carefully, but with a great reward at the top. From this view, you can see west into Northern Jersey towards the high point region and upstate New York towards Warwick. This is a great spot for a snack and drink, especially after all that work it took to get up there. Once you have taken all your pictures for Instagram or videos for TikTok and you're ready to leave this beautiful view, you spend some time walking along the ridge top before returning into the woods crossing over a pipeline heading towards the next viewpoint. Remember to #exploreharriman if you’d like your photos considered for the gallery on their socials.
The Next viewpoint is at the top of a small uphill section that opens up to an exposed rock face which has views of west upstate New York. This exposed rock face is big enough for the whole family to lay out for a mid-hike rest. After resting up and taking in the view, you can begin to head down the mountain through the woods towards the Stonybrook stream, which is one of the multiple streams within the park. This stream is fed from two lakes which are Lake Sebago and Pine Meadow Lake. On your way downhill from the rockface walking through the woods, you will begin to pick up faint sounds of this roaring streaming. As you get closer, the sound only grows louder, and this is a dignified way of telling you that you are moving in the correct direction heading back to the car. At around mile 2.6 will be your first sight of the stream and a small cut-off towards a bridge leading towards the Kakiat Trail. This Bridge is a great spot to grab a pic of the stream and listen to the running water as it passes under your feet.
After taking this small detour you head back to the trail and head towards the trailhead building walking along the stream. Depending on the time of year, the stream is either very high or low and the water may cover parts of the trail. Nonetheless, it is still amazing to finish your hike walking along this beautiful stream, taking small breaks watching the water rush by, before returning to the bustling city life. Now, Before heading back to the building we highly recommend taking a seat on one of the river rocks and just taking in your surroundings. This time should be used to help reconnect with nature and cleanse your mind and soul of all negative thoughts.
So you just finished a moderate 3.8-mile hike through the woods, over some streams, up a mountain or two and you're thinking well what now? Well, I know the first thing on our minds every time we finish a hike is where is the food, water, and beer!
Luckily this southern point of the park is surrounded by various restaurants, bars, delis, coffee shops, a bakery, and much more! One of our favorite places to hit up after a hike in Harriman is Fink's BBQ & Cheesesteak Roadhouse in Suffern, NY just a short 10-minute ride from the trailhead, and right next to I-87 on your way back to NYC or NJ. When driving down Orange Ave over the steel bridge past the train tracks you will know exactly where Fink's BBQ & Cheesesteak Roadhouse is located when you come across a building with a big red fire truck parked out front with the words Fink's painted on the side. The parking lot has plenty of space with its two levels, with also some tables outside for nice warmer days! The entrance is located just off the parking lot on the side of the building with a fun face cut-out scene for picture taking with the family or adventure kitty. Once you walk in the door you're greeted by friendly staff and a fun-designed special of the day board. When standing in the restaurant lobby the bar is off to the left down a small set of stairs, and the restaurant area is to the right with plenty of TVs, seats, and some flags of NY, NJ, and the USA hanging from the ceiling. This is a great place to eat after a hike especially on a Sunday during football season because while eating your post-hike meal you can catch up on the first half of all the 1 o'clock games before heading home at halftime.
Needless to say, this BBQ joint is absolutely amazing! They have spectacular Ribs, Brisket, and Pulled Pork at his location. During our last visit, for appetizers, we got smoked wings with spicy buffalo and sweet & smoky BBQ sauce on the side. Ian and I also got one cider each from a New York Cidery called "Awestruck". Ian got the Hibiscus Ginger cider and I got the Hometown Homicider which is a pumpkin cider. These Ciders were amazing and we highly recommend grabbing one when you visit Fink's BBQ & Cheesesteak Roadhouse yourself. When it was time for entrees, Ian got the Pork Spareribs with mac and cheese and mashed potatoes. While I got Pulled Pork with sweet corn souffle and Texas potato salad. As you can tell we were carb-loading after our hike and Ian said, "We worked hard on our hike and were going to treat ourselves!"
All of our food and drinks were absolutely incredible and highly recommended. The ribs were very tender and fell right off the bone and the mac was perfectly cheesy, and you can't go wrong with mashed potatoes. The pulled pork was amazing, juicy, and perfectly seasoned and I wanted more! Plus the sweet corn souffle was incredible and I really wanted the recipe on how to make some at home! We both loved this place, and will definitely be returning once again for some spectacular food after a morning hike in Harriman State Park.
Please remember to carry out what you carry in - leave no trace.
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.