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The RPH Shelter on the New York Appalachian Trail

RPH Shelter on the Appalachina Trail
RPH Shelter on the Appalachian Trail

While every shelter on the Appalachian Trail has its own unique character, the RPH Shelter in New York State is unlike anything you’ll encounter up and down the trail. This is truly a Hiker Hilton with takeout delivery,  lounge furniture, picnic tables, plaster walls, a clean painted floor, working windows, a nice privy, and even a small library. I had the pleasure of camping here alone, although some company would have been welcome too, back in mid-April when I hiked the New York AT.

The shelter has a funny location. It’s located right off the Taconic Parkway, and looks a little suspicious on the New York/New Jersey Map of the AT due to its proximity to a road. But it’s in remarkably nice condition and obviously well looked after by local maintainers. Those same maintainers, including a trail adopter with the trail name “Elvis Trailsey,” do a really fine job on the surrounding section of trail, which is in pristine condition and a nice hike.

The RPH stands for Ralph’s Peak Hikers Cabin and from what I gather, a 4 walled version of the current cabin had been originally built on the site. One wall was subsequently removed, so that it would match the other shelters on the AT, which by regulation have to have at least one open wall. I can’t remember how I learned this, but that’s the story I remember.

Inside the RPH Shelter, Appalachian trail

When I spent the night there, it was raining, but I remember sitting under the covered porch and munching on peanut butter and honey sandwiches, reading a book I’d found inside. Deer had come out of the forest and were grazing unconcerned in front of me. It was all remarkably civilized and peaceful. I can still see it in my mind.

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  1. The 501 shelter in PA is a four walled fully enclosed shelter. Has a skylight and close enough to a road to be able to order delivery pizza from. Not sure if four walls is actually a requirement.

    I didn't stay at the RPH, but had an afternoon snack there. It is a very unique shelter for sure.

  2. I wonder how they got that by the ATC. No worries. My favorite shelters all have 4 walls – the ones up on the Long Trail, but the RPH was a welcome and surprise! I'm glad my mileage worked out and I got to stay there. How far south is the 501 in PA?

  3. I had the same experience as Blitzo at RPH. It was a nice stop for a snack.

    The 501 shelter probably gets special dispensation since it has caretakers who live about 50 feet away. The caretakers had just moved in when I passed through and were a great couple. They had hiked the AT twice and offered me dinner, which was greatly appreciated. The large octagonal skylight is a big plus. There was a big thunderstorm that night and it provided a great light show. I did not take advantage of the solar shower, it was too early in the season and too cold.

  4. Rev – that link you posted is dead/broken. Care to try again? Sounds like a great shelter.

  5. Mmmmmm – I can still taste the mushroom and extra cheese pizza…..

    “501” lat=40.5131238146, lon=-76.3464042609

  6. Got to 501 early morning, just in time for a solar shower. RPH was ok, but the water was just the wrong color.

  7. RPH is a fantastic and very welcoming shelter to stay at. Responding to the above post of the color of the water, there is a lot of iron in the water in the Kent, NY area. I had done a 4 day hike starting at Rt 22 in Pawling at AT train station to over Bear Mountain Bridge. The water at RPH, filtered, was by far the best tasting water I had on the trail. Travelling South, Fahnstock State Park will give you your own campsite (free of charge) with flushing toilets and warm showers and also a cafe at state park. More South, Graymoor Monestary has an awesome pavilion that you can set up in with electricity, very clean porta potties, running water and cold showers. You can also set up tent on grassy lawn.

  8. Thinking of heading to RPH just for the weekend. How close are the neighbors, and is there a firepit/grill?

  9. I spent the night at Ralph’s back in 1982 before it was rebuilt. I recall someone left a box of donuts and milk inside the door for the sleeping hikers when they awoke. Murrow County Park near Pawling was a great place too. Known for the red hots.

  10. is Graymoor open to section hikers in mid-october to camp at the pavillion and use their (bathroom and other) facilities? Also is the side trail to there clearly marked from the AT? Lastly, which campground in Fahnstock has the toilets. Dennytown road or Canopus lake? Doing a section from 301 to Bear Mtn Inn in mid Oct with friends, and I know the toilets would be appreciated by some of them.

  11. No idea. Buy yourself an AT guide and Research it by phone. Sorry.

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