50 miles of the Appalachian Trail extend through the Northwest...Read More
Hiking Harriman State Park & Jackie Jones Mountain
I am always looking for an excellent view while hiking and know many of you are doing the same. I especially enjoy finding off-the-beaten-path places that give me unique views you can’t get anywhere else. Harriman State Park is definitely that place.
Very early in the hike you come across a utility tower open to the public. Several flights of wooden stairs later, you come across incredibly beautiful views. And, on a clear day (or even a not-so clear day) you can see New York City! Love it!
So, if you’re looking for some great views in a easy-to-medium hike, then hiking Jackie Jones Mountain at Harriman State Park in Sloatsburg, NY is for you!
Features: Utility tower with incredible views
Hours: Dawn to Dusk, year around
Cost: Free to park at this location
Parking: Small parking area on side of road.
Dog Friendly: On-leash only
Location, Parking, and Bathrooms at Harriman State Park
Harriman State Park is an expansive park covering multiple lakes, beaches, trails, and areas in New York. For the Big Hill & Jackie Jones Mountain Trail you’ll want to start here. When driving to this location note that you’re not looking for a parking lot. Instead, this is only a parking area right off the road.
You’ll know you’ve parked in the right place because you’ll see the “hikers trailhead parking” sign. It’s small, but sits on a tree right in the middle of the parking area. This spot is beautiful on its own, as it’s right next to a flowing stream you can sit next to either before or after your hike.
As this is side-of-the-road parking, there are NO bathrooms here at all. Plan ahead and be prepared for that, because it is also a fairly remote area. There are not too many public restrooms available nearby either.
Harriman State Park Trail Map and Jackie Jones Trail Entrance and Path
Finding the start of this trail is a bit difficult. The reason for this is when you’re in the parking lot, you can see a trail that heads straight down to the stream and it makes you think that’s the right way. It isn’t and you do not want to head this way.
Instead, what you’ll want to do is walk up the road (yes, on the side of the road) towards the Harriman State Park sign. On the left, once you cross over the bridge, you’ll see a concrete road with a locked gate in front of it. It looks exactly like a place you’re not supposed to go – but this is the start of the trail. You’ll notice a short walk-around next to the gate for hikers to use.
This is actually the main road for a utility building you’ll see later on in the trail. You’ll only stay on the road for a minute or two before seeing the turn off to the left, which starts the dirt-path part of the trail.
Once you’re on the trail you’ll need to keep track of where you want to go. You’ll follow the Red –> Yellow –> Red –> Blue –> Teal –> Yellow –> Red.
So, it’s not easy to keep track of. While I was hiking I ended up being the guide for other hikers on the trail who had gotten lost. Be sure to use Alltrails or bring a map with you so you know which trail and which colored markers to follow.
Harriman State Park is massive, and you do not want to get lost out here.
Climbing the Tower on Jackie Jones Mountain at Harriman State Park
About a mile after you start hiking, you’ll come across the utility tower. This is by-far the main feature of the trail, and the only part of the trail that you will have views (at least in summer).
The biggest uphills on the trail also come in this first mile before getting to the tower. These aren’t too bad, or too steep – but just know, it’s not completely flat on the way to the tower. You will have to work for it a little bit.
When you reach the tower and look up expect your heart to start going. It’s taller than you expect, and it’s even taller than it looks in the picture. Going up the tower is okay – because you’re not looking down. And, although it’s incredibly sturdy and safe, this tower isn’t for those scared of heights.
It only takes a few minutes to climb it – but you will be going up several flights of stairs. Depending on your fitness level, this may be challenging. The stairways are very narrow as well. Definitely expect to go up them one at a time.
Once you get up to the top, though – the views are absolutely stunning. You can even see New York City on a clear day. The day I went wasn’t perfectly clear, so I did some photo editing to get the city to stand out in the photo. I was so excited, as I always seem to hike city-visible trails on days where the city isn’t actually visible.
Do you see New York City??
Sorry for the editing - had to really change the photo to get it to stand out. It was much clearer in person!
Aren’t the views breathtaking?? Seriously, I could have stayed up there for hours – but there were other people looking to see the views as well. So, after a few minutes taking it all in, I made the climb down. The climb down was harder – the narrow staircase in addition to looking at the ground the whole time got my heart racing. No issues though, and I made it down ready to continue on the hike!
What to Expect While Hiking the Trails at Harriman Sate Park
When beginning the Big Hill and Jackie Jones Mountain trail you should expect open trails, some of which can be wide and large. A few are even paved (or used to be paved).
However, once you leave Jackie Jones mountain, and especially when you connect to the red/blue/teal sections of the trail it becomes much more narrow and slightly overgrown in sections. These narrow paths wind their way through the woods and are sometimes lined with bushes full of berries. It’s beautiful, and really makes you feel like you are in a remote area.
All of the trails are extremely well marked – so as long as you know which color blazes to follow and when, you should be able to follow them through the entire hike.
I also saw so many mushrooms on this hike! It’s been such a rainy summer, and this has resulted in plants, animals, and fungi who thrive on moist conditions to really take over the woods. Here is one bright red mushroom that I snapped a picture of. But it was just one of many seen during the hike.
I also managed to grab a picture of this orange salamander crossing the trail. He was tiny, but I have wanted to see one of these in the wild for so long – so I was incredibly happy to see him!
Ending the trail at Harriman State Park
The Big Hill and Jackie Jones Mountain Trail is a loop trail. This means that you end where you started – and for this hike probably the first and last 0.75 miles are the same part of the trail.
You’ll know you’re getting close to where this trail loops back on itself when you come across this small flowing stream. I wouldn’t really call it a waterfall – it’s pretty tiny. But, it is a nice stream crossing that cools down the area and lets you know you’re getting close to the end. This area is also where I saw that orange salamander and bright red mushroom – so clearly, lots of living creatures to enjoy near this beautiful water source.
Once you pass this area, you’ll connect to the original loop pretty soon, and you’ll be on your way back to the parking lot in no time!
Other Tips to Remember
Harriman State Park is LARGE and I saw several lost people on the trail. They were only lost because they didn’t have a map or an all trails guide with them – so bring something to tell you where you are and where you should be going! You can easily get turned around in the entirely wrong direction if you make a wrong turn on the trail.
Have you been here before? Wanting to see the incredible views for yourself? Tell us about it below!
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