St. John's in the Wilderness
For some time I've been interesting in doing a hike starting at the Harriman chuch named St. John's in the Wilderness. The church has an interesting, and sad, history. It was built by Margaret Zimmerman in memory of her husband John who died on their honeymoon in Palestine by choking on a pomegranate seed! This morning we headed to the church, visiting the grounds and cemetery and then doing a lollipop that I invented yesterday incorporating parts of a hike from the book 10 Hikes in Harriman Park and More but with additional mileage on, what else, woods roads!

We started by heading east on the church road and turning right on a lovely unblazed laurel-lined path heading south. In little time this path joined the Long Path which we took south to a camp road which headed south to campsite at the northern bank of Breakneck Pond. Continuing to follow the description in the book, we found an unmaintained trail on the side of cabin 218 on the NW part of the lake. We climbed this steep, icy path south to the Breakneck Mountain trail, turning left. Within five minutes we turned right on the Suffern-Bear Mountain trail and took that south to the Third Reservoir but instead of turning left at this point (as indicated in the book), we continued south climbing Ladentown mountain and then making a left on Woodtown Road on the other side of the mountain. We took this beautiful icy woods road NE all the way to the Second Reservoir where we crossed the earthen dam and then found the Second Reservoir trail near the northern bank. We made a right on that woods road and took it north to the Long Path. We made a left on the LP, took it past the Big Hill shelter and then all the way back to the laurel path near the church.

This last leg of the LP passed through a rather eerie area, if you know the story. There's a small open area encountered after passing some huge boulders. One expects such open areas at power line cuts or the rights of way of telephone lines. No such right of way is here, however. The area is still relatively open and ungrown because of what happened here on December 1, 1974. Northwest Airlines flight 6231, a Boeing 727, had taken off from JFK airport at 7:14 PM. The plane was empty, except for three crewmen. It was heading to Buffalo, NY to pick up the Baltimore Colts football team. Soon after reaching an altitude of 20,000 feet it went into a spin and crashed right in this open area. There were no survivors. Based on how the tops of the trees had been sheared off, police said the plane came in at a 45-degree nosedive. The strong odor of gasoline is what led them to the wreckage.

Total distance hiked today was 5.8 miles, in 3.5 hours.

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St. John's

A Conklin grave

Cross overlooking cemetery

[Photo by Laura]

Church in beautiful morning sun

The bell tower

We parked across the street

The laurel-lined path


Dense Mountain Laurel thicket

Bridge over Pond Brook

Swamp west

Brook east

Tall pines ...

... dwarf Laura

A snowy Old Turnpike

Abandoned camp soccer field

Camp basketball court

Road to camp

Camp buildings

Northern tip of Breakneck Pond

Breakneck Pond

Breakneck Pond through trees


Cabin 218

At unmaintained trailhead

It climbs steeply

And it was icy in spots

Near intersection with Breakneck Mt. trail

Heading down to Third Reservoir

Third Reservoir


SW tip of Third Reservoir

Climbing the S-BM on Ladentown Mtn.

The summit of Ladentown Mtn.

Partial views NE

View east

Glacial erratic

Now ascending Ladentown Mtn.

An icy Woodtown Road

Looking west

Looking east [photo by Laura]

Tiny critter tracks

Frozen swamp off road

Road parallels a creek

Natural ice sculptures

Boundary wall lining road

More icy on way ...

... to Second Reservoir

Warning signs

Second Reservoir looking west

Partly frozen


Dam wheel

On earthen dam

Rusty abandoned pipes

NE tip of Second Reservoir

Looking south

We lunched here in May of '09

Uphill on Second Reservoir road

Also lined with laurel

Now on LP

Big Hill shelter on LP

View south

Big Hill shelter

Snowy LP heading back

Boulder field

Clearing, site of ...

... Boeing 727 crash

Huge tree roots

Swamp at Pond Brook

Bridge of Pond Brook

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