Monday, May 23, 2016

Popolopen Gorge and Torrey Memorial scouting hike

Popolopen TorneI'll be leading the annual Torrey Memorial hike for the Ramblers this fall, and I decided to go ahead and scout it now. I'd already planned the route, but I wanted to make sure it would work.

The only rules for the hike are that you have to go to the memorial, which is at the northern edge of Harriman State Park. Since I've been wanting to go to Popolopen Torne, my plan was to go in via Bear Mountain, through the gorge and up the torne, to get to the memorial. This adds a time constraint, because the Bear Mountain bus schedule leaves you under 7 hours to hike.

My friend and I dawdled a little bit at the beginning, taking photos, looking for birds, and taking in the scenery. Popolopen Gorge is quite scenic although hard to photograph, especially once the trees are leafed out. Then the going was slow up the torne; it was not only steeper than I realized, but it also required a lot of rock scrambling. That's always fun, but it's not fast. The view near the summit, of the Bear Mountain Bridge and Anthony's Nose, is spectacular, as you can see in the photo above. At the actual summit is a memorial to fallen soldiers and a view of West Point land.

Turkey Hill LakeAfter descending, we continued on to Queensboro Lake via a mostly flat trail. At that point, we realized we really needed to hike faster and proceeded on to Turkey Hill Lake (second photo), and uphill to the memorial. The memorial is hard to miss, being carved right into the rock of the trail, and is another site for great views.

We had to hurry back, but we were taking a shorter route, back past Queensboro Lake but then over the parkway via the 1777 and SBM trails - both of us experiencing flashbacks to the SBM end-to-end! Aside from two small hills, the return hike is mostly flat or downhill. Also, while it is pretty, there is little scenery so grand on this section you simply must stop.

I hope that the leaves will still be turning when we return at the end of October; of course, if they're off, we'll have even more clear views in the gorge. It should be a great hike, although I'll try to keep a more even pace.

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