Hike Reviews

November 22, 2021
Fire tower CLOSED
Hiked up to the tower on 11/21/21 and was very disappointed to find a new, permanent chain link fence and locked gate with a sign "Authorized Personnel Only" I wonder what the plans are for the tower? Will it be re-opened? Still a very interesting and beautiful hike, as always :)
January 02, 2019
day trip with 8 yr old
did this trail new years day 2019, 8 yr old handled 5 mile RT just fine, took total of 4 hrs, which included stop at the ruins, climbing the fire tower, which was open and in good shape, long lunch at the shelter, change of clothes for my son after getting wet in stream crossing, lots of prior rain so stream was running a bit wet. because of the previous rain trail was very muddy, recommend proper boots not sneakers or trail shoes. SBM trail intersects other roads/trails so referred to my map a few times, best to just follow orange blaze all the way to/from, orange SBM trail is well marked can be done in 3 hrs, but recommend stopping for firetower and shelter and make it a 4 hr trip shelter would make for a good overnight trip, if shelter is occupied couple good spots with fire pits nearby to set up a tent,
August 09, 2018
At the top of the fire tower now. No hornets, bees, or any sort of stinging beasts. The boards are also very solid, too. Kudos to whoever is keeping this fire tower in tip top shape.
August 01, 2018
Firetower stairs fixed
The firetower stairs have been fixed and replaced, they are now pretty sturdy. Unfortunately there's a wasp nest up there and going above the third flight gets you swarmed, so bring a beekeeper suit if you want to go up there without being attacked by those flying demons.
June 05, 2017
Did this hike with a 1 year
Did this hike with a 1 year old strapped to my back. We started at the Beaver Pond unmarked/unmaintained trail entrance which was a little difficult to find. It's on the outer loop of Campgrounds CDE and then starts a gentle climb up to the Irish Potato which is the intersection of the Yellow marked trail. Heading North takes you away from the Ruins/JJ mountain/Big Hill Shelter. Heading S is this path. While this path is probably easier than moderate, with a 1 year old on my back, there were some challenging ascents on rock paths. The ruins are a bit boring and would probably benefit from some kind of informational sign. The trail continues past Big Hill but it's a great place to turn around and head back to the campgrounds. Views are mostly obscured by trees. Note: There is a wood road, just before the Fire tower, that can be used to cut through some of the more difficult ascents on the way back to camp. Especially if you're carrying a child.
January 17, 2017
Fire tower is now closed to the public
Daniel Chazin

Thanks for pointing out the deteriorated condition of the fire tower.  As you state, the tower is in a deteriorted condition, and the Park has removed the bottmm flight of steps to discourage people from climbing it.  The description has been modified accordingly.

January 16, 2017
Good hike, but firetower is sketchy
I am not sure if conditions have changed since the last users have commented, but I did this hike and the fire tower has reached sketchy status. The entire bottom flight is missing stairs, so the railings are not attached and the right side is wobbly. Many other flights are missing one or two steps. The views from the top of the tower are great, but I am not sure if it is really worth rising your neck for it. The views from the shelter were nice, but I was too unlucky and the haze was too much. I could just barely make out NYC in the distance, but the camera could not pick it up. For a quick hike, you can do an out and back to the shelter, just following the yellow trails. Finished my hike in about 2 hours and 15 minutes using this method.
July 01, 2016
Absolutely gorgeous hike - great for kids
Went on this beautiful hike with my two older kids (9,11). The weather was perfect, the trails are very well marked and the description is very accurate (thank you Mr. Chazin). I camped with the kids at Beaver Pond Camp on Lake Welch which is very close to the start of the trail as described; I believe you could also start the hike directly from inside the campground following the camping trail (on most maps). I would classify this more on the side of easy vs. moderate but very enojable. At time the trail is really narrow so we made sure to make plenty of noise and used a walking stick to alert any sleepy reptiles. I found the ruins to be the least enjoybale part of the hike so we moved on. We did not go up the fire tower following the advice of many not so much for the hornets issue (none visible) but because the steps did not look that solid to us. From the fire tower you have to look closely to see where the trail continues (opposite from the lake views). All the brooks were dry but still clearly identifiable. I was very surprised to find no one at the leanto! We enjoyed the top of the hill rest and had the view all for ourselves. We did cross a few hikers (a group of Japanese and a father with a small child). 3 hours from start to finish including the rest stop at the top of the hill. The kids loved it and will sure go back.
May 11, 2016
Redard ruins
Park at same place as was described but instead of turning left to go up the gated paved road that leads to the communications tower (and ORAK) go across the street and go to the right up SBM trail. Follow it past the Irish Potato and continue for a bit till you reach a woods road that goes to the right and down to Upper Pound Swamp. Not exactly sure of distance but 2 miles or so may be a good estimate. Go past the swamp which is actually now a shallow lake (very nice place) and continue on woods road uphill a bit till you come to a left turn on another woods road and you will see the Redard ruins. Check out these ruins . They are quite extensive. The views up there are very nice. There is no bushwacking involved at all. Only issue is you have to either head down that woods road you came in prior to turning left to the ruins and go back to Rte 106 then walk along the road 1 1/2 miles back up 106 to where you parked or you can simply back track the way you hiked in originally . .A great alternative way to do this hike is to get a ride from 106 parking lot and leave you car there then get dropped off at Lake Welch Drive. The entrance to the woods road to Upper Pound Swamp and the ruins  is pretty obvious and I use the pdf maps on my Iphone along with hard copy trail maps offered on this site.  Years ago you used to just be able to park a tiny bit up the road from woods road entrance on Lake Welch Drive. Don't have too much info on Redard estate as to what these structures actually were...however if you do go to ORAK I know lots.   About ORAK (Orak Rock Estate, Orak Rock Farm, Buchanan Mansion...all past names) If you head up the way the trail description tells you to get to ORAK, as soon as you make the left turn from paved gated road onto SBM trail pay attention to the swimming pond on the right as you pass. Once you go beyond that you will see a guard house and opposite of that house was the superintendent quarters. If you look closely you can see the superintendent quarters  foundation. Just beyond that on the left is the ruin of a structure which behind it has an old skelton of a green house/hot house  built later on. Opposite of that are two structures which were workers qtrs. You have to envison all of this being cleared out.  Follow the road uphill  a bit and you will see extensive ruins where the main house was on the left. At one time this was the summer home of George Briggs Buchanan.  Walk till you come to a worn and partially over grown driveway circle and that is where the main house was. At the circle look to the right you will see a faded trail that lead to an observation deck area overlooking the Hudson and Haverstraw. Mr Buchanan was originally from Haverstraw but he left home at an early age.  Look closely because the border of the faded trail is lined with rocks. Walk along the trail (short trail) and you will se the ruins of the observation "deck". The views here are wonderful and way back when there were not too many tall trees. 
May 11, 2016
Rose Redard estate
I plan on doing the hike described above and also want to visit the Rose Redard estate. The unmarked trail that leads to the Rose Redard estate, how difficult is it? Is it a somewhat easy bushwack, is it clear or is there a better way to reach it?
September 29, 2015
did this hike with my 12 year old, we spent the night at the leanto , we stopped at the fire tower on the way up and on the way down , Luke was very scarred to go up when we first got there, we hung out for awhile and he finally over came his fear and loved it, wish the hatch was open to go in tower, im sure the floor was not safe so i guess it was best ( I thought of climbimg up any way, i did come to my senses and didn't do it, we hike/camp mid weak to avoid crowds , at the leanto 4 campers showed up 2 dads and there boys which was pretty cool, the 3 boys had a great time , they had tents and we hooked our hammock tent up in the leanto , we did this spring "15" now that fall is here we will try to do at least one more over night, we have done 2 leanto this one and Tom Jones, (which I went to as a boy in early 70's) I thought memories would flood back, they didn't , we will try to hike to and overnight all 9 leanto's , the ruins were nice, the view from tower were nice and the NY skyline was awesome  !
November 10, 2013
No Hornets!
Thankfully the Hornet's nest is gone. The Fire Tower does need some stair replacement. Lot's of people hiking this trail and many campers up at the Shelter. There was at least 20 people when I was there and it was gonna be a cold night so I can only imagine how crowded it must be on a warm Summer night! The Moderate rating is correct, a very enjoyable hike. The trail is well marked and directions are accurate.
September 16, 2013
I hiked this trail on Sep 14th and noticed one nest on the tower.  Thankfully, I was taking the walk up the tower very slowly, and happened to notice the hive before they noticed me.  I thought about running past it quickly, but decided against it.  They didn't bother me at all.   The hike is still amazing, and the view from the Big Shelter is fantastic.  I would still highly recomend the hike to everyone.   Also, at the starting point, if you take S-BM trail north, you can see the Irish Potato (giant potato-shaped rock), and Upper Pound swamp, which is a huge lake.  Be careful climing to the top of the Irish Potato.  There's a make-shift ladder built out of old tree trunks, but it's fun if you're daring!
September 15, 2013
Oh my! I hope you heal fast! That is terrible. I have never seen hornets on the tower and done the loop many times! I'm heading out today and thanks for the warning. Somebody needs to fix this problem fast because I always see young children climbing the tower. Thanks for the heads up!
September 09, 2013
       Just got back from the trail.  There are 2 Hornet nests on the Jackie Jones Fire Tower. I did'nt see them until it was too late. I walked right between them and was swarmed. I was stung several times  as I swatted and climbed up and past. This was a big mistake for now I would have to go back down and through them again. I made it to the top. Actually the top is blocked; you can only reach the floor below the top. The hornets stopped swarming me after about 3 flights of stairs. I rested near the top while I watched the skin around my sting bites begin to puff up into welts (I could'nt see the ones on my face).        After about 5 minutes I summed up the coourage to go back down. I was wearing shorts and short sleeves. I pulled my socks as high as I could and my hat as low as possible then began my desent. I made it down two flights when they attacked like kamakazi pilots. I was swarmed again but even worse. It was as if they were waiting for me. They attacked every part of my body, but they seemed to aim mostly for my eyes, forhead and neck. They were able to sting right through my polyester shirt. They were huge and black. They stayed with me for at least 5 flight of stairs. I speeded my decent by jumping 4 steps at a time. By the way there are several steps missing and some very shaky ones. I believe that I recieved at least 20 stings. My left eye swelled 1/2 shut and my knee cap swelled quite a bit. I shutter to think what would have become of me if I was alergic to bee stings or slipped and fell as I desended. I finnished the hike anyway. It really is a very interesting hike.        Please take my warning and do not assend the Jacky Jones Fire Tower! The Nests need to be destroyed.          
February 21, 2011
Harriman's Hike
Great directions and a enjoyable hike!  I went solo on Feb. 14th.  I should have wore my snow shoes - instead did the hike in hiking boots with Yak Trax. Doable... but the snow shoes would have been more efficient.I extended the trip by 2 miles to visit the reservoir (see map in the images), past the Big Shelter along the Yellow blaze. View my images from this hike:http://www.flickr.com/photos/sph001/sets/72157625981587509/show/