View from Nimham Mountain
The description on the wonderful “Hike the Hudson Valley” site says: “Fire tower, easy stroll, beautiful 360-degree views” and later: “It took us about 30 minutes to reach the top, walking at toddler speed (you could probably do it in 10 or 15 at normal-person speed).” So I thought this would be nice, quick and not too strenuous place to walk the dog. It turned out to be a bit more eventful than I thought.
First the directions were from Poughkeepsie and I didn’t fully understand what that meant. I drove up the Taconic to pick up the directions from Route 52 and followed them from there. After some time things started to look eerily familiar. Didn’t I recognize that church? A one room schoolhouse – how many of those could there be. I’d driven over 45 minutes to end up about 10 minutes from where I’d started. My fault. I should have checked more carefully.
Then I couldn’t find the turnoff to the parking lot and spent some time looking. I turned out that I’d given up to soon. If I’d gone on for about 30 seconds I would have found it.
From the parking lot it turned out that it was not a “10 to 15 at normal person speed” walk. It took my 62 year old body about 45 minutes – all of it uphill. OK, it’s not breakneck ridge, but a 45 minute walk uphill is not a “stroll”. Admittedly it took longer than it should have done. Three quarters of the way up I noticed that my camera, which I carry on my belt, was no longer there. After the initial panic had subsided I backtracked and sure enough after about five minutes there it was – lying in the middle of the trail. This little detour added about 10 minutes to the walk.
The fire tower
On to the spectacular views. They’re certainly there, but only if you’re willing to climb the 90 foot fire tower (the trees growing around the base block the views), apparently the highest in NY state. I had the dog with me and tied him to the bottom of the tower while I went up. He suffers from separation anxiety so I didn’t want to leave him for too long lest he start howling. I only went high enough (about half way) to get the views. I’d like to go back some other time (without the dog) and go all the way to the top.
It really was a very pleasant walk. On the way up you pass a couple of Putnam County’s famous stone chambers. The first one, right next to the parking lot, doesn’t seem too ancient. The stones are held together by mortar. The second one, about five minutes up the road, seems older.
Stone Chamber near the parking lot.
Second Stone Chamber
Interior of Second Chamber