Camping Trip 2019: Hudson Highlands

Camping Trip 2019: Hudson Highlands

Approximately 50 miles north of New York City, located along the Hudson River off of I-87 in New York, Bear Mountain State Park and Harriman State Park are popular recreational destinations for residence of New York City & New Jersey.

Hudson Highlands Camping Trip

My friend Ashley invited me on a camping trip to explore the Palisades Region of New York State. The idea was to meet up at Beaver Pond Campground and spend the weekend leisurely hiking, with a relaxing fire at the end of the day, during the weekend of the Flower Moon.

Ashley had reserved the campsite, so I did a little research about the area in order to plan some reasonable hikes near the campground. Nothing too strenuous.

  • There are over 200 miles of trails in Bear Mountain State Park and Harriman State Park.

Beaver Pond Campgrounds (Harriman State Park)

I was the first to arrive. I put on some bug spray and walked around a little, investigating the surrounding area to help ease some of my anxiety about being alone. Which is funny, since I’m always alone.

View from the campground towards Lake Welch.

Lake Welch

Lake Welch view from the beach.
A majestic Turkey Vulture!

I saw so many turkey vultures, soaring!
I got caught up in their flight and at one moment I was standing below one.
So close!
So close I flinched when its wings flapped above me.
Awkwardly, we made eye contact.
I am always fascinated by their grotesque beauty.

Looking towards Jackie Jones Fire Tower.

When I checked in at the campground the Park Ranger gave me a brochure suggesting a hike I had previously researched. It was from a parking area near the Beaver Pond Campgrounds to the Jackie Jones Fire Tower. I had read that on a clear day, from the top of the tower, you can see the Manhattan skyline! Unfortunately, the closest I got to the Jackie Jones Fire Tower was looking up at it from Lake Welch.

Adventures with Ashley never quite goes as planned.

To be honest, that’s part of the fun when I’m with her. Just being and doing whatever.

I laugh about it now. I laughed about it then. Ashley arrived at the campgrounds and called me. She basically told me that she couldn’t come to the campsite because the area didn’t allow dogs, and she had brought both of her dogs.

Of course she brought her dogs. She always brings her dogs. Not an uncommon occurrence…

In the end, we were able to find a place to stay for the night with the dogs at the Overlook Lodge in Bear Mountain State Park. Honestly, I was pretty happy to sleep in a bed versus on the ground.

A beautiful rainbow appeared as we were preparing to leave the campground.

Although my time at Beaver Pond Campground was short lived, it was a great moment of peace and aloneness in the early summer sun.

Bear Mountain State Park

Bear Mountain across Hessian Lake.

Hessian Lake

An “almost” full moon walk around Hessian Lake.
Bear Mountain Inn’s lights across Hessian Lake.

While staying at the Overlook Lodge we walked around Hessian Lake. Actually, we walked around the lake a few times.

  • A section of the path around Hessian Lake is the Appalachian Trail
    • the first section of the Appalachian Trail was created at Bear Mountain
  • Some parts of the trail around Hessian Lake retrace former military routes from the American Revolutionary War

Walking Summary Day 1: approximately 6 miles

Harriman State Park

The following day we went to the Bear Mountain State Park Office and got information on where we could camp with the dogs.

Repeatedly, while doing research on different hikes in Harriman State Park I read, “Buy a map. Buy a book with a map. Take the map with you.”

I downloaded a park map. I felt pretty good about my research and where we were going to be.

Tom Jones Shelter

Tom Jones Shelter was our destination. It was supposed to be about a half mile hike…

Victory Trail

And so the story goes…

“Did anyone see a red blaze?”

“I didn’t know we were looking for a red blaze. I think I saw a couple of red dots on a tree towards the beginning of our hike, but I can’t be sure.”

“We shouldn’t be going downhill.”

Eventually, we asked a passersby where we were, where the shelter was, and where were we heading if we continued down the trail we were on. We decided to keep going down the hill, and eventually we found an old road, and then randomly took a left…

I will admit I gave up at one point. I was adamant that I needed rewards. A vista, a waterfall, something to keep me motivated. I had nothing. Nothing but sunshine in the woods with black flies.

Moments after I gave up, two gentlemen walking by told us a lake was just around the corner, so we went to see if we could set up camp anywhere near the lake.

It was pretty much abandoned. We had gone through an area where some buildings had fallen into disrepair, but this abandoned area seemed a little more devastating. It was as if the place was returning to nature, and no one remembered this lake or its forgotten beach.

Lake Sebago

Abandoned Lake Sebago Beach.
  • Sebago is Algonquin for “big water”
  • Largest lake in Harriman State Park
  • Was created by flooding Johnsontown in 1925, a logging community founded in the 1700s
  • Lake Sebago Beach was destroyed by Hurricane Irene in 2011

Flower Moon Camping

I remember eating peanut butter bread near the fire while we listened to Alcest watching the full moon rise. Really kind of a perfect evening for me.

Full moon rising over Lake Sebago.
A view of our campfire.
Flower Moon over Lake Sebago.

Walking Summary Day 2: approximately 6 miles

6 o’clock in the morning…

Walking Summary Day 3: approximately 3 miles

Life is what you make it.

I had a fantastic time just going with the flow. It is amazing how well things can work out when you allow plans to change freely.

But if there is a lesson to be learned from this amazing excursion it would ultimately be, I should have bought a tangible map AND brought it with me.

May 17-19, 2019. All photos were taken by me, Alicen.

Good humored dogs ! Marley & Jazzy
Art in Destruction.
Lake Welch beginning of summer selfie!