I love losing myself in Harriman State Park in Orange and Rockland Counties, New York, but I hate getting lost. Over 200 miles of winding hiking trails (including 16 miles of the Appalachian Trial) lie within its 46,000 acres, and Harriman is infamous for leading hikers astray — unless they’ve brought The Maps.
The New York – New Jersey Trail Conference has been making the definitive hiking trail maps of Harriman State Park for years. Unrivaled for detail and accuracy, the two-map set — one for the northern section of Harriman State Park, and one for the southern section — is an essential piece of trail gear for both the casual day hiker and the overnighter. Made of tough, durable spunbonded olefin, the Harriman State Park maps are also nearly indestructible; they won’t fall apart after endless creasing, folding and cramming into a backpack.
But sometimes, even with the best map, it’s possible to get lost.
As a frequent hiker on the Appalachian Trail and Harriman State Park, I have on many occasions run into hikers who were on the right trail, but didn’t know where their next turn was. Or how far from the parking lot they were. Or whether they were going in the right direction.
Even with the Trail Conference maps, they still couldn’t pinpoint their location on the trail.
But, as of last year, you can use your iPhone and a simple app to download the Trail Conference maps. Then, in the same way your car GPS tells you where you are on the road, the Trail Conference maps (within the Avenza app) will tell you precisely where you are on the Harriman Park trails.
- From the App store of your iPhone or Ipad, enter Avenza Pdf Maps in the search bar, and download the free app.
- Click on the shopping cart (Store) button at the bottom of the screen.
- From within the app, use the “store” button to navigate to where you’ll select your map.
- Enter the term “Harriman State Park” (or any other location where you’d like to search for a trail map) into the search bar.
- Purchase the map (the Harriman set is currently $5.99).
- Once it’s loaded, you can use the arrow in the bottom left-hand corner to show you exactly where you are on the trail map (though you’ll need to be physically present in the area the map covers).
The digital maps cost considerably less than the traditional maps, but keep in mind that you should never leave your “hard copy” trail map at home, even with your iPhone. A paper map will never fall and break, or fail after getting wet, or lose battery power; it’s really lightweight and tear-proof.
On the other hand, you can use the built-in app tools to measure your trail, to see how far you are from a destination, to plot your photos on the map. The app also has a built-in compass (though, again: you should rely on more than a digital compass for navigation).