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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Windham High Peak

Got out of work a bit early and headed down to the Catskills today to grab a 3500+ foot mountain.  Windham High Peak is an extremely imposing mountain as seen from Route 23 heading west through the town of Durham and into East Windham. The popular ski resort by the same name is not actually located on this peak, but a few miles down the road in the town of Windham.  The clouds were holding tough as I arrived at the trailhead but the forecast was for the rain to hold off until the night, so I wasn't too worried.
To get to the actual trail, you must cross busy Route 23 and then walk along a level path through fields, and cross a small(dry as of today) stream on a footbridge.  After a minute or so you arrive at the trail register and then start heading into the woods.  The hike is a total of 6.6 miles RT, with a steady but certainly not steep climb.
Near the start, the trail crosses old stone walls a couple of times.
 A little over a mile up the trail you arrive at a trail junction and the Elm Ridge Lean-To.
A bit further along, the trail enters some very dark spruce forests.
 The trail through this section is tough walking because it is almost all exposed roots such as this.
Continuing along the trail, views south to the Blackhead Range begin to appear.  First, broken views through trees are seen, but as you climb a bit the views really start to open up.
 As I neared the summit, I noticed the sun was doing its best to fight through a thick layer of clouds.
 Windham's summit is 3524 feet, and this sign appeared shortly before the actual summit was reached.
The first views near a ledge to the south, facing the Blackhead Range.
 Another ledge, a minute or so up the trail offers views to the north.
 Endless views.
 The actual summit marker.
The best views, however, are found a short distance past the summit and out onto a rocky ledge facing north and east,
 It is said that on a clear day you can see Albany's skyline some 45 miles away.  Unfortunately, the clouds held tough, but the views were still breathtaking.
 A cabin among a sea of foliage.
 After nearly three and a half miles up the escarpment trail, this served as a great spot to relax for a few.
 Feeling good!
The colors were amazing in some areas as I descended.
 Back at the parking lot, Windham High Peak can be seen a couple of miles away.
Made good time on the return down the mountain, and felt pretty good so stopped by The Siegel-Kline Kill Preserve in Ghent.  It is almost all completely level walking through old farmland and along the banks of the Kline Kill.
 Easy walking.
 That's one HUGE leaf!
 The Kline Kill.
 Crystal clear water.
 Gorgeous colors!
 Busy bee.
A great day.  About 7.5 miles total.  A good night's rest ahead.

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