Lemon Squeezer – Appalachian Trail

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The Lemon Squeezer - Appalachian Trail
Scramble through the Lemon Squeezer – a narrow rock crevice on the Appalachian Trail – and hike past Island Pond, Boston Mine, Green Pond, and the Valley of Boulders.

8.2 miles. Rugged and rocky trail surface, but other than the Lemon Squeezer area, no real scrambling.

  • Shorter: 4.0 miles – Just to the Lemon Squeezer and back, from the Elk Pen parking lot, which also passes Island Pond.
  • Longer – Harriman has such an extensive network of trails… anything is possible. We do recommend having the map set below when hiking at Harriman, simply because there are so many trail junctions.

Our two cents: The Lemon Squeezer is a really interesting and fun section of the Appalachian Trail. The AT goes through a tight opening in large rocks, squeezes through a narrow section, then scrambles up a rock face.

The scramble up is harder than it appears from looking at a photo and the shorter you are, the harder it is – but it’s totally doable for most. Unlike most scrambles in the NJ hiking area… you actually need to use your arms to haul yourself up there.

The scramble can be easily avoided by following the sign that says “easy way”. But at least give it a shot… it’s a fun challenge.

For those who are also lacking in the height department:  The white blaze is on the left side, but I think going up on the right side, is easier.

It also is nice to have someone spotting you because it feels like you are leaning back a bit.

Updates: 7/2018 – Minor change in parking directions (via Rt 17 in N ) and update to yellow trail. 10/15/15 – Revised description; adjusted for the reroute of Stahahe where it no longer crosses the stream due to the bridge being gone. Added new photos and GPX.

Map:

#119 of the Harriman-Bear Mountain Trails mapset.

Books:

A shorter variations are found in Circuit Hikes in Harriman, Take a Hike New York City and Hike of the Week. Detailed trail descriptions can be found in Harriman Trails: A Guide and History.

Parking: N41 15.888 W74 09.266 [Elk Pen Lot]

Garden State Parkway North to 17 N to Rt 287 N to Rt 87/17N. Take exit 15A and turn left onto Rt 17 N. Pass the main entrance to the park and keep going, then turn right on Arden Valley.

Cross the bridge over the Thruway, and turn right into the large dirt lot next to a field.

There are many parking areas to access the extensive trail system at Harriman, and you can approach the Lemon Squeezer from a lot of directions. We chose to start at the Elk Pen lot, which is probably the closest to the Squeezer.

Restrooms:

None. There is a Valero on Rt. 17 N. in Mahwah NJ just before getting onto 287…. or use the last rest area on the Parkway if taking that to Rt 87 instead. There are some stores along 17 in New York such as Dunkin Donuts and a small gas station, then another gas station a little further along.

Note: On the Thruway are signs for a rest area 2 miles north of exit 15a – but if you go to that, there is no turnaround and the next exit is far far out of the way… we made that mistake many years ago, so now you don’t have to.

Note: The cool stone bridge at the end of the video is no more as it was washed out during a hurricane.

Hike Directions:

Overview: Appalachian Trail  (WHITE) – Long Path (TEAL) – Arden-Surebridge (A-SB – RED TRIANGLE on WHITE) – Lichen (Blue L on White) – Ramapo-Dunderberg (RED DOT on WHITE) – Dunning (YELLOW) – Nurian (White) – Stahahe Brook (RED BAR on WHITE) – Arden-Surebridge (A-SB – RED TRIANGLE on WHITE)

*Quick note about blaze color… there are multiple trails marked red, blue etc, but they often have ways to differentiate… a BLUE L, a RED triangle, a RED DOT. The back of the Harriman-Bear Mountain Trails lists the color and shape, if any, for each trail.

0.0 – From the parking lot, follow the path in the center of the field to the edge of the woods and turns right.

Quickly turn LEFT and start following the Appalachian Trail (WHITE). The trail soon heads steadily up.

1.2 – Follow the Appalachian Trail (WHITE) as it turns LEFT when reaching a woods road [the road also goes to the right].

In just a bit, you may spot an casual trail on the right. This also leads to the pond but it’s not worth it.

1.4 – Arrive at a wide gravel road, called Island Pond Road on the map. Turn RIGHT and follow the gravel road through the small parking lot for nice views over Island Pond.

There are casual paths to the rocks for a break. When ready, retrace your steps and turn RIGHT to keep following the Appalachian Trail (WHITE).

2.1 – Continue on the Appalachian Trail (WHITE) to the LEFT and enter the Lemon Squeezer. Shimmy through the tight passage. Scramble up the rocks or follow the sign for “easy way” to skip it.

Either way, continue on the Appalachian Trail (WHITE).

2.9 – Large signpost for a 4-way junction. Turn RIGHT and now follow the Long Path (TEAL plus a Long Path circular disc). The trail follows the edge of a wet swampy area on the left.

3.5 – Turn LEFT and now follow Arden-Surebridge (A-SB – RED TRIANGLE on WHITE). (Also blazed for Long Path).

[In a few steps, pass the WHITE BAR trail on the right.]

3.8 – Turn RIGHT and now follow the Lichen Trail (BLUE L on WHITE). The overgrown trail heads up to an open rock slab area with some boulders to sit on for a break with a wide view to the west and Island Pond.

4.3 –  Turn RIGHT and now follow Ramapo-Dunderberg (RED DOT on WHITE). [Lichen Trail (BLUE L on WHITE) ends]. Follow the markers across open rock faces.

There were tasty ripe blueberries along the trail one time we hiked this… if it’s late June into July, maybe you will luck out too.

4.7 – Turn RIGHT and now follow Dunning (YELLOW). [Dunning (YELLOW) also goes straight.]

5.1 – Keep following Dunning (YELLOW) as it turns LEFT, it’s also blazed WHITE BAR.

5.3 – Continue following Dunning (YELLOW) as it turns RIGHT and is no longer joined with WHITE BAR.

5.8 – Pass the entrance to the Boston Mine on the right. Continue following Dunning (YELLOW) as the Nurian (WHITE) trail comes in, is co-joined, and then leaves.

6.1 – Continue on Dunning (YELLOW) past the small Green Pond. The trail is rocky with just a little bit of almost scrambling.

6.4 – Veer LEFT and now follow Nurian (WHITE). [Dunning (YELLOW) ends]

This intersection was unclear the day we hiked this, white markers weren’t obvious and 2 of the 3 yellow markers indicating the trail end were missing the day we hiked (now there; thanks to Jude W. for update).

Head through the Valley of Boulders (a section of large boulders to walk through) before going downhill.

7.0 – Veer RIGHT and now follow Stahahe (RED BAR on WHITE). [Nurian (WHITE) goes left and crosses the stream.]

7.5 – The trail turns to the right near where the remnants of a bridge are visible. Continue following Stahahe (RED BAR on WHITE) on what is now a woods road.

Stahahe (RED BAR on WHITE)ends and becomes Arden-Surebridge (RED) [which also goes RIGHT] but you likely won’t even notice. Pass fields on the left.

8.1 – Turn LEFT back onto the path to the parking lot.

Hiked 10/12/15.
Hiked: 6/27/10. Trail Blog: “Lemon Squeezer – Harriman State Park, NY