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Friday, December 14, 2018

Bozen Kill Preserve(Altamont)

Visited the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy's 214 acre Bozen Kill Preserve, located along Westfall Road just outside the village of Altamont, after work this afternoon.  Although today's warmer temperatures in the upper 30's melted much of yesterday's inch or two of snow, the rushing water of the Bozen Kill still looked icy cold.
Followed the short blue marked trail along the creek, where water's power of erosion was on clear display.
The blue trail quickly bends away from the creek, crossing an open field over to a white blazed trail.  This white trail follows what looks to be some sort of old road.
A small overlook with a plaque provides a look down at the Bozen Kill from the top of a washed out slope.
The trail leaves the old road for a short distance before meeting back up with it at a large rock cairn.
The white trail eventually dead ends at the Bozen Kill, where you get your best chance to get up close and personal with the creek.  This was also formerly the end of the Preserve's trail system.
Near the white trails terminus, I found a new(at least to me) red marked trail which closely follows a small tributary.  I stumbled across the remains of some sort of old, washed out footbridge on the tiny stream.
The trail soon crosses over the tributary, which is a very easy rock hop.
Another neat find along the trail was this old cellar hole, which has been completely filled in over the years.
The red trail continues basically west, with the meandering Bozen Kill on the banks down below.
The creek bending away from the trail to the south.
The red trail basically runs between the low land of the creek and at the foot of a very steep slope to the north.
Further along, a more sheltered section of the trail finds the creek in a much more wintry state.
The red trail comes to a dead end at a picturesque spot on the creek after nearly 2/3 of a mile.
The impressively eroded banks at the end of the trail rise nearly 20 feet above the water.
I retraced my steps back towards the car, enjoying the relative warmth and increasing sunshine along the way.
Hiked about 2.6 miles total at this pretty preserve.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Barkaboom Mountain(Catskills)

Headed out to the western Catskills Tuesday to do a long traverse hike with my buddy Jim.  The game plan was to meet up at the Shavertown Bridge on the Pepacton Reservoir early in the morning.  As luck would have it, the crisp air, morning mist, and rising sun, all came together to make for a gorgeous setting.
From the water's edge, frost covered slopes tower above Shavertown Bridge.
 From the bridge itself, the view across the water was quite striking as well.
As I've stated before in previous visits to the western Catskills, the drive along many of the back roads and byways is in itself a wonderful experience.  This off the beaten path view of the Mill Brook valley nearly took our breath away.
 Mill Brook valley view.
Our main goal for the day was to hike to the summit of 3100 foot Barkaboom Mountain, but with the intent of seeing as much of the long mountain ridge that we could.   Nearly 100% of the mountain is deciduous and we only came across a couple of steep ledges which were easily ascended.
DEC land provides access to many interesting nooks and crannies on this long ridge.  As we gained elevation, the snow depth went from a couple of inches to nearly a foot.
 High up in the cirque below the 3000 foot false summit, we managed to squeeze in a small south facing ledge view over Mountain Lake and Big Pond.
Between the false summit and true summit, we came across a small, but pretty snow covered wetland.
The true summit, at 3100 feet of elevation.  My 99th Hundred Highest peak.  The deeper snow near the summit had tired us out a bit, so we took a couple minutes here to refuel.
Descending the steep, east slopes off the summit, with the low angle December sun already beginning to fade.
 Is that a potential viewpoint....? 
From the steep eastern slopes of Barkaboom, the far western edge of Mill Brook Ridge can be seen rising impressively through the trees.
 From the same vantage point, we enjoyed a SE view towards Cradle Rock Ridge.
 Enjoying the fleeting daylight as we crossed yet another wetland high up on Barkaboom's slopes.
Our final leg of the hike was along picturesque Cross Mountain Road, which we met at a height of land just over 2600 feet.
From the road, Barkaboom's long summit ridge can be seen rising across the deep abyss where dead end Old Edwards Road runs.
We hiked about 7 miles total, with nearly 2000 feet of ascent on a cold, but picturesque mid December day.  99/102 in my Catskill Hundred Highest quest.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Dry Hill(Southern Berkshires)

Headed east after work to do a small hike in the Berkshires at The Trustees of Reservations 206 acre Dry Hill property located in the town of New Marlborough.  The trailhead is located off of Old North Road, a very quiet dead end gravel road.  Starting elevation was quite high, at 1500 feet.
Although the valleys are snow free, there was a thin coating of snow up in these hills.  From the parking lot, a level trail runs NW through open hardwoods, with a very remote feeling.
After about 7/10 of a mile on a foot trail, the trail turns sharply left and begins following Hitchcock Road, an old woods road, that passes through dense patches of mountain laurel.
Less than 2/10 of a mile from the summit, the trail leaves the old road, and for the first time, climbs steeply up.  Within a minute or two, you will clearly begin to see the open area of Dry Hill's summit.
From the 1740 foot summit, there are terrific south facing views from an open rock.
A zoom view of the nearby hills and ridgelines to the south, where a brief snow shower was passing through.
Although the views are nice, a fall from this open ledge would not be as nice.  A sheer drop of about 25 feet could really do some damage, so watch your footing.
After enjoying the summit views, I turned back, enjoying the solitude of these vast woods.  I decided to make it a full loop hike by continuing along the old road, where a rerouted section is marked with rock cairns.
The woods road emerging back at Old North Road,
The last 2/10 of a mile was a quiet walk back to the car, along serene Old North Road.
Hiked about 2.7 miles RT, with just under 300 feet of ascent.
Stopped by to check out the Old Inn on the Green, which dates back to 1760, at the heart of New Marlborough on my way back.  The tranquil area feels as if it is a step back in time to a slower pace of life.
Just across from the Inn, sits the stately Town Meeting House.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Fishkill Ridge(East Hudson Highlands State Park)

At long last, I had a free day with decent weather, so headed south to hike Fishkill Ridge, located in the Hudson Highlands, high above the city of Beacon.  There are several different ways to approach the mountain, but I chose to start from Scenic Hudson's parking lot at the very end of Sunnyside Road in Beacon. The Fishkill Ridge Conservation Area is owned by Scenic Hudson Land Trust, Inc and is located in the far northeast part of the Hudson Highlands, and is managed as an extension of the park. Starting elevation is quite low, a touch below 400 feet.  As I began climbing along the red blazed Overlook Trail, I was quite surprised to see a long lost friend...the sun.
The trail is rugged and steep, on slick fallen leaves, so good footing is a must.  I quickly gained elevation, and a nice through-the-trees view of Lambs Hill tot he south.
A descent brings you to a pretty stream crossing, before another steep climb up Lambs Hill's ridge.
The next section of trail utilizes switchbacks to gain elevation, and after just over 1 mile of hiking, the first open views can be found.  The view is NW and stretches all the way to the Catskills.
A closer look at the Hudson River, with the Shawangunks beyond, and the snow capped Catskills on the far horizon.
The open rock scramble up to the view.
The trail through this part of the hike is quite pleasant, with screened views almost the entire time.
Another sweeping viewpoint of the Hudson River valley to the west-northwest.
A great view of the Newburgh-Beacon bridge carrying traffic along I-84 over the Hudson.
After a brief ascent, the trail finally levels off at just over 1300 feet elevation, passing through abandoned orchards in a large, flat plateau area.
Rock walls line this flat section of the trail
After about 1000 feet of climbing and just before a trail junction, there is one more open vista to the NW to enjoy.
The view SW at the T intersection of the white blazed Fishkill Ridge Trail and the red blazed Overlook trail.  I turned right here, leaving the red trail and starting towards the summit of Lambs Hill.
A relatively uneventful walk east along the ridge soon brings you to one last steep push towards Lamb Hill's summit.
Once atop the large rocky area, the woods drop off around you, and the trail heads up through an open meadow like area.
Ascending towards the summit area, where spectacular views are to be found.
From just below the summit, a look back SW towards North Beacon Mountain(Left-with its radio towers) and Lamb Hill's SW summit knob(R).  A close look provides a glimpse of the Beacon Reservoir just to the left of North Beacon's summit.
Amazing views from an open area, just yards off the summit.
The trail climbs up to the true 1490 foot summit rock, with views just over the tree tops.
I continued along the white blazed trail SE off the summit, soon arriving at another trail intersection, this area known as Dozer Junction(presumably because of the large bulldozer found just yards away from the junction).
I continued on the white blazed trail, where a brief ascent brought me back up to more great views, this time looking directly above at the NE section of Scofield Ridge.
Beyond Scofield Ridge to the SE.
Nearing an open ridge on the far eastern part of Fishkill Ridge.
Continuing north along the ridge, I soon arrived at my favorite spot of the entire day.  A wide open field with incredible views.
Directly below to the NE sits a large quarry and man made body of water.
Looking steeply below to the east at traffic rushing along on Route 9.
There is an array of spectacular vistas to be had from this location.  While not the true summit, this spot is not to be missed.
Looking to the north at Bald Hill's summit ridge.
Beginning my descent, with one last awesome view back to the SE.  Ninham Fire Tower can be seen way off in the distance if you look carefully.
After a small drop, there is one more final, rocky climb up to Bald Hill's summit ridge.
From an open ledge just off the trail is a very nice view SE over Route 9 towards North Highland.
The wooded summit of Bald Hill sits just off the trail.
I found the summit marker for Bald Hill along the trail a bit further along, in an obvious lower location.
I descended north a short distance beyond the summit, soon arriving at a nice view to the north towards the village of Fishkill and into Dutchess county beyond.  Honness Mountain is the small peak hovering directly over I-84 in the center of the picture.
Followed an unmarked trail all the way back to the car, cutting out a lot of mileage on the return, being extremely cautious on the slick fallen leaves.  Hiked about 6 miles total, with 1800 feet of elevation gain.