When I started Daring Dayhikes about a year and a half ago, I thought it would be about places far from our New York home, and hikes that would form the highlights of our vacations. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic our vacations are indefinitely suspended and we are hiking infrequently and nearby. These days it’s “daring” to go outside at all. Not what I intended.
This weekend, Spring is in full glory and the weather wonderful. I consulted my trail maps and decided that on what I thought would be some less-traveled areas in Bear Mountain State Park. We got an early start. To our dismay (but not our surprise), the parking lots were already pretty full. We got in anyway without much trouble and set off through the tunnel at the south end of the parking lot, onto the 1777 Trail (named for the 1777 British troop movements of the Revolutionary War). We took the left fork at the blue-blazed Cornell Mine Trail. It crossed a deserted paved road (more on that shortly) before coming to a creek with a lovely waterfall.
The trail is typical of Harriman State Park / Bear Mountain State Park, a mature hardwood forest with numerous boulders left there by the glaciers. (The correct term is an “erratic”.)
The trail wound up Cornell Mountain, occasionally giving views of the Hudson River and the Bear Mountain Bridge.
We reached a well-signed intersection with the red-dot blazed Ramapo-Dunderberg (R-D) Trail, and turned right to ascend Bald Mountain. From here, we had the best views of the day.
My pictures don’t show any people, but this hike was busier than I had planned. Mostly people kept a safe distance and put on their masks as we approached (we did), but not everyone.
We continued on the R-D trail until it reached the 1777 Trail again. This time, the trail was on “Pleasant Valley Road”. That sounds much more official than it was. The “road” hadn’t been used by vehicles in at least half a century. It took us into Doodletown, a village founded in the seventeenth century and abandoned in the late 1950’s. The NYS Park Service bought the land and now it is inside the state park and not much noticed. Some historic markers show where buildings used to be.
Eventually, we reached the paved portion of Pleasant Valley Road, but it wasn’t very paved.
This was the same road we crossed earlier on the Cornell Mine trail.
We ran into some people who were enthusiastic about Doodletown history, encouraging us to look at the cemetery stones and read about the different buildings and families. There were also some people with serious bird-watching gear.
We often hike through New York woods where there are stone walls separating nothing in particular, and ruined cellars of old buildings. I don’t know how old those are, but the Doodletown area is unusual because there has been some historical analysis of it, and markers with information. Some of the markers are in disrepair, and most of the ruins are overgrown.
It was great to get outside again.