Winter Hike in Harriman State Park, Claudius Smith’s Den Loop

Updated: Feb 8

Distance from NYC: 43.5 (~1 hour)

When to visit: Winter, but open all year

Why go: Challenging hike, rock squeeze, summit views, and not crowded


Growing up, I spent a lot of time in the Adirondacks with my family. If you're not familiar with this area, it is in New York State's northern region.


Growing up surrounded by the high peak mountain range, I never gave my local area a chance to truly explore. Now spending more time locally than in the ADK, I started to see my area differently. I live in Northern NJ on the New York border, and there are so many different mountains or state parks within a two-hour drive.



Harriman State Park is something I've overlooked for years. Recently I've been drawn to the park more since it is about a 20-minute drive. All Trails helped me find Claudius Smith's Den trail. That loop is about 5.9 miles, according to All Trails. Seeing it was just under a 30-minute drive, the was a perfect start to a winter morning.


Location: Harriman State Park, Tuxedo Park, New York

Distance: 5.9 miles loop

Elevation gain: 1,250 feet

Difficulty: 🍍 🍍

Pass/permit: No

Dogs: Yes, leashed

Road access: East Village Road, Trailhead


When there is a decent drive to a trailhead, it's discouraging when the trail is just okay. One thing my friends point out to me, no matter the view, I'm always in awe of a lookout. It's a combination of seeing God's creation in its glory and the accomplishment of making it to this point to see the view.


If you're looking for a winter hike, put this trail on your list. You get a great challenge, fun views, and icicle views for days. I went at the end of December 2020. If you have the holiday time off, the perfect trail to add.


Where to Park


Now, getting to the trailhead can be confusing. My All Trails brought me to the Tuxedo Park Train Station. You cannot park here for over two hours, and you need a permit. DO NOT PARK HERE!


Drive over the train tracks to the parking lot on the left. There is a sign labeling this as a state park parking lot as DEC Parking Lot. This parking is before the bridge to go under Route 87 on the left.

I didn't know this, so I drove the road, which thankfully is only a few hundred feet to a dead end where I looped around to the parking lot. Seeing the trailhead, I knew we had a short distance to walk from the parking lot.

At the parking lot, I met up with fellow travel blogger Brown Eyes Flower Child. Check out her latest adventures here! She's a boutique travel blogger that shares daily inspiration and globe-trotting FOMO.


Neither of us had done the trail, so we went in blind. Don't make the error I did by missing the parking lot and driving the road. However, it is a short drive. You will pass the trailhead. From the parking lot, the telephone polls have white trail makers with a red dot. Be mindful that outside of the designated parking lot, there are no parking signs for anyone, not a resident.


How To Navigate The Trail


Before going on any hike, I've gotten into the habit of studying a physical map. It's important to know the route's direction, and any splits in the trail. All Trails is a great resource to read recent comments for the trail. Two days before we completed the trail, a fellow hiker recommends making the trail counterclockwise.



When you get to the trailhead, follow the trail for Kakiat Trail.


Kakiat Trail

The trail was icy going in this direction. I'm glad we started going up the ice than going down. There were long patches of ice compared to the route leaving. It was easier to find footing and complete the trail.

After completing the first section, which is straight elevation, there is a small elevation gain to a level path that brings you along with this beautiful scramble to your left. This section reminded me of walk Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park.


This will bring you up a rocky area that makes this trail more moderate than others. Be mindful of your footing here. Keeping enjoying these rocky views because it will be an on and off elevation gain. Which will bring you to an open scenic view. It was pretty windy when I completed this trail. If you're planning to sit here a while if a windy day might not be ideal.

Shortly after this section, there will be an elevation gain and a split in the trail. Here take the White trail marker with a blue dot. This is now the Blue Disc Trail. If you encounter other hikers in Harriman, they may be Harrmaniacs. They know all the trail names! They will talk in trail names.


Blue Disc Trail


This is the longest stretch for one trail marker. Remember, there are three different trail markers to follow during this trail.


In this section, I went during the winter, so many spots will surprise you! Rocks with frozen water coming down them. You will see icicles and gorgeous views.


From there, you get to hit an excellent lemon squeeze. You get to walk along rock and cut through the rock opening. This space was not too narrow. Granted, I am 5'2", so if you're taller, you might disagree.

The trail has sections where it's pretty rocky. There is the trail the connects where it's a white marker with two red lines. This is not the next trail split off. I got confused if this was the split. We encountered some Harrmaiacs that directed us to keep on Blue Disc Trail.



Keeping trekking on from here. There are more rocky sections till approaching a frozen lake. This is a beautiful spot to stay for some photos. Mind your feet for ice.

The lake feeds a waterfall that is therapeutic to listen to and see. After the lake, the trail splits, and you should come to the white marker with a red dot that crosses the waterfall.


Tuxedo-Mtn Ivy and Ramapo-Dunderberg

The trail has a great start, with the waterfall to the right. I will say be careful of ice on the trail! I missed a step cause there were leaves blocking ice, and I full on fell down. Not a bad fall! But be mindful that the leaves will block ice on the trail.


From here, the excitement tappers, and you'll be ready to take the trail down to the trailhead. The loop out leaves you with views of trees and trail that heads out back to the trailhead. Here is where I wished I brought my trekking poles. I forgot them in the car, though!


Most Harriman hikes have elevation gain and decrease to repeat. It is also rocky soil. If you don't have trekking poles, I recommend you be mindful of your knees going back to the trailhead!


Overall Trail View:

This trail surprised me. It was more of a challenge than I thought. That was me underestimating the trail by it being part of the Harriman State Park. I had no idea there would be a waterfall, frozen lake, or rock squeeze. Short and sweet!

This is a great local hike. If you're in the area or want a different hike to try from New York City, add this to your list.



Facts & Attractions of Harriman State Park:

  • Harriman is located in New York in

  • Albany is the capital of New York

  • American currency is in American dollars and cents

  • 200 miles of hiking trails

  • Known for hiking and cycling

Want to save these hikes? Save these pins to not forget!


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Copyright  © 2020 by Rebecca Noelle