Saturday, April 28th was our first group hike. We choose the Popolopen Torne Loop Hike because it was a short hike with a big payoff. Having never done this hike, and being assured by the hike leader it was “easy” except for a short rock scramble, I was maybe not prepared for as much sweating as I ended up doing…or the crawling on all 4’s to navigate the rock scramble. I might have voiced more than one complaint, and I think my companions may have been silently cursing me, but in the end, it all worked out and we were rewarded with the most amazing of views!
So, if you have never done this hike before, and you are like me and only an occasional hiker, be aware this hike, while short, will feel a bit on the hard side. If you are short, take someone tall with you to help pull you up over the rocks at the top, at least if you are doing the full loop in the direction we went. If you come from the back side, there is a rope to help you traverse the steep part. We parked in the hiker’s parking lot, just past Fort Montgomery and walked down the sidewalk towards the fort. We passed the fort and continued walking towards Bear Mountain then crossed the road right before the bridge. Doing this allows you to cross the bridge on the same side you pick up the trail which is a short distance on the right after you have crossed the bridge.
The first part of the trail is lovely, with beautiful views and sounds of the creek you are following. Then, there is a nice bridge you will want to use to cross the creek. It is also a lovely spot to just hang out for a while. After you have crossed the bridge you can prepare yourself to climb. Up the short hill, across some random road, and then up the mountain, and up, and up and then you are at a bunch of giant rocks you have to find your way up and over. It was a bit challenging in parts, but luckily we had a great guide that got us all up and over them. Even my little dog was rock scrambling like a rock star!
Once at the top of the mountain, you are rewarded with the most amazing 360-degree views stretching for miles. There is an interesting rock monument you can enjoy as well as some benches to relax and have a snack on. Once you have come down the other side of the mountain, if you somehow feel that was NOT enough hike for you, there is an additional 1.5-mile loop around a pretty lake you can add on. We did not do this loop at the time, but I definitely want to go back and do it soon on its own.
This was a wonderful hike all in all, and highly recommended. Go prepared with plenty of water and energy to get you up that mountain, the views will make the hard work worth it!