Winter Hike at Harriman State Park, Arden, NY
I haven’t hiked the trail to the Lemon Squeezer for many years. I introduced my sons to this hike this past Sunday in Harriman State Park in upstate New York. While the main objective was the Lemon Squeezer, I wanted to hike a section of the Appalachian Trail with them.
Squeezing through the Lemon Squeezer on the Appalachian Trail in Harriman NY
The Lemon Squeezer is a well-known rock formation feature on the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail goes though a narrow path formed by two giant boulders. The path is about a foot wide and angled about 15 degrees.I don’t know how backpackers get through the Lemon Squeezer with a full pack on their backs, because I had a hard time squeezing through with just my hydration/day pack.
Just pass the Lemon Squeezer that’s a nice wall of rocks that we climbed using both our hands and feet before reaching the top of the Lemon Squeezer.
Rock Scrambling near the Lemon Squeezer in Harriman State Park.
We followed the Appalachian Trail for the whole hike. We re-traced our steps on the way back from the Lemon Squeezer. The trail marker stated that the hike was 1.7 miles one way from the trailhead to the Lemon Squeezer. The round trip was about 3.5 miles and it took us about 4 hours to complete the hike. The first few hundred feet was the toughest because of the steep climb up the side of Green Pond Mountain. After getting over the summit, the trail was gentler switchbacks over boulder fields.
We stopped by Island Pond on our way to lemon Squeezer and on our way back from Lemon Squeezer to rest and to scramble up some of the boulders on the banks of the pond.
Stopping at the edge of Island Pond on the way to the Lemon Squeezer in Harriman State Park.
Overall, the hike was not difficult. There were other kids that were of my sons’ ages – 8 and 12 – on the trail. My sons liked the terrain and there were lots of interesting stuff along the way to distract them from the physical aspect of the hike. However, on our way back, my older son did complaint that his feet were bothering him. My sons and I were wearing sneakers for the hike and I think the rocky trail took a toll on our feet.
The portion of the Appalachian Trail to the lemon Squeezer is rated moderate to strenuous hike. But is very doable for relatively fit preteen kids. Younger kids – six and under may need more frequent rest stops. The trail is rocky but well maintained. A few steep ascends and descends.
There are no services at the trailhead – no water, no outhouses, no garbage cans, … nothing. There were a few hikers with dogs the day we were there. You should watch where you or your children step, especially along the path through the meadow from the parking lot to the trail head. There are also no food services on that stretch of Route 17, once you exit the New York Thruway. Plan for that if you are bringing young children on you next trip to that area.
3.4 miles round trip in fairly open woods. Trail rated moderate to strenuous. Plan for a 4 to 6 hours hike depending on your physical condition and your pace. The trail is strewn with boulders large and small. A sturdy pair of hiking shoes is definitely a big plus.
Lemon Squeezer Trailhead
From the New York State Thruway north take the Sloatsburg exit (Exit 15A). Turn left at the bottom of the ramp onto N.Y. Route 17 north, and continue through the Village of Sloatsburg, Tuxedo and Southfields. About two miles north of Southfields, shortly after passing the Arden Post Office on the right side of the road, turn right onto Arden Valley Road. Cross the bridge over the New York State Thruway, and then make the first right onto a dirt road into the Elk Pen parking lot. There should be a sign: “Hikers’ Trailhead Parking” just before the turn. If you see a large meadow on the right, you have past the parking area.