Karmel Hike and Slice™ on the New York/New Jersey border

Melissa found a quaint, eclectic town to visit – Beacon, New York – not far from home. So after spending a wonderful day and a half touring the town dubbed “Heaven on the Hudson,” we decided to trek down to take in a hike somewhere on the way back home.

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And, truthfully, I have to give credit to a friend and mentor from the New York Commodities Exchange, Andy Sabin, as he had posted a picture of himself on Facebook in front of some beautiful scenery in Harriman State Park that day. So, realizing it was back in the direction toward home, it inspired us to make that our stop.

Harriman State Park, is located not far over the New York/New Jersey border spanning in Rockland and Orange counties. It is said to be the second-largest park in the New York State parks system, “with 31 lakes and reservoirs, 200 miles of hiking trails, two beaches, two public camping areas, a network of group camps, miles of streams and scenic roads, and scores of wildlife species, vistas and vantage points.”

We made our way from Beacon toward the Park, in Harriman, and, admittedly, had a little bit of trouble finding it…as big as it is…because Google Maps took us to a place that was the side of a local road running parallel to I-87, the New York State Thruway. We went through Harriman, Tuxedo, and then we were in Sloatsburg…and finally came upon a sign that indicated that the Park was a left turn away.

That left turn took us down the road and we knew we were close when we saw a long line of cars parked on the side of the road. However, we did get lucky and found a parking space at the Reeves Meadow Visitor Center.

By the way, the address listed is 100 Seven Lakes Drive, Sloatsburg, New York.

Right at the back door of the Visitor Center was the trailhead for the Pine Meadow Trail. As we weren’t truly prepared for doing a hike, it was, after all, a spur of the moment idea, we needed to do something on the easier end. Pine Meadow Trail has a few off-shoots – Red, White, Yellow, Orange, and Blue – and depending on which variation you choose, or combinations of such, will determine your distance and, also degree of difficulty.

Most references indicate that Pine Meadow Trail is “easy,” however, it’s definitely all perspective. It had rained heavily the day before, so that was a concern, as was the fact that there were warnings of a couple of bridges being out and, of course, the good old “bear alert” warnings.

We prefer to do a loop, rather than an out and back so that we get to see different things rather than a “step and repeat” and be bored on the way back out. We had checked in with a Park employee at the Visitor Center who told us that the most common and somewhat easy hike was to the Pine Meadow Lake, about 1.5 miles in on the Red path. But continuing on would be at least four miles which is something we weren’t really prepared for. He also said that the elevation was maybe 100 feet. So it seemed like that would be the way to go.

Red path along the Pine Meadow Trail

Melissa’s idea? “Why don’t we turn this into a Hike and Slice since we can get in the three miles in and out, and get some pizza over the border? It can be a New York/New Jersey edition.”

Sounded like a great idea and off we went. Of course there were the obligatory “Melissa instructions” first – We’re not here to make friends…head down…no petting any dogs.

We headed out on the Red path and began making our way into a very serene and picturesque landscape. It was, in fact, a rather easy path. It was mostly flat earth with some rocky sections, although not that tough. There were some twists and turns where decisions had to be made, but the paths were very clearly marked. The path, for the most part, followed along a stream that had some nice views of cascading water, some parts where you could go right up into the water.

Along the Red path at Harriman State Park

And then there was a part, where a bridge was out, where you HAD to go into the water to continue on. Thankfully we WERE wearing our Merrill waterproof Moab 3 hiking boots. (I just had to get that in.)

The elevation, though, was a bit steeper than we were told, and there was also a section that was a tad narrow that also had some raised root systems, making it a little tenuous for a small stretch.

Harriman State Park Red path with some root systems

Amazingly, considering how many cars were lined up on the side of the roadway, the path was sparsely traveled…there were very few people that we encountered.

We got to the 1.5 mile mark and we realized that the lake was not yet nearby…that we had at least another .6 miles to go. Given that it was the end of the day, and we had a busy day and a half leading up to it, and someone was getting hangry…we decided to head on back in and get some pizza.

When we plan a Hike and Slice, we TRY to choose a pizza establishment that is thought to be popular in the area…something that we tend to see a lot of people raving about, or complaining about. But because we did this ad hoc, we had to scramble to find something within close proximity.

Melissa researched and we decided to go to Uncle Louie’s Pizza and Restaurant in Franklin Lakes, not a very far ride from Harriman State Park. Except for…

…Melissa said, “Why don’t you make a right turn and let’s see why all the cars are parked along the road.”

And so I turned right and it began an odyssey, or tour, of the outskirts of Harriman State Park. It felt like an endless loop and we did come upon a lake, and what appeared to be the entrance to camp grounds. But, for the most part, it was an unlabeled road except for the occasional sign pointing to the Palisades Parkway. Turning back in the other direction wasn’t easy because there really was no place to turn around.

Once we finally got out of the entanglement, and onto Palisades Parkway, we ended up heading back in the direction toward Route 287 where we should have been originally, about 35 minutes that we will never get back.

But we made it to Franklin Lakes and found Uncle Louie’s in a strip mall on Franklin Avenue. We were amazed at how cars came rushing in and out of that lot, with total disregard for possible pedestrians. Then we walked in to what sounded like a huge party…it was so damn loud.

Uncle Louie’s in Franklin Lakes

There were a number of choices of specialty pizza to choose from. There were also many boxes piled up on the tables of the booths when you first walk in, as well as many delivery people sitting around waiting to take orders out.

We were greeted by what seemed like a sense of annoyance, when we said that we weren’t interested in slices, and that we wanted a pie to eat in. We were told to just sit in the very first booth by the door, and had to deal with people coming in and hovering, and using the hand sanitizer right over my left shoulder.

We ordered a large pie, with extra sauce (we are sauce people) like we usually do. When the pie was brought to us, Melissa right away said, “Watch it, it’s hot, and the cheese is going to fall all over.”

A real cheesy pie at Uncle Louie’s

It was, and it did. It was cheesy…and greasy…and obviously if there WAS extra sauce…we couldn’t tell. It was like eating a huge glob of greasy rubber. And it wasn’t even like the cheese had good taste to it. It was bland and…rubbery. And, of course, it was laying in my stomach all night.

The hike was nice, the slice…not so much.

And the only thing we could think of? Where is the nearest Wawa? We need coffee.

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