Search This Blog

Friday, July 18, 2014

Hunter Mountain and Diamond Notch Falls(Catskills)

Drove south today to climb Hunter Mountain, the second highest peak in the Catskills.  At 4,040 feet and a fire tower at the top, it is one of the most popular hikes with some of the best views in the entire park.  There are several different trails that lead to Hunter's summit.  I elected to take the Becker Hollow Trail, the shortest but steepest trail to the summit with a climb of 2220 feet from the trail head in only 2.05 miles.

The trail begins as it passes between the columns of a stone archway at the entrance to the old Becker property.
The trail starts off mostly level along the banks of Becker Hollow Brook amongst hardwoods.
If you look carefully in the woods along this stretch you can see remains from abandoned buildings and cellar holes as well as stone walls.
The trail begins to climb steadily uphill as it turns away from the brook.
The climb gets steeper and steeper as you climb up the mountain.
A typical rocky stretch of steep slopes on the trail.
Wild berries along the trail.
After about 1.8 miles there are some nice views far down between the trees.  Views would be even better once the leaves are off the trees.
The climb continues up a rocky ascent.
A trail junction for the true summit and a spur to the fire tower.
A view back from the trail junction just over the treetops.
The final push up to the summit continues its tough, steep climb through a mix of hardwoods and evergreens.
A view back towards many of the Catskill's northeastern peaks through a clearing.
A clearing where an observation tower and lean to once stood marks the end of the Becker Hollow Trail.
A .35 mile stretch of flat walking through spruce along Hunter's summit leads to the tower. 
The fire tower and cabin atop Hunter.
The views from Hunter's fire tower are nothing short of outstanding.  This summit is such a great place to take in the views because it is in the heart of the Catskills.
Looking directly down from the tower.
Views over thick spruce forest.
An incredible view out over the evergreens to the east on the steps of the fire tower.
The sprawling view to the south and east is breathtaking.
Looking north to Hunter Ski Area's upper slopes.
Northeast views to the Blackhead Range.
The cab at the top of the fire tower was locked, but views just below are still amazing.
A view west over a sea of balsam trees over the Spruceton Valley.
Steeply descending the steps of the tower.
Clearing skies and distant views to the northwest.
Distant and awe inspiring views.
Exceptional panoramic views.
Some of the most incredible views in the Catskills.
A north view with the cabin and trail junctions below amongst the spruce.
Spruceton Valley sprawling below with West Kill to the south and Rusk Mountain to the north.
After relaxing at the summit for about 45 minutes, I climbed steadily back down over 2000 feet into Becker Hollow.  Picturesque Becker Hollow Brook flowing near the trail.
A beautiful summer day as the trail winds through a hardwood forest in Becker Hollow.
A nice, sturdy footbridge over the brook.
Finished a challenging, but nice 4.8 mile RT hike up and down Hunter Mountain and still felt pretty good.  Headed around to the southwest side of Hunter Mountain and the Spruceton Valley to finish the day up with a pleasant walk to Diamond Notch Falls.  The trail follows the banks of the West Kill for about .8 of a mile.
The trail is level and follows an old woods road.
There are several smaller, pretty cascades downstream from the falls as well.
After .8 of a mile a small foot path leaves the trail and descends to the base of Diamond Notch Falls(aka West Kill Falls)
Two ten foot drops and large pool make for an incredible spot to linger.
Incredibly clear water in the pool below the falls.
Diamond Notch Falls and its beautiful small pool below.

A great day in the Catskills!  Hiked a total of 6.4 miles for the day.

No comments:

Post a Comment