Sunday, October 26, 2014

NY Appalachian Trail - Sections 9 and 10 - Camp Smith Trail to Bear Mountain Inn

October 26, 2014

Miles: 4.6 miles
Time:  2 hours 25 minutes 
Elevation gain: 1,419 feet
Year to date miles:  413.4

Parking: Roadside parking along Route 9D, near Bear Mountain Bridge.
Rest rooms: Maybe at Bear Mountain State Park

Hike directions:
Walk along Route 9D North until you reach Putnam/Westchester border.
Turn right onto AT Northbound.
Ascend steeply up to intersection with blue blazed Camp Smith trail
Turn around (or take side trip to Anthony's Nose).
Turn left onto 9D.
Turn right and cross Bear Mountain Bridge (right side).
After crossing bridge, turn left at crosswalk.
If you want to go through the zoo (the AT goes through it), turn left.
If you want to bypass the zoo or the zoo is closed, turn right and follow the blue blazes.
We took the blue blazed route, because you can't take dogs through the zoo.
Follow the blue blazed route until the end, then turn right and take a tunnel under the road.
At the end of the tunnel, follow AT blazes, turning left to go clockwise around Hessian Lake.
The AT leaves the area near a playground.
However, at this point, we continued circling around Hessian Lake.
We crossed the road at the traffic circle (careful!), heading towards the Bear Mountain Bridge again.
We crossed the Bear Mountain Bridge on the right side (not recommended, because it is much more difficult to cross the road again at the end of the bridge).
Walk North along Route 9D to the roadside parking.

Map: Appalachian Trail Conservancy New York / New Jersey Appalachian Trail Guide and Maps

Hike description:
We were originally planning on parking at Bear Mountain State Park (huge parking area), but we happened to hit it during an Octoberfest event at the park. After sitting in stopped traffic for 1/2 hour, we gave up on parking there, and drove to Route 9D. Parking was crazy on Route 9D as well. A lot of people heading up to Anthony's Nose, or walking to Bear Mountain State Park from 9D.

Walking along Route 9D was difficult - as there was no shoulder due to all of the parked cars. I liked the hike up to the Camp Smith Trail. It was steep, but there were stone steps which really, really helped with footing. I was able to keep the dogs on leash without feeling like I'd trip and fall. There were a ton of people going up and down the trail. It's a short route to Anthony's Nose. We skipped Anthony's Nose, and just turned around after we reached the intersection of the Camp Smith trail.

We walked across the Bear Mountain Bridge, first time we've done that. We've driven over the bridge hundreds of times. Lots of people walking across taking photos. Glen felt some vertigo going across, as must have Trek. Trek pressed his body as best he could against the concrete barrier (away from the edge of the bridge). When there were people against the barrier, he just pressed against them too. Moxie and I had no issues.

Upon finding the Trail Museum/Zoo closed to dogs, we took the blue blazed detour trail. It is an ugly trail, but just a short section.

Once in the park, it was crazy. There were crowds of people walking around with huge steins of beer. OMG. Trying to walk 2 dogs who are pulling and weaving around people with their beer was a challenge. I was afraid someone's beer would go flying. Plus there were many people commenting on their packs. Normally, I enjoy stopping and talking to people, but there were just way too many people today. Then there were some people with dogs, who we also work to avoid. I was very eager to get through the park quickly and without incident. We arrived at the playground, where the trail leaves the festivities. I was a bit frazzled by then. We decided to skip the hike up to Bear Mountain, and come back on a quieter day. We continued along Hessian Lake, the dogs still pulling like crazy, excited by the crowds, and the lake itself. We crossed the road as soon as we could - not a particularly safe place, but it got us away from the crowds.

We decided to walk on the right side of the bridge, as we thought it might be wider. I don't think it really is. It also was a bad idea, because the road crossing at the end was much more difficult. It was hard to see cars coming. We made it back to our car in one piece. Shorter hike than we planned, but relaxing now at home.

Crossing the Bear Mountain Bridge, heading towards Bear Mountain State Park

Trek avoiding the edge of the bridge

The cross walk here is a good place to park. At this point we were trying to find out where the AT was.
It's back by the toll area.

Entrance to the zoo, which we skipped.

Sign near the playground, where the AT starts the climb up Bear Mountain.

Stopping along Hessian Lake

Heading back to 9D (walking on this side of the bridge is not recommended - go back and cross at the crosswalk!)

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