With a few variations, this was a repeat of my June 12, 2011 solo hike. I therefore did not take many photographs and will not offer much of a description, as I described the hike in my earlier post.
This day, I went with three friends. I had originally planned to organize a larger group and go to Connecticut for an easy hike involving a shuttle, but the disinterest/unavailability of hikers and especially the unavailability of a second driver ruled out that plan, and therefore we opted to do this more strenuous hike.
As before, I parked in the Elk Pen on Arden Valley Road in Harriman State Park, and we followed the Appalachian Trail (AT) south, walking along Arden Valley Road as it crossed the Ramapo River and I-87, then we crossed New York Route 17 and entered into the forest. We climbed Agony Grind and continued on the AT.
Instead of turning left (south) onto the Sterling Forest blue trail as soon as we came to it, we instead continued on the AT, as the Sterling Forest map shows a scenic view from Arden Mountain, close to where the AT crosses County Road 19. Either the view was not that impressive, or else we did not walk far enough to find it, as we did not walk all the way to the road.
We then backtracked north on the AT, took the blue trail into Sterling Forest, then the yellow-blazed Indian Hill trail to the left.
On my first trip, I had then taken the red-blazed Furnace Loop trail to the left (clockwise), but this time I took it to the right (counterclockwise). In my first post, I mentioned crossing a small brook coming from a tiny unnamed lake. On this return visit, by taking the red trail to the right we got to visit this little lake.
We continued on, visiting Southfields Furnace.
We then walked along Orange Turnpike back to Route 17. We crossed Route 17, walked up Railroad Avenue, along the tracks, through the woods and across the pedestrian bridge over the Ramapo River and then across the Southfields Pedestrian Bridge over I-87 into Ramapo.
Whereas on my first visit the 1894 Arden Road was overgrown and I had to climb the Nurian trail to the Stahahe Brook trail to return to the Elk Pen, on this trip we found that the Arden Road was not quite as overgrown. We were able to hike along it, detouring into the woods only a couple of times to get around overgrown areas. While walking through the weeds and thorns wasn’t so much fun, it allowed us to avoid the elevation gain of the Nurian trail. We also saw two deer, and I photographed the first one:
The Arden Road then came to an end at Stahahe Brook, which we crossed. I had remembered a bridge here and was confused that I wasn’t seeing it, but upon reviewing the Trail Conference website I see that the bridge had been destroyed by Hurricane Irene and that the decision was made just to place stepping stones in the brook, which served us fine. [It may not be possible to cross the brook in the Spring season, though.] We then followed the Stahahe Brook trail and Arden-Surebridge trail back to the Elk Pen.