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  1. #1

    Default Elk Park, NY near Arden Valley Rd.

    I am planning a section hike this upcoming May. I plan to start on Bear Mountain, where I left off this past fall, and hike south to Delaware Water Gap. I plan to camp my first night at the William Brien shelter, about 9 miles from the start. My problem is the next shelter, Fingerboard is only 5.3 miles. The one after that is Wildcat, but that is 19.6 miles from Brien. Guthook's AT guide lists a parking lot at Elk Park off Arden Valley Rd. There are pictures that show a large parking area and grassy fields. This is 9.6 miles from the Brien shelter. I am trying to plan for 9-11 mile days so it is in the perfect location. My question is if it is possible to tent at this location even though it does not have a designated tenting area? I know that I could continue on to NY 17 and get a room in Southfields but being how it will be only my second night and I will have my dog that is not a good option. Thanks for any input.

  2. #2
    Registered User coach lou's Avatar
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    No, you will not be able to camp in that field at Elk 'Pen'. You should be able to get to Fingerboard from Bear Mtn. Much better place. ..there are a zillion stealth opportunities thru the greater Harriman area. Between Elk Pen and Wildcat that will be all you find....stealth spots.

  3. #3

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    Many great camping spots on Island Pond Mountain as well, and on past Lemon Squeezer there is a hill just due north of Island Pond proper with some absolutely beautiful stealth camping spots... well, they're no so stealthy. Only downside is that there can be quite a bit of traffic noise from RT 17 and the NYS Thruway.

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    Registered User LIhikers's Avatar
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    All of the AT in NY and NJ only allow camping at official designated places.
    The alternative is to stealth camp when you can't make one of those places.
    There is no shortage of places out of sight, and sound, of the trail.

  5. #5

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    if you are not a purist, and want to follow the rules, you could take the second night at Bald Rocks shelter, a couple of miles off the AT south of Island Pond. Then rejoin the AT near Island Pond. See the NYNJTC Harriman north map for details.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

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    Registered User somers515's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LIhikers View Post
    All of the AT in NY and NJ only allow camping at official designated places.
    I believe it's more accurate to say MOST of the AT in NY and NJ . . . For example it is my understanding that camping is allowed in NJ near DWG national recreation area (about 2 miles north of Sunfish pond) as long as you are "thru hiking" which is defined in a way that would also cover section hiking. I'm not sure off the top of my head if there are other sections that camping is allowed outside of designated sites but I don't believe it's correct to say ALL.

  7. #7

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    I guess I would consider myself a purist if that means that I intend to follow the trail and not blue blaze. Last summer I hiked from the Vt/MA state line to Bear Mt. in NY. I was able to plan all my weekend hikes to tent at designated sites. I plan to start at Bear Mt and hike to DWG. This one night is the only one where a designated site does not fit into my plan. Fingerboard at only 5.3 from Brien is too short a day. I've never stealth camped so it makes me a little nervous, not sure what are the consequences.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kick Start View Post
    I guess I would consider myself a purist if that means that I intend to follow the trail and not blue blaze. Last summer I hiked from the Vt/MA state line to Bear Mt. in NY. I was able to plan all my weekend hikes to tent at designated sites. I plan to start at Bear Mt and hike to DWG. This one night is the only one where a designated site does not fit into my plan. Fingerboard at only 5.3 from Brien is too short a day. I've never stealth camped so it makes me a little nervous, not sure what are the consequences.
    I suppose you could be cited. May I suggest taking a short day to West Mountain, enjoy the exceptional view of NYC, and then continue to Fingerboard and beyond?
    Last edited by Feral Bill; 01-16-2016 at 20:16.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  9. #9

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    There is a shelter on the Long Path just off the AT, at about 5mi south of William Brien. I don't know the condition of the shelter, or whether it even exists anymore, but even if the shelter itself isn't there, there might be some tenting spots in that area.
    Here's a map, which gives you the mileage from the Bear Mountain Bridge.
    AT Harriman Tiorati.jpg

    Uh, sorry; I just realized that this shelter isn't far from Fingerboard.
    I would get an early start at the Bear, hike to Fingerboard. There isn't a reliable water source at William Brien anyway - although you may find a small "well" with water in it at the end of the "blue" blazed trail East about 0.1mi from the shelter. The trail blazes have worn, and aren't blue anymore - they're just a dull shade of gray. The trail starts up on the clump of rock just south (in AT terms, not compass) of the shelter. Turn left onto the trail. Remember that East off the AT always means left for SOBO.

    There is no water at Fingerboard, so get your water from Lake Tiorati before you reach it. You will have to take the blue blazed trail East just after you cross Arden Valley rd (before you reach the water tower), or just hike East on the road itself to the lake. It's a 0.6mi detour in all. There is no water between there and Fingerboard.
    I was at Fingerobard in November, and found a suitable tent site just below the shelter. If you are standing in front of the shelter with your back to it, the tent site would be to your left and down the hill about 100 yards.

    Edited: distance to water at Brien
    Last edited by Arden; 01-29-2016 at 23:52.

  10. #10

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    This is a very rugged section. When I was NOBO thru hiker, I wrote in my journal that it was one of the toughest sections I had hiked up to that point! I am also interested in that section for a NOBO section hike this spring from 17A and have been looking at Little Dam Lake bridge for camping and hopefully a water source. Little Dam Lake bridge is about 12 miles from Brien. I don't have a direct answer for you but will be waiting to hear if you do get good info on that parking lot - NH

  11. #11
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    My daughter and I section hiked north from Elk Pen last June and one of the things I remember is the number of people camping by Island Pond, which for you would be just a little south of the Lemon Squeezer and just before the downhill to Elk Pen. Must have seen at least twenty set ups along the lake. Hopefully in May wouldn't be as crowded. Might be a place to consider.

  12. #12

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    There is an absolutely GORGEOUS campsite on the NOBO ascent (SOBO descent) of Arden Mountain, an almost unnamed mountain which is notable on your AWOL guide because it has a named feature, but god I can't remember what it is right now. Something like the "Lemon Squeezer,' that kind of cheeky name. But it's not a big mountain.

    My friend and I stayed at Wildcat -> Arden Mtn Campsite -> West Mountain shelter (passed William Brien but before Bear Mtn, after I think Black Mountain?). It's gorgeous, we had the place entirely to ourselves. No water, hike it up with you from the road.

  13. #13
    Registered User art_mapman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Northern Harrier View Post
    This is a very rugged section. - NH
    Question, rugged how? Rocky, steep, other? The elevation changes on the map profile don't look too bad in terms of total elev gain. My question is based strictly on map recon, would appreciate any first-hand advice. Looking at a DWG-Pawling section hike at a future date TBD. I've also seen a lot of discussion on stealth camping, I understand it's officially frowned upon but it sounds like it's commonly done - any insights to offer on that? Thanks!

  14. #14
    I plan, therefore I am Strategic's Avatar
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    It can be pretty rugged for a few miles south of Elk Pen and NY17. Before that, not so much. I'll second the suggestion to camp beside Island Pond if you want to go on past Fingerboard. Once you cross NY17, you hit the Agony Grind, which is a very rugged, long, and steep climb up onto Arden Mt. if you're going SOBO. I would avoid that at the end of a hiking day myself. You'll have a reasonable day from Island Pond to Wildcat shelter, with all the real climbing in the morning, of about 13 miles. Not too much in the way of good camping spots between NY17 and Wildcat, though, so you'll want to make that in one day if you can. Just to give you an idea of what the Agony Grind is like, here are a couple of pics from my time (NOBO) on this section:

    Looking up the Agony Grind


    Agony Grind halfway point


    By the way, the camping regs in NJ are pretty weird, so it's best to consult the guidebooks to be sure what they are for any given place. There are areas where you can camp anywhere (like the area from 2 miles north of Sunfish Pond to Catfish Firetower) and areas where you can't. Check beforehand, since there are rangers in the state parks that will roust you if you're in a no-camping area.
    Last edited by Strategic; 04-15-2018 at 21:22.
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    Registered User linus72's Avatar
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    In addition to Agony Grind, don't forget there's the two scrambles on Buchanan Mtn including the "Devil's Ladder", Fitzgerald Falls, Cat Rocks and Eastern Pinnacles! Plenty of rocky scrambles through there though some great scenery!
    Doin' the trail one section at a time
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  16. #16
    I plan, therefore I am Strategic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by linus72 View Post
    In addition to Agony Grind, don't forget there's the two scrambles on Buchanan Mtn including the "Devil's Ladder", Fitzgerald Falls, Cat Rocks and Eastern Pinnacles! Plenty of rocky scrambles through there though some great scenery!
    True, but from Buchanan on those are mostly downhills rather than uphills going SOBO (Devil's Ladder and Fitzgerald Falls especially.) And for his purposes, he doesn't need to worry about Cat Rocks and the Eastern Pinnacles on the same day as the others, since those are south of Wildcat Shelter where he'd be stopping for the night.
    Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.
    Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

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    Registered User linus72's Avatar
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    fair enough. i found going up devils ladder way tougher than agony grind and its not in most guides and on the profile its hardly noticeable so we were caught way off guard on that one! going down it doesn't seem much more fun
    Doin' the trail one section at a time
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  18. #18
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    Strategic and Linus72, thanks for your insights. Kind of thinking NOBO but my planning is very preliminary right now. And yes, the pics make abundantly clear what "very rugged" means.

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