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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Giant Ledge(Catskills)

Hiked Giant Ledge today, an amazing lookout in the Slide Mountain Wilderness of the Central Catskills.  As I arrived at the trail head on Oliveria Road, I was greeted with bright sunny skies and no other cars in the lot.  Knew it was going to be a great day for hiking with temps in the mid to upper 20's and a tolerable wind as well.
 The trail starts at a wooden foot bridge across the road from the parking lot and is very clearly marked.
 Just past the first footbridge is a second footbridge, that carries you over a rock strewn stream.
 The trail ascends nearly 1000 feet over it's course.
 The steeper, rockier sections of trail were tough to negotiate because of a thick layer of ice.
 After a trail junction at roughly .7 miles, you bear left off the yellow trail and follow the blue trail which stays level for quite a distance.
 As you near Giant Ledge, the climb steepens considerably.
 At about 3000 feet in elevation, the trees become mostly snow covered.
 Like a different world once you get above 3000 feet.
 The first lookout is jaw dropping.  You are basically surrounded by beauty.
 Looking north towards Panther Mountain's snow capped summit.
 A phenomenal panorama.

The hulking Burroughs Range looms just to the south.
Continuing past the first ledge and on my way to the next.  The elevation between the four stops, range from 3160 feet to about 3185 feet.
 There are a series of four ledges that offer incredible views, each as awe inspiring as the previous one.
Continuing past each ledge, there are still screened views nearly this entire section of trail.
Blue skies and snow capped peaks abound making this one of the Catskills most popular hiking destinations.
The silence of a winter day, broken only by a gust of wind.  True serenity.  
Walking along the ridge line of Giant Ledge.
A very, very steep and dangerous drop is only a few feet away from the trail.
Weighed down branches hanging over the trail.
The snow and trees really begin to crowd the trail after the fourth lookout.
Walking back in a winter wonderland.
Went a bit past the fourth ledge and turned around at about 1.9 miles.  Hiked a total of 3.8 miles RT on a beautiful winter day in the Central Catskills.

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