Sapphire Trail-Agony Grind

Sapphire Trail-Agony Grind, Sterling Forest (8/17/2013)

We hiked up to Agony Grind way back in early 2008 when we parked at the Elk Pen in Harriman. This time we approached it from the north, taking the Sapphire Trail along its entire extent. We still had to climb the mountain but it was much more gradual than last time when we approached the vista from the south.

We parked in the huge Harriman Railroad station lot on Route 17. The trailhead for the Sapphire trail is across the street, which requires walking up the entrance ramp and crossing a relatively unbusy Route 17. We entered the woods and headed south, climbing the ridge eventually reaching the Appalachian Trail which we took east to the amazing vista at Agony Grind before heading back to the Sapphire Trail and returning north. But instead of taking it all the way back, we took a woods road east and then north, paralleling Route 17 from above (the noise from the NY Thruway was louder than the relatively lightly-used Route 17). This woods road had a few blow-downs that were easily navigated. It also contained the ruins of a concrete bridge over a stream. I assume a mine had been here since there was a huge pile of tailings at one point. The road, interestingly, was of deteriorating asphalt, so the activities that took place along this road had to be more recent than what we usually encounter in the woods.

Total distance hiked today was 5.7 miles in 3 hours and 15 minutes.

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Huge RR parking lot

Wildflowers at trail head

Northern trail head ...

... of Sapphire

We will return on woods road to left

Climbing begins

Gorgeous path through ...


... pines and ferns

First boundary wall

Twisty tree

Rock bridge ...

... through wet area

[Photo by Laura]

More ...

... boundary walls

[Photo by Laura]

Sandy blow-downs

Pine plantation

Refuse from past

Mountain Laurel thicket

Sapphire now follows woods road

More ferns

Signs of struggle

Path mushroom


A very ...

... rocky ascent

Laura below

Blurry female Hooded Warbler

Stream crossing


Lush greens on ridge

Tiny toad

Trail following ridge


Daddy Long Legs

Side view

Trail narrows

End of Sapphire

Climbing on the ...

... Appalachian Trail

AT Mountain Laurel

Careful descent

Then an ascent

First views

View south

NY Thruway below

Surrounding hills of Harriman

Tower in Sterling Forest

[Photo by Laura]


Expansive view ...

... from Agony Grind

Grasshopper camouflaged

What a view!

Heading back ...

... on AT

Green on Sapphire

A messy woods road

Sandy blow-downs along way

Pines on woods road

Gully is home ...

... to frogs

Green on woods road

A bit overgrown in parts

Cascade at ...

... abandoned bridge

Another view of bridge

Through the trees ...

... Route 17

Seems like a rail trail here

Path is asphalt

Blow-down hopping

Back to car

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