View Full Version : Harriman Shelters

12-04-2002, 19:08
Please be aware that shelters in Harriman State Park in NY do not have water sources. This would include Fingerboard, William Brien and West Mtn shelters. It's best to pack water into each shelter as the only other sources of water are far, downhill and always undependable. Although dry...West Mtn Shelter has a damn nice view and you can obtain water when you cross the Palisades Parkway, about 1.5 miles before the 0.6m side trail. Keep in mind the walk to the shelter is a lovely ridgewalk and worth the 0.6 detour. If you were to continue downhill past the shelter on the T-T (blue blaze) trail about 0.5 you might find water in Timp Pass...might. Hope this helps.

Papa Bear
01-23-2003, 10:49
Actually early in the season there is an active spring at Fingerboard. We found it running in April and I would estimte it would last probably through early June. Too soon for thrus but fine for early section hikers.

The thing that Harriman shelters lack is PRIVYS!! In such a heavily used section I thought it was outrageous to be digging cat holes where 100s of others had previuously dug cat holes. There was a 90% chance you would dig up someones else's leavings! Gross.


01-24-2003, 04:16
Yeah...privy's is another problem altogether. Atleast you can hit up Tiorati Circle which has flush toilets. The Fingerboard spring is about as dependable as the William Brien spring...which isn't saying much.

08-09-2003, 16:10
From Brien shelter you take the yellow blazed Menomine trail north (to the left and down the hill if you're facing into the shelter) about 0.5 mi and there is a reliable water source. It's Bockey Swamp brook, and has been running in all but the driest years. You can also continue to Silvermine lake (another 0.5 mi) if the brook is dry.

If you go another mile on the trail (along Silvermine lake) to the parking area you will find all-season facility with flush toilets and water.
Sometimes those side trips are nice. You leave your pack in the shelter (take your wallet, watch, etc with you) and go lite.
Of course I cannot guarantee that no one will touch your pack. I would certainly not, but there are lots of "city folk" who come up to Harriman on any given weekend. If you're there during the week there should be no problem at all.

I suspect that the very fact that the trail is so heavily traveled in Harriman is the reason there are no privvies. With so much use would be very difficult to keep them usable.

West Mountain shelter is definitely worth the side trip. View is fantastic. Nice sunsets (even though your view is southeast, you get the sun on the river and the town below)!
There are several usable sites to tent on the TT trail between the AT jct and the shelter.

02-03-2004, 22:01
Formerly Letterrock shelter, this shelter is named after William Brien, the first president of the NY Ramblers. In 1954, he bequeatheed $4,000 for a shelter, which was built in 1957 at Island Pond. Because of vandalism, that shelter was demolished in 1973 and the name transferred to the former Letterrock Shelter which was built in 1933 and referenced in Earl Shaffer's "Walking With Spring".

Hammock Hanger
02-04-2004, 09:53
I actually had no problem when I hiked thru in June 2002. However, I could see that as the summer progressed and no rains fell that they could dry up. There is always Torrti Circle. There is potable water near the bathrom. Personally I thought it smelled and looked bad, but it is there. HH

02-04-2004, 18:05
When I slept at Fingerboard shelter last june there was a resident bat. Freaked us out a bit at first but then everyone got used to it.
Yeah the shelters are very old in Harriman, but they've got some great character to them. The ridgewalk and view to West Mtn is one of the best!

02-14-2004, 20:35
I'm always amazed at how clean Harriman Park is (especially the Bear Mtn Inn area) considering all the use it gets. I think we owe this pleasure to the NY park rangers (and other maint personnel), and the trail maintainers!

Kozmic Zian
02-16-2004, 15:27
yea.....Harriman. Brings back good old memories. I used to do the NY Renaissance Festival at Sterling Forest, NY. I'd walk to The Trail, almost every day, hiking the Mombasha Highlands, Mt. Peter (above Greenwood Lake) and Harriman State Park. The trails in Harriaman were always beautiful, mysterious and historical. I swear, I found an Ancient Indian Encampment in there one summer. I think the NA's who were forced to move west, somehow stayed longer in The Harriman, Ramapo area. The evidence emplores this. I also found some primative rock hand tools, there. Great spot. Harrimannnnn............Yea. [email protected]

02-02-2005, 08:34
I've been to Harriman a number of times in the last few months and there's plenty of water to be had. Winter camping there is better than the other 3 seasons as you don't run into as many people. Anyone who is there in the middle of winter is almost always experienced and self sufficient. During "nice" weather that's a different story as Harriman is a playground for the millions of people who live in the New York City area and want to spend a day in the outdoors.

02-02-2005, 11:29
Please be aware that shelters in Harriman State Park in NY do not have water sources. This would include Fingerboard=======================================
Well ...it's true that there is no water source right at Fingerboard but you can walk down to the lake and gather water. It's a bit of a stroll but not any worse than some of the crazy downhill runs to water sources along the trail.

AT 2003

Rocks 'n Roots
02-04-2005, 00:32
I sawed up and removed the privy at West Mt Shelter. Our committee decided that the poop-covered pile of trash sticking up through the toilet seat annually wasn't working. The privies were more trash containers than anything.

There's some fine water at Fingerboard right below the shelter as you face out. It's right down in the seep directly in front about 100 yards or less. Goes stone dry in summer starting in late June. If dry, keep walking down the streambed for this spring before going all the way to the lake for water. It usually reemerges further down.

W. Brien Shelter has gigantic stones from European blooded New York hiking group members from the original days of the Project. Don't think it's possible to do that kind of work today. Up until about 20 years ago the shelter had a stone chimney right up through the center of the opening with an iron stove up 3 feet off the ground in the chimney. It was removed when the roof was rebuilt because the area was being stripped for wood.

W. Brien Shelter has a spring located down the blue-blazed trail as you face out. It's about 100 yards or so on the other side of the notch that the shelter is located in just before the drop off. It's a smallish stone box spring. Like Fingerboard it can also be dry in summer.

All the Harriman shelters were built with iron hand pumps as water sources. The park removed them when they realized they were being used more for vandalism than anything else.

Don't walk to Silvermine on the Menomine Trail because you can hit the bathroom at the median store on the Parkway for the same distance north on the Trail.

The best water for West Mt is a small spring located at the end of a small drainage right before you cross the dirt mine road just at the base of the climb. The water from this spring crosses the AT just before the mine road as well.

06-06-2012, 16:03
There is an intermittent spring on the blue blaze trail en route to the West Mountain shelter, maybe 100 yards before the yellow blaze trail veers off to the left. I have almost always been able to get water from it, more reliably than from the stream further down the blue blaze.

06-06-2012, 16:59
"intermittent spring on the blue blaze trail en route to the West Mountain shelter" - That is some nasty sulfur-infused water though

06-06-2012, 18:17
"intermittent spring on the blue blaze trail en route to the West Mountain shelter" - That is some nasty sulfur-infused water though

the brownish color of the water is from high concentrations of iron ore.

06-06-2012, 19:21
And the sulfur taste/odor is from groundwater moving thru iron pyrite deposits