Harriman State Park - Harriman Outdoor Center, Breakneck Pond, Pine Meadow Lake
July 10, 2021
Distance: 8.8 Mi
Elevation Gain: 1,024 Ft
This was now my sixth visit to Harriman State Park and I continue to learn more about this park each time I visit. I met up with group of six friends who rented a weekend cabin at the Stephen & Betsy Corman AMC Harriman Outdoor Center. AMC, in this case, stands for the Appalachian Mountain Club, a non-profit established in 1876 "to protect the mountains, forests, waters, and trails you love in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions".
I had briefly checked out the Harriman Outdoor Center on a hike last fall when I ventured off trail to visit Breakneck Pond. Now I was about to get the full experience of seeing inside the cabins, the dining hall, and the various activities offered. I met the group at their cabin around 10am. I was impressed with how modern and clean the cabin was. There were two bedrooms, each with three beds, and electricity for lights, a microwave, and a refrigerator. As an added bonus, their cabin was overlooking the pond. The night before I mapped out a simple hike from Breakneck Pond to Pine Meadow Lake, with a few options for the return trip depending how the group felt once we got there. The group had a mix of experienced hikers and novice hikers, so I didn't want to push too hard.
We started our hike from the cabins around 10:20a, taking an unblazed trail from the outdoor center up to the Breakneck Mountain trail (white blazes), an ascent of about 120 feet. We made a right onto the Breakneck Mountain trail to follow it west. At approximately the 1.6 mile mark, we merged into the Tuxedo - Mountain Ivy trail (white with red dash blazes) and continued our journey west. These two sections of trail are relatively easy and flat, with only a few small ascents and descents along the way to navigate. A couple people in the group didn't have hiking boots and were able to navigate the trails fine.
Around the 3.4 mile mark, we switched over to the Seven Hills trail (white with blue square blazes). We followed that another 4/10 of a mile to a lookout spot with a view of Lake Sebago in the distance. We decided to stop here for water, lunch, snacks, and to regroup. Resuming our trip, we connected with the Stony Brook trail (yellow blazes). At the 4.5 mile mark, we came across an abandoned concrete structure to our left. We explored around the structure, which appeared to have been an old water treatment plant or some kind of water reservoir. Next to the structure, we also found a small waterfall.
Once done exploring, we turned onto the Pine Meadow trail (white with red square blazes) and made our way down to Pine Meadow Lake. Despite signs prohibiting swimming, there were several people on the other side of the lake swimming and jumping off the rock formations. We stopped for about 20 minutes to break and catch some sun.
At this point, the group decided they wanted to make it back to camp as quickly as possible to eat lunch and get in some water activities before sundown. We chose to take one of the unblazed carriage trails (Pine Meadow Road West) leading east from Pine Meadow Lake. Two in the group jogged the whole way back and the remainder of us took to a fast stride. We followed the road until it met up with the Tuxedo - Mountain Ivy trail, which we took south to meet up with the Breakneck Mountain trail we originally started on, then descended back down to the cabins around 3:45pm.
We attempted to start a campfire to grill some hot dogs, but had trouble getting the fire going initially due to damp tinder from several days of rain during the week and due to the firewood logs being too fresh and new. After enough time had passed, the microwave was used instead. A few of us continued working on the fire and got it started several times, but it eventually fizzled out once the heat couldn't overcome the young firewood that was provided by the outdoor center. We kept at it and after resetting a couple times, including using some of the fire starter materials in my emergency kit (dryer lint, plain cotton balls, and Vaseline-soaked cotton balls), we were eventually able to get the fire hot enough for the firewood to catch and stay lit.
By now it was time for dinner in the dining hall. What a feast that was! I can't even remember all of the food options, but they included: sliced London broil, lettuce salad, pasta salad, grilled skewers, rice and beans, and assorted desserts. We refueled on the all-you-can-eat buffet, then decided it was time to head to the pond.
Using an combination of kayaks and canoes, we paddled around for a good hour or so. Surprisingly, the campfire had retained enough heat to continue going while we were gone and we kept fueling it into the night as we sat around the fire chatting and playing games.
It was great to see some friends I hadn't seen in a while and to learn more about the Harriman Outdoor Center. There are a variety of lodging options, including lean to shelters, cabins, and tent sites. I plan on returning soon!