Highlands Trail, Hike #2: Horse Pond Mountain

~4 miles, 5 hours (did it in the snow, not recommended), Challenging

 looks like a bear den

looks like a bear den

Day #2: Serious Highlands beauty and ruggedness kicking your ass. Ascend and descend two mountains: Horse Pond and Harrison. Amazing views of Monksville Reservoir, which is much better than it sounds.

Just a reminder for everyone: this is a through hike. You are not looping back to your car. That means you need to drop your car off at the end, then get a ride to the beginning.

So, you are going to drop your car off next to Lake Riconda. I would love to live there. Quaint homes on a quiet lake. Rowboats and shit. 

Type Lake Riconda Drive, Ringwood into Google Maps and go to the end of the street. You find the trail head there. Don't start hiking yet. Just park your car and call an Uber.

 white trail trailhead at end of Lake Riconda Drive

white trail trailhead at end of Lake Riconda Drive

Your Uber destination is going to be 1334 Greenwood Lake Turnpike, Hewitt. Looks like this:

That's my Uber in the back. Leaving me. Something both invigorating and scary about being dropped off in the middle of nowhere and having to hike to your car to get home. Get your game face on, it's game time. By the way, this place might look familiar. It's where you finished Hike #1.

Head west, go past the house then stay close to the reservoir. This will take you on a trail by some old historical houses and over a little bridge.

 view from the bridge

view from the bridge

Keep going. You'll hit the highlands trail headed south, eventually finding it on the other side of the Greenwood Lake Turnpike.

 on north side of Greenwood Lake Turnpike

on north side of Greenwood Lake Turnpike

 On the south side of Greenwood Lake Turnpike, do it

On the south side of Greenwood Lake Turnpike, do it

Heads up, this is a pretty challenging hike. But worth it.

 highlands trail, up Horse Pond Mountain

highlands trail, up Horse Pond Mountain

 massive boulder (glacial erratic), going up to Horse Pond Mountain

massive boulder (glacial erratic), going up to Horse Pond Mountain

Take out your water bottle and do the following. This is Monksville Reservoir. It holds 7 billion gallons of water.

Again, you'll be doing some 30+ degree incline walks, so make sure you are layered properly and start stripping down layers before you start sweating too much.

When you get to the top, you get this reward:

 living wide, hugging Monksville Reservoir

living wide, hugging Monksville Reservoir

After descending Horse Pond Mountain, you'll be heading east towards Harrison Mountain.

 two trunks smooching in the snow

two trunks smooching in the snow

Climb again, my friend. And smile, your blood is pumping through you. On top of Harrison Mountain, the Highlands trail and white trail are going to split off of from each other. Stay east on the white trail, which will take you back to your car. And a private lake.

 highlands goes left, you go right

highlands goes left, you go right

Descend down the mountain towards your car, but first you'll walk under a massive power line. This is a super confusing section. Take a left and walk around the back of the huge power grid mound. You'll find the white trail back there. I'm sure there is a straighter way to get there, I just don't know what it is. [Author's Note: When I was back through the area, I checked this part again and found that you can indeed go straight over the power line mound]

Check it out below, looks like the second plate to the right came off, so you don't know it's a left turn. I lost 30 mins because of this. The hill to the right goes down to a private road. Do not take it.

 Ridiculously confusing trail blaze at the power line. 

Ridiculously confusing trail blaze at the power line. 

Follow the white trail down and  through the woods and soon enough you'll be at your car.

NY/NJ trail conference maps you'll need for this: 115

 Author's interpretation of trail map

Author's interpretation of trail map