Where is Harriman State Park
Seven Lakes Dr / Bear Mountain Circle Ramapo, NY 10974
Harriman State Park is located 30 miles north of New York City, in both Rockland and Orange counties. It’s close proximity to NYC and the surrounding metro area gives city dwellers a taste of the state’s countryside. On its northeastern edge, the park borders Bear Mountain State Park (5,000 acres) and the United States Military Academy’s forest reserve (16,000 acres). On the southwest side, it partially borders Sterling Forest Reserve (18,000 acres). Together, this land amounts to a large portion of contiguous protected forests and terrain.
How Big is Harriman State Park
Harriman US State Park is the second largest state park in New York, with over 47,000 acres, 31 lakes and reservoirs, 200 miles of hiking trails, two public beaches, two campgrounds, a network of group camping sites, miles of streams and scenic roads, and several vista points. All in all, the park is enormous. Harriman’s main facilities include Lake Welch, Sebago, Tiorati and Silvermine, the Anthony Wayne Recreation Center, Sebago Cabins, and Beaver Pond Campground. There are also many amenities between gift shops and grills to boat launches, playing fields, and showers.
Harriman State Park Weather
Harriman State Park has warm, humid summers, freezing winters, and cloudiness year-round. Over the course of the year, temperatures vary greatly from 19°F in the winter to 82°F in the summer. Temperatures rarely drop below 4°F or raise above 89°F. The warmest months of the year are from the end of May to mid-September, with an average daily high of 72°F. The coldest time of year starts in early December and lasts until mid-March, with temperatures averaging around 43°F. The coldest months are in January and February, with an average low of 19°F and high of 34°F. Snow is typical during this time. The park is likely to be overcast a majority of the year, especially between November to June. Rain is common year-round, with a 37% chance of precipitation during the wet season.
When did Harriman become a State Park
For decades, the Harriman’s owned 30,000 acres as a part of their estate in Arden, New York. In 1905, the state planned to build a prison on Bear Mountain, essentially in their backyard. After the death of her husband in 1909, Mary Harriman proposed to donate 10,000 acres of land and $1 million to create a state park instead. The state did away with the plan to build the prison and appropriated an additional $2.5 million to acquire more land and help with park development.
The park was largely underdeveloped until the 1930s, when it received an influx of free labor during the Great Depression. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was created to put thousands of unemployed young people to work, building lakes, bridges, roads, trails, and other improvements in state and national parks throughout the country. Some of CCC landmarks in Harriman State Park include Welch, Silvermine, Pine Meadow, Wanoksink, Turkey Hill, and Massawippa Lakes.
Things to do in Harriman State Park
There a quite a few things to do in the vast acreage of Harriman State Park. Between the countless trailheads, numerous waterways, and miles of winding roads, there is no room for boredom in the park. Our State Park Visitors Guide highlights the main things you won’t want to miss.
Ice skaters are welcome on Lake Tiorati and Lake Silvermine during the winter months. It’s vital to check and double check that the lakes are completely frozen over and safe to skate on. The park will post a green sign or flag when the ice has an average of 6 inches of good, quality ice. Ice skating is only permitted when this ice safety sign is out. Skaters should keep a healthy distance from any ice fisherman and their fishing holes.
Believe it or not, the infamous Appalachian Trail travels through Harriman State Park. Take note of the white-blazed markers; this indicates a section of the trailhead. The Appalachian Trail leads hikers over the Bear Mountain Bridge and across the northern part of Harriman State Park.
During the peak season, trails and beaches tend to get overcrowded with visitors. This is a great opportunity to experience the park from the water. Boating is only permitted from April 1st to November 30th and between the hours of 5 AM to 10 PM. Additionally, visitors must obtain a seasonal boating pass. Some of the best boating lakes include Lake Tiorati, Lake Welch, and Pine Meadow Lake, along with many more.
Harriman State Park has easy, moderate, and challenging trails alike. There are more than 40 marked hiking trails and another 57 unmarked trails. Some of the most challenging hikes include Long Path, the Dunning Trail, and the Cranberry Mine Trail. Long Path is a 25 mile journey. It is a relatively moderate trail, but there is little to no shelter even with the extensive mileage. Dunning Trail follows along former mining paths, making it a very steep traverse. Cranberry Mine Trail is rough and not well-marked.
Starting in 1913, the Palisades Interstate Parks Commission built dozens of group camps throughout the park to help struggling communities with hot meals and outdoor opportunities. This is now modeled throughout the country and even the world. The group camp facilities are nestled in the woods and consist of dining halls, cabins, and recreational buildings. It even offers environmental education programs for those wanting to learn more about earth science.
West Mountain Shelter
West Mountain is one of the most popular spots throughout the entire park. It’s a beautiful, old stone that is perched on a cliff that overlooks the Hudson River and New York City Skyline. It is a heavily trafficked destination. Many hikers opt to spend the night in West Mountain Shelter.
Harriman State Park has some extremely challenging bike trails for avid mountain bikers. For those that prefer rougher rides, check out Blue Mountain Reserve and Rogue Trails. Most head to the trails during the fall or spring months when the crowds are not as large and there is little snow on the ground.
Anthony Wayne Hill
This hill is more like a steep mound, just off of a major road. It’s open year-round for hikers, with many scenic overlooks in the area. Many hikers and cross-country skiers will start at Anthony Wayne Hill and head north to Queensboro Lake or south to the Cat’s Elbow.
This is one of the largest lakes in the park. Its shape resembles two fingers connected with a strip of water. It is one of the only lakes in the park that has a boat launch, making it the ideal spot to trailer your watercraft. Many enjoy fishing here as well, with opportunities to catch bass and perch in the deeper waters and catfish in the shallower sections.
There are tons of scenic overlooks found in sections of the hiking trails. Some of the best overlooks with the unforgettable views are in Turkey Hill Pond, Stock Bridge, Pine Swamp Mountain, and Panther Mountain. There are also many watchtowers throughout the park. Some popular ones are on Jackie Jones Mountain and the Stahahe High Peak tower.
When to go to Harriman State Park
Harriman State Park can be visited year-round, with different activities rotating season to season. The most popular times to visit are during the summer and fall seasons. For warm-weather activities like hiking, boating, and swimming, mid-June to mid-September is the best time to visit. All trails, campsites, and lake areas are open to enjoy. However, the Northeast’s famous fall foliage is truly something special. The weather is crisp, and every vista point showcases the burnt-red, orange, and yellow trees. For winter-lovers, the park is great for cross-country skiing, ice fishing, and ice skating. The park empties out during the off-season, giving visitors acres upon acres of a peaceful, quiet oasis. Overall, there’s no right or wrong time to visit Harriman, it all depends on your interests and preferred temperatures.
Must-Have things to bring to Harriman State Park
Here are the top ten essentials to bring along your visit to Harriman State Park. From gear to food to safety equipment, we’ll have everything covered here.
The weather can be quite unpredictable at Harriman State Park, especially during the winter. List of Parks wants you to prepare yourself for any situation that may arise. Prepare for cold weather conditions by layering your clothes. A hat, scarf, and warm gloves are all necessities. Don’t underestimate a New York winter.
Don’t forget to bring bottled water to help keep your hydration level steady and ready for any activity. There is water available to purchase in the park’s main areas. If you plan to go on a long hike, there is no guarantee water will be available along the way.
Pack adequate snacks to ensure your energy level does not dip. With any physically challenging activity, you will work up a hefty appetite. Bring some high-energy and fuel-worthy snacks to prepare for the inevitable. We recommend nuts, bars, fruit, vegetables, bread, etc.
When visiting during the colder season, a thermos full of coffee, hot chocolate, or tea will go a long way. Remember – the park can fluctuate from chilly to freezing. Warm yourself up from the inside out. Layered clothing is the first step and a nice, hot drink is the second. Not to mention, this will help with hydration as well.
Mountain Bike Gear
As mentioned earlier, the biking trails are quite difficult. Bring lots of gear and anything necessary to ensure a safe ride. Throw a reasonably-sized first aid kit in your backpack. This extra precaution will give you peace-of-mind in case of an accident. Make sure you wear the correct safety gear, like a helmet and proper padding.
Dogs are welcome on any of the hiking trails, but New York State requires they remain on a leash at all times. If you plan to bring along your furry friend, make sure to remember a leash, as well as drinking water and food for the dog.
There are endless fishing opportunities in the lakes, ponds, and streams of Harriman State Park. Visitors can enjoy fishing from the shore or on a boat in the summer and ice fishing during the winter. Avid anglers have a good chance to catch bass, perch, catfish, trout, sunfish, pickerel, and crappie. Don’t forget a rod, line, bait, hooks, and lures!
Before heading out on a hike, be sure to dress for the occasion. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes that will support your traverse along the trail. Some of the trails can be extremely difficult and long; pack proper hiking boots for something like this. A backpack and walking stick are also good things to have.
New York can get very buggy, especially in hot, humid weather. Unless you want to be itching for days on end, pack an abundance of bugspray. Don’t forget to reapply throughout the day. Remember, the mosquitos come out to feast during sunset. Add two layers of spray for extra protection.
The Northeast experiences rain year-round, and a lot of it. No matter the season, bring a rain jacket or poncho. Hopefully you won’t get rained on, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. In Harriman, the wet season lasts from April to August, but rain is common throughout the entirety of the year.
Where to stay in Harriman State Park
There are many opportunities to stay at a designated campground or overnight shelter in the park. Beaver Pond Campground is mostly a tent camping site, but can accommodate small RVs, trailers, and campervans up to 30 feet. All sites have fire rings, picnic tables, and grills. Spots can be reserved ahead of time or given on a first-come, first-served basis. The campground is adjacent to Lake Welch. Otherwise, there are a number of cabins and other shelters located along many of the trails. This is a great option for avid hikers. Some of the popular ones include Bald Rocks on the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail, Dutch Door on the White Bar Trail, Fingerboard on the Hurst Trail, and Cave Shelter on Long Path.
Food Nearby Harriman State Park
There are areas within the park where visitors can purchase food. Additionally, there are quite a few convenience stores and restaurants just outside of Harriman State Park. Some popular options include Seven Lakes Station, Sushiville, Characters Bar & Restaurant, Steve’s Tuxedo, and Fink’s BBQ and Cheesesteak Roadhouse.
Airports near Harriman State Park
Many visitors travel to Harriman State Park from New York City. LaGuardia Airport, located in Queens, New York, is a quick 50-minute drive to the park. JFK Airport, also in Queens, is about 1 hour outside of Harriman. From LaGuardia or JFK, visitors can drive to the park, but they may encounter some tolls and traffic. Public transportation, like the Port Authority bus or NJ transit, is also available.