Nimham Mountain Fire Tower and Bear Mountain

I’ve been trying to find some places to explore closer to home (alas, vacation days for another long trip are sparse right now) so I’ve been using The Outbound to squirrel away local hikes. The Nimham Mountain Fire Tower post caught my eye — how gorgeous are those sunrise photos?? — as it was less than 2 hours away, and was more of a short uphill walk than a hike.

Nimham Mountain Fire Tower

I’d recently joined the Northeast Collective’s facebook community and decided I may as well see if I could interest any other local photographers in my plans. Lucky for me, Meg responded! We decided that aiming for a 5:50am sunrise, an hour and forty-five minutes away from where we live would be pushing it juuust a bit, and decided to meet at Nimham Mountain at 6:30 instead.

That being said, it was still a very early start for a Sunday morning. I left my apartment around 5, watching as the sky went from dark, to pink, to beautifully sunny.

Nimham Mountain Fire Tower

Have I mentioned I have a fear of heights that doesn’t really impact my life in any way until I’m climbing up an open metal structure in the middle of the woods? No? Thank goodness for Meg, my stomach was in my throat and I nearly stopped halfway up the Nimham Mountain Fire Tower, but she encouraged me up to the top! Definitely worth it for the view — it’s rare in New Jersey to find a high enough spot for such a viewpoint, and I always forget just how close New York’s Hudson Valley is for experiences like these.

Nimham Mountain Fire Tower

Nimham Mountain Fire Tower

Nimham Mountain Fire Tower

When it came to finding spots to pose Meg was much more adventurous than I was. I just can’t ever shake the irrational fear that I’ll accidentally shift my weight the wrong way and plunge to my death, but she was game for it!

Nimham Mountain Fire Tower

Nimham Mountain Fire Tower

(Some of the graffiti up there was hysterical — my personal favorite is “Dante your father’s lasagna was too salty”.)

Nimham Mountain Fire Tower

We did encounter a bit of a weird situation at this spot — a troop of French-speaking boy scouts (or I guess..,the French-Canadian (?) equivalent of boy scouts) standing in a circle, doing calisthenics at the base of the fire tower. By the time we got down, they’d taken off their shirts and gone for a group jog in their khakis. It was like something out of a Wes Anderson movie, and not really something you expect to encounter that early in the middle of the woods.

Since it wasn’t even 7:30 in the morning by the time we were done at the tower, we decided to make a detour at Bear Mountain on the way back to NJ.

Bear Mountain New York

Bear Mountain has a scenic road to the top, so it was a quick and easy stop over. I’d like to go back sometime and check out the lake that’s at the base, and possibly take a stroll along the Hudson.

Bear Mountain New York

Bear Mountain New York

Bear Mountain New York

Bear Mountain New York

I have to admit, I’m not really a morning person — although I aspire to be one, lol. As much as I struggle to get up in the mornings, I do love the feeling of being up and having so much of the day ahead of me. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you wake up at the asscrack of dawn. You can scale a fire tower almost two hours away from home, drive up a mountain overlooking the Hudson, and get your groceries done all before noon!

I’ve got quite a few more spots I’d like to check off my list on The Outbound, so stay tuned for more exploring!

Day Trip: Sam’s Point Preserve, New York

A couple of weeks ago some friends and I decided to mark the beginning of autumn with a morning hike around Sam’s Point Preserve, in Cragsmoor, NY (part of Minnewaska State Park).

I’ve been wanting to get out and do more outdoor exploring, but was been unsure where to even start. I’ve recently been using the Outbound Collective app and website and have found a ton of hikes in nearby New York state. Sam’s Point was first on my list! At only an hour and a half away, my friends and I decided it would be the perfect place for an early morning hike, while still leaving us time to get back to NJ to work our Saturday evening shift.

Sam's Point Preserve New York

The weather had been crummy all week but we still decided to chance it, unafraid of braving a little rain. Luckily it was mostly dry, just incredibly foggy. As you know from past posts, a little fog can be pretty fun to photograph so none of us were bothered. Sure, we couldn’t see much of the view from the Sam’s Point lookout area, but it was gorgeous nonetheless!

Sam's Point Preserve New York

Sam's Point Preserve New York

The weather also seemed to deter other hikers from coming out that morning. We had the trails practically to ourselves, save for this well-outfitted group we ran into a few times.

Sam's Point Preserve New York

Sam's Point Preserve New York

Aside from the viewpoint, Sam’s Point Preserve also features a series of ice caves (not made of ice, but formed by it) and Lake Maratanza. Unfortunately due to a wildfire in the spring, the Verkeerder Kill Falls area of the trails is closed due to ongoing maintenance so we were unable to check them out. (You can see the burned trees of the dwarf pitch pine forest in the picture below, although I assume it’s a good sign that there seems to be an abundance of vegetation growing back!)

Sam's Point Preserve New York

Sam's Point Preserve New York

The ice caves were definitely the most challenging aspect of the hike as they sometimes involved rocky terrain and shimmying around narrow corners, but I would still put it low on the difficulty scale.

Sam's Point Preserve Ice Caves New York

Lake Maratanza was a real treat, looking quite eerie with it’s orange-tinted rocks in the fog. And the water was spectacularly clear!

Sam's Point Preserve New York

Sam's Point Preserve New York

Sam's Point Preserve New York

Sam's Point Preserve New York

Sam's Point Preserve New York

Sam's Point Preserve New York

Sam's Point Preserve New York

All-in-all, not a bad deal for being done by 1pm! Before heading back to the thruway we made a pit stop at a diner in Pine Bush, NY for some much-needed post-hike sustenance. (Fact: diner food is the perfect post-hike meal.)