The Lemon Squeezer on the Appalachian Trail is one of the most fun, short, scenic and technical hikes I’ve ever done. In this post I want to share with you exactly what you need to know before hiking it including the location details, the different options to check it out and so forth.
Quick info on Lemon Squeezer on the Appalachian Trail:
- Name: Lemon Squeezer Appalachian Trail.
- Location: Harriman State Park (in NY state).
- Hiking distance: May be 5 miles in and out.
- Difficulty: Moderate.
- Hike rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
- Recommended hike? Yes! If you love boulders, caves and scenic hikes overall, this hike delivers on all of this and more!
Note: This hike is also referred to as the “Lemon Squeeze”.
Before we get to the details on where to find it, hike it and so forth, there’s a number of misconceptions out there that confuse people about this place so let me get the most common ones out of the way and clarify it for you:
5 commonly asked questions on the Lemon Squeezer hike:
1) What is it? It’s a short but super fun hiking spot on the Appalachian Trail within Harriman State Park. You will pass through boulders, scramble up rocks and overall get an amazing hiking experience.
2) Is Lemon Squeezer the only one of it’s kind? No! There’s actually several hikes called Lemon Squeezer and some are on and off the Appalachian Trail. For example, there is a Lemon Squeezer in Mohonk Preserve on the Labyrinth trail (no association to the AT).
3) What does Lemon Squeezer mean (in regards to hiking)? The term “Lemon Squeezer” is just another word for tight hiking spot or squeeze.
4) What’s the most popular Lemon Squeezer hike out there? When people look up “Lemon Squeezer hike” and/or include the term Appalachian Trail, the specific hike that comes up is the one I’m talking about here which is in Harriman State Park.
5) How do find the Lemon Squeezer hike in Harriman State Park? You have to be on the Appalachian Trail that goes through this park. Here is a Google location (but there is no nearby parking, you have to hike to this spot).
As long as you are on it (the Appalachian Trail in Harriman State Park), you will cross the Lemon Squeeze section. Just as well, you can take other colored trails to reach this section of the park too (that’s how I did it). There are numerous loop, in and out options to do this which I’ll showcase, but I included a map of the Lemon Squeezer area in this park for your reference.
What you’ll see when you reach Lemon Squeezer:
If you’re coming to it from the west side of the park, the entrance into it is between 2 giant boulders. There is a white arrow underneath it indicating the Appalachian Trail continues by going inside.
Once you come out the other side of the boulders, there is a very tight section (the actual Lemon Squeeze) which you can hike through and it’s super fun if you enjoy that kind of stuff.
From there you will have the option to continue the trail upwards and it will go around the upper boulder areas, but you can improvise if you’re interested and do more boulder hopping. This section of the trail is very short (remember that), but it’s very fun.
And if you come to this section of the AT from the eastern end, then you will basically experience everything I just said, but backwards.
How to hike to the Lemon Squeezer on the Appalachian Trail (3 options):
These 3 options are basic ways to do it. Keep in mind there are more options available but you would have to improvise and reach it through other trails. This is just to give you some simple ideas:
1) Easiest option (3-4 miles in and out):
- You will start at the western parking lot I indicated.
- This is a popular parking lot for Appalachian trail hikers.
- When you reach the trailhead, you will have several options (red trail, white trail).
- You will take the white trail (the Appalachian Trail) eastward.
- From there, the Lemon Squeeze is 1.5 miles away.
- There will be moderate hiking and scrambling along the way.
Once you reach the Lemon Squeezer, you will be able to hike through it, and up and once you’re done, you will turn back and backtrack to the same exact parking lot.
This is the easiest option available to explore the Lemon Squeezer on the Appalachian Trail and best for those who are just doing a short day hike and/or just want to see this specific spot and nothing else.
Note: For the best hikes near NYC, this is a great one to try!
2) Moderate option (5-6 mile loop):
- You will start at the same exact parking lot as with option 1.
- You will take the white trail to Lemon Squeezer (1.5 miles).
- There will be a red trail intersection there.
- Once you finish hiking the Lemon Squeezer, backtrack to the red trail.
- Follow the red trail and it will lead you back around to the parking lot.
This particular option adds more variety and makes your exploration here a loop trail which is longer, but at least you get to see more of Harriman State Park (and believe me there is tons to see).
You will also come close to the Boston Mine following this path (southern point of the red trail).
You can also elect to do this trail backwards, start at the red, then work your way up to the white (AT) trail, explore Lemon Squeezer and then take the white trail west to the parking lot.
3) Difficult option (full Appalachian trail in Harriman State Park, 20 miles, point A to B hike):
If you are in great shape the hardest but most scenic option is to do the full Appalachian Trail which will take you not just through the Lemon Squeeze, but also the other scenic spots across Harriman State Park. I’ve personally hiked a number of trails here and to date, I’d say the Appalachian Trail here offers access to the most scenic views and experiences (Lemon Squeezer included).
Here’s how you would do this trail:
- Start at parking lot A or B.
- Have someone drive your car to where you’ll exit out of.
- Hike the entire AT from east to west (or vice versa).
- You will pass through the Lemon Squeezer and many other scenic spots.
Logistically, this is a very clear cut path and it’s marked much more well than most other trails in Harriman State Park, but if you are seeking to do a day hike here, keep in mind that it is 20+ miles and you will want to be in good shape before doing it. Also keep in mind the weather and time of year as when it’s hotter, you’ll have to carry more water.
I would only do this option if you are good at hiking and have done similar length hikes before.
4) Other options? Yep they exist too:
Although I gave you a few simple options, the fact is Harriman State Park has so many trails which intersect through the Appalachian Trail and specifically the region where you’ll find the Lemon Squeezer that you can just make up your own trail.
This is actually how I did it when I first explored this spot and in my case, I had no idea Lemon Squeezer even existed until I came upon it and had to stop because it was and still is my favorite location in the entire park because of it’s beauty and hiking possibilities.