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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

West Kill Mountain(Catskills)

Took my nephew Holden down to the Catskills to hike 3880 foot West Kill Mountain and a section of the vaunted Devil's Path today.  It was actually kind of cool when we got to the trailhead with temps feeling much more autumn like than the end of July.  Parked at the terminus of Spruceton Road and began hiking the old woods road past the gate.
 The trail closely follows the West Kill along this flat section.  Stone walls line the old road as well.
 After about .9 of a mile you arrive at picturesque Diamond Notch(West Kill) Falls.
 Thought this rock looked really cool just above the falls.
 Looking back upstream from the footbridge at the creek.
 The red marked Devils Path begins immediately after crossing over the bridge.  After following the shoreline of the West Kill for a short distance, the trail begins to climb steadily.
 Much of the trail is rocky and steep, but not overly steep.
 There are a couple of steeper sections with multiple roots and slick rocks from the recent rains.
 Another steeper section.  Most of the climbing was more steady than steep.
 After steady climbing, we finally arrived at a more level section which passed through ferns and boreal forest.
 The scent of balsam fir fills the air.
 Just below 3500 foot elevation is a large cave like area.  We stopped and rested here, catching our breath.
 Continuing on from here, the trail is mostly level walking with a couple of small stretches of up and downs before you finally arrive at a pair of lookouts just below the summit.  Here is a westerly view from a large boulder located just off the main trail.  Spruceton Valley is far below with Rusk and Evergreen Mountain rising above.
 Across the ridgeline to the east is an unbeatable view from Buck Ridge Lookout.  The Blackhead Range can be seen in the distance with Windham also visible.  Hunter and Southwest Hunter are in the foreground.
 This view is one of the best in the Catskills and ranks high on many hikers must see locations.
 Diamond Notch Hollow lies 2300 feet below you from here.  Catskill peaks line the skyline.
 An unbeatable panoramic.
Simply amazing.
Looking directly down over Diamond Notch Hollow with West Kill's southern slopes. 
Looking north above the evergreen treetops.
We lingered at the lookout for about a half hour.  There were a couple other groups at the top as well, enjoying the views.
 Here I am relaxing, soaking in the amazing view.
 The wooded summit is about .15 mile past Buck Ridge Lookout with no views.  The elevation here is 3880 feet, making it the sixth highest peak in the Catskills.  A summit sign used to be located here but is now nowhere to be found.
 Holden looking out from a small crack in the woods near Buck Ridge.
Hiked a total of 6.2 miles RT with a gain of 1730 feet.  Felt great.

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