Last Sunday marked the 2nd monthly hike of the newly dubbed The Urban Hiking Adventure League of Justice Conquistadors. It was planned 3-4 weeks ahead of time, but there were many last minute changes. And somehow with 19 others, it ended up being a successful hike. More details & photos.
The plan was originally to meet at Port Authority and ride the bus together. But the week of, I sent out an email regarding the weather and the idea of renting a van. Then too many people responded with a yes, so the van was out. Of course when some people heard the van was out, they cancelled at the thought of taking the bus. Because of that and some other reasons, more people dropped out last minute. The morning of, I received a call from J, one of the hikers, saying that the bus tickets were double the price than we anticipated. Crap. Van it is. I put my smart phone and friends at work, stopping people from buying their tickets. We luckily ended up with 15 people at the bus station, just at max capacity for the van. I’m glad we did it because it ended up being just about the same price as a one way bus ticket.
Driving the van was also much faster than the bus. We got to the Elk Pen parking lot around noon. We met up with 3 more hikers that drove there and later on 2 more hikers.
Above: Our black ops van.
The trail head is just across the meadow behind the van. The path is not marked, but it has been flattened and easily noticeable.
The majority of the trail is fairly flat. You gain the most elevation in the first mile, but it’s not too steep. The entire trail was well marked and blazed, however at many intersections, there are little to no signs.
We started on the Appalachian Trail.
Above: D entering the Lemon Squeezer.
We took a long break at one of the highlights, a rock formation called the Lemon Squeezer (squeezer? I hardly know ‘er!). It’s literally a rock jungle gym. You get to enter through a short tunnel, then through a wedge (pictured above). Then there’s a bunch of walls you can climb, you can make it easy or harder depending on which way you go.
Above: Left – photo of the hikers; Right – a point of reference of where DY & I climbed to take this photo.
We left the Lemon Squeezer late and decided to go South on the Arden-Surebridge trail, but that is where we got lost. We were suppose to backtrack a little bit to go South. Instead, I lead the group further eastward.
Of course, none of us realized this until we passed:
Above: Times Square intersection.
We were way off course! At this point, we decided to just backtrack since we were at our half way point in terms of distance. This was not all in vain, as some passing hikers told us to go off course a bit more to check out the Pineswamp mine, on the Dunnbar trail.
Above: Entrance to Pineswamp Mine
Pineswamp mine, like many surrounding mines, was an iron mine. They are no longer mine-able, but they are definitely climbable! The side trail to this mine was a bit hidden. You have to climb up a small hill to get down to the base of the mine.
Above: A free climbing the iron stained mine walls.
Above: Looking out the iron mine from the furthest inside point.
So after getting our hands dirty at the mind, we all turned around and returned down the same path. Trails always look different going backwards. At some points I was afraid we got off trail again, but we made it!
We even took a side on the gravel road to get to the edge of Island Pond.
Above: Me & M at Island Pond.
The weather held out, it was chilly, but mosquitoes still managed to hatch and swarm around the pond around 5pm. We were very lucky to have dodged rain!
Above: sunset seen from Elk Pen.
When we all got back to the parking lot, we stretched and said goodbye to the 5 hikers who drove their own cars. The rest of us climbed back into the van, accomplished, and M drove us back to NYC.
Above: View of NYC and NJ driving on the George Washington Bridge.
Above: GPS data from J’s watch
While, we did get lost, this was a successful hike! We hiked about the same distance we would if we had stayed on course. We got to see the Lemon Squeezer and an iron mine – the only 2 sights on our list!
Above: Green – original trail; Purple – actual path taken.
- NY-NJ Trail Conference Page for initial hike.
- More info of original trail & pictures from NYC Day Hiking.
- Google Map of nearby bus stop.