It’s a hot summer weekend. The stifling streets of New York City have become wholly unbearable. You find yourself frantically searching for an escape hatch to a quieter, cooler place where you can roam without the crowds. But, where do you go? How do you get there?
Well, actually, you have some interesting options....
Tucked in the mountains of Orange and Rockland counties, Harriman State Park has over 200 miles of trails that are a perfect 'Get Outta Dodge' alternative. But if you’re a New Yorker accustomed to public transportation, chances are you may not have a car to make the hour drive north to Tuxedo, NY. Lucky for you, a train can get you from New York City to Tuxedo, and even luckier, there's now a bus—a big yellow school bus, in fact, that will pick you up at the station and get you up to the park without any hassles.
And where once you had to hike from the station to the park—which limited your access to the more interior trails of the park system—you can now take a shuttle.
Suzy Allman is at the heart of this effort to provide hikers and New York City adventure seekers with access to the interior and harder-to-get-to portions of the park. Teaming up with the Tuxedo Chamber of Commerce and a community group called A Better Tuxedo, Allman has helped launch the shuttle service that will move hikers from the Tuxedo train station to a number of trailheads, parking areas, and beaches that are much harder to access without a car. The effort is privately funded, and it is supplemented with the bus ticket and park map sales. Allman is also optimistic they can find sponsors.
The shuttle service had its inaugural runs over the 4th of July weekend and is expected to continue running on weekends and holidays through the end of October. Their goal is to have the shuttle full by the busy season (October), and they are putting all their efforts towards that.
“There's kind of an ‘Into the Wild’ vibe about a school bus, and something that says ‘community’,” Allman says. "For the community groups backing the trial run, the hope is that the shuttle service and increased visitors to the park will pick up in the coming weeks and put Tuxedo on the map as a thriving outdoor recreation destination."
Hikers and campers can use the bus to get to their starting point and complete more miles of the trails they want to do, rather than hiking for miles just to get to a desired trail or area. The bus drives through the park once a day in the morning dropping off hikers, campers, and swimmers at more than a dozen trailheads, parking areas, and beaches. Hikers can either camp out for the night and catch the morning bus for a return lift to the train station or they can hike back to the train station on their own two feet.
The price to ride the Harriman Shuttle Bus is just $5. "The ride through the park is worth the ticket price alone," Allman said. "The first weekend we saw a black bear." And the scenery is stunning.
More information about the shuttle service and pickup times can be found at My Harriman State Park, a site run by Allman.