Did a walk from Ramapo Valley to Ilgenstein Rock and Bald Mountain. Once I got past MacMillan Reservoir, I didn't see anyone until Cactus Ledge near the end of the walk. Not too difficult except for the overall length of the walk. My hat off to those who do the Ramapo Four in one day!
Continued from Ilgenstein Rock to Bald Mountain on an un-named trail straight north from Pierson Exploration. Not a very scenic trail with lots of empty beer cans and car wrecks.
Buck Mountain (Wyanokies)
I got one of the last spots that were left in the parking lot but didn't actually see all that many people out. The scrambly part in the first part of the climb was fun and there were some good views.
Quick hike after bagging Buck Mountain. I thought the fire pit with all the stone chairs around it was interesting but I was bummed to see a bunch of graffiti.
This was by far my favorite hike of the day. Some nice continuous climbing with great views and just enough rocks to keep things interesting.
Parked at the small pulloff on Westbrook Road and took the blue trail up to Manticou Point. Had to balance my way across the stream on rocks and logs from the start and this trail is definitely not very frequently used. It's steep, not super well marked, and has a few sizable blowdowns. Lots of ups and down from Manticou Point, but other than that smooth sailing. The power cut has a lot of thorn bushes.
A nice hike with an adequate amount of bushwhacking. Lots of visitors near Scarlet Oak Pond and MacMillan Reservoir, but once I got on the Red/Silver trail, I didn't see anyone. Climbed up and back the north side. Not bad. Lots of blueberry bushes and not much barberry and multi-flora rose. Lots of gnats but no mosquitos yet.
County House Mountain
Parked at the pull-off on Axford Avenue and went directly (more or less) toward the summit. Went as far as the No Trespassing signs.
I miss winter! It was in the low 80s today. Covered up to protect myself from the multiflora rose and barberry. Not too bad. Left doggies home today. Although the walk was only a mile and a half, it was bushwhacking the entire way.
Big Beech Mountain
Nice hike up from Long Pond Ironworks visitor center. There was quite a bit of climbing, some of it relatively steep, but the views and the fact that the summit was not all that far off the trail made it enjoyable. I stopped at one of the ledges on my way down and heard a loud rattle right next to me. There was a pretty sizable rattlesnake; guess they're out now.
Backtracked down Big Beech and took the woods road that links up with the yellow trail. Other than the blazes, the yellow trail really isn't any different than the woods road; it was very wet and muddy with tons of ruts. Took the yellow trail for a while and then followed a pretty twisting network of woods roads. That stopped near the base of Hasenclever Hill and it was a straight shot up from there. Pretty decent views from the top. On my way down I went off the wrong side of the mountain and had to deal with some pretty steep thorny sections.
Parked on the side of the road near the Jennings Hollow Fire Road trailhead (crossing the bridge) and then headed straight up the mountain. Pretty straightforward but very steep the whole half mile or so up. Once I reached the top I started going down too soon so I got a little bit cliffed out. After some precarious downclimbing, I made it down safely but definitely need to get better about taking the same route up and down.
Parked at Ramapo Reservation and headed for Bear Swamp Lake. I had a little bit of trouble; Ramapo Reservation has done a pretty substantial overhaul of their trail system since I bought my map so it was really out of date. Bought an online map when I got to an intersection that just didn't exist on my map.
Once I reached the intersection of the red trail near Bear Swamp Lake and the pipeline cut that goes to the summit, I decided to go for Drag Hill first because it looked like it was a longer climb than Rocky Mountain. It was a short but steep climb on pretty loose terrain. The descent down that same loose terrain was the hardest part of the whole day.
After getting back down Drag Hill, I headed for Rocky Mountain. The climb wasn't as bad but there was more bushwhacking involved to reach the summit.
I bushwhacked down the side of Rocky Mountain to get to the road that goes around Bear Swamp Lake. Crossed the little bridge over the outflow and began to head up. There were some very nice switchbacks going up here, which was a relief after the straight up and down of the last two peaks. Stopped for lunch at the lookout and then continued towards the true summit. The coordinates I had down for the summit weren't very accurate so there was a little bit of extra bushwhacking involved, but I got there.
I was initially planning on ending this hike after reaching Ilgenstein Rock, but it was still pretty early and I was feeling good so I decided to push on to Mount Defiance. I didn't realize until much later that this almost doubled the length of the hike. I headed off the trail a little bit further from the top to try to find a fun but safe route up the little cliffs below the summit. It took a few attempts but I found a way up, went to the big pile of rocks at the summit, and then headed back down the green trail, which is the same way I came up. Wasn't a huge fan of taking the green trail back up to the other side of the valley, essentially doubling the climb up Defiance, but it was good training.