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Monday, April 24, 2017

Kinderhook Creek Preserve(East Nassau)

Got out for a short evening hike on a beautiful spring day, just down the road from my house, at the Kinderhook Creek Preserve in East Nassau.  Started along the yellow blazed Stone Wall Trail along the western edge of the property.
 Beautiful stone walls.
 I stuck to the perimeter trails at first, hugging the southern edge of the Preserve along the yellow and red trails before meeting up with the black blazed SAY Trail.  Passing over a high point on the SAY Trail, complete with bench, just before dropping down into the steep gorge of the creek.
 Descended all the way down to the gorgeous Kinderhook Creek.
 Followed fisherman paths along the shoreline, offering up plenty of nice views.
 Fisherman path skirting the Creek.
 After coming to a bend in the creek, I headed back into the woods, regaining the SAY trail and followed it back south beneath some incredible rock cliffs.
 Enormous rock cliffs tower above the trail.
 I kind of zig-zagged my way through the preserve from here, following a brown marked Ridge Bottom Trail north back up to the SAY trail again, then following a red blazed Ridge Top Trail south.  I explored some of the ledges just off trail along the ridge top, finding some screened views of the surrounding hills.
 The late day sun shining beyond the west slopes of the ridge top.
 Finally met back up with the white blazed woods road, following it north all the way back to the car.  Hiked about 2.3 miles total on a mild, spring evening.  As I headed back home, I paused to enjoy the late April sunset that is fast approaching 8pm.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Western Summit Florida Mountain(Berkshires)

One of the most well known landmarks in all of the Berkshires is the famous "hairpin" turn on Route 2 climbing up and out of North Adams, which many people drive by every day.  I, myself, have driven this rod countless times, always admiring the beauty and uniqueness of the steep climb up the Hoosac Range.  I recently discovered that there is a hiking trail that climbs up these steep slopes, starting from North Adams at an elevation of just over 1200 feet, and climbing up to the Western Summit of Florida Mountain, which stand at about 2020 feet. There is a small circular parking area across a mobile home park with trail signage along Route 2.
 The trail itself actually starts just a few yards further up Route 2 beyond a guardrail.
 The trail continues through a muddy section in the woods paralleling Route 2 for a short distance and then turns and begins to climb up through hardwoods.
 Screened views down to Route 2.  Unfortunately the trail is never too far from the sounds of traffic.
Signage is spotty in some areas and really good in others.  I also spotted some older paint blazes on trees from an older, pre-exisiting trail.
 A run off stream area gives an idea to the grade of the climb.
 Nearing the top, I passed under some power lines that run up to the Western Summit.
 The trail is short but steep, climbing almost 800 feet in about .85 miles.  Just as you feel in you are truly in the wilderness, the sounds of rushing traffic and voices at the overlook can be heard.  I suddenly arrived at a viewing platform at the West Summit of Florida Mountain, overlooking North Adams to the west.
 A zoom view down into North Adams.
 A nice rural view just north into Clarksburg.
 The abandoned Wigwam Cabins and gift shop at the Western summit.
 Unfortunately, dark clouds seemed to hover just above the Hoosac Range to the north.
 Descending on an old section of the Old Mohawk Trail back down to the car.  Round Trip mileage is only about 1.7 miles.
 I stopped for a moment at the base of the mountain again looking back to see dark storm clouds directly above the Hoosac Range.
 The hike is steep and short, but nothing too difficult.  I would certainly not recommend this being a hiking destination in itself, but can be a very fun and rewarding short hike.
 Skies really began to clear out on the drive home, making for delightful spring conditions.  I stopped off to enjoy this relaxing spot on the Green River in Williamstown.
 Oblong Road presents a beautifully framed shot of the Greylock Range to the east.
 My ride was finally punctuated by this beautiful spot in Hancock just off of Route 43 on Whitman Road.  Brodie Mountain and its wind towers, rising directly above Starobin Pond.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Negus Mountain(Northern Berkshires)

Some hikes simply don't get the publicity they deserve, and 1778 foot Negus Mountain located in the town of Charlemont in the Northern Berkshires is certainly one of them.  I had seen some open rock on Negus while hiking Todd Mountain last summer and have had it on my radar ever since.  While doing some research on this peak, I discovered that there is a trail that climbs up and over the mountain, but information is very minimal.  So I took it upon myself to explore this rugged peak myself.  Parking is located off of Zoar Road on an unmarked side road just prior to a bridge crossing over the Deerfield River.  There is no trail signage but you continue on foot to the end of the road where you will come to a wooden fence. Just beyond the fence are railroad tracks, which you need to cross.  Once across the tracks you will see trail markers.  Elevation here is about 750 feet.
 The trail is well marked and it begins climbing immediately...and quite steeply.
 This is probably one of, if not the, steepest trails in Western Massachusetts.
 The climbing was actually quite fun and quickly began providing views back down towards Zoar Road behind you.
 A lot of the ascent is on bare rock, which is marked in blue blazes.
 Just when you begin to catch your breath the climbing gets steep again. 
 From an open rock I found a great view of Todd Mountain's twin summits directly to the south.
 A look down towards the Deerfield River and Zoar Road provides a glimpse of just how steep it is.
 Once the trail arrives at an open shoulder, there is a spectacular view of Negus Mountain's rocky south sub summit.
 From the shoulder towards the sub summit is almost entirely open hiking, with fantastic views alla round. 
 Continuing on towards the sub summit, which felt more like High Peaks hiking than a 1778 foot mountain normally would.
 This was a phenomenal hike and much better than expected.
 Great, fun hiking on open rock.
 A view to the east towards Berkshire East ski slopes beyond Todd Mountain's slopes.
 Hiking along the rocky spine.
 A large gravel pit and Deerfield River highlight he view to the west.
 Wide open hiking with raptors soaring on the thermals all around me.
 The Bear Swamp Reservoir can be seen to the northwest.
 Continued along the ridge through open hardwoods towards the true summit bump with a clearing and fire pit.
 A zoom view west into the valley from the clearing near the summit.  Looking closely you can spot the steeple in Florida as well as the Eastern Summit clearing a bit further beyond.
 The true 1778 foot summit of Negus Mountain.  Coincidentally it is fully wooded and is located a short bushwhack off the trail.  I turned back here, retracing my steps back off the mountain.
 From the true summit bump is a nice view back towards the ridge line that I had just hiked to the south.
 The Deerfield River, snaking along to the east.
 Emerging from the wooded sub summit to the open section of hiking again.
 I stopped and grabbed a drink on an open slope, overlooking the valley.  The Deerfield River can be seen directly below, about 900 feet down.
 Incredible open ledges.
 The descent was extremely steep, but quick.  Good footing is essential in many spots.
This hike packed a lot of punch.  I can't say enough good things about it.  About 3.5 miles RT, with a touch over 1100 feet elevation gain.