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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sleepy Hollow Trail to Little Pine Orchard(Catskills)

Got out for a nice, short hike in the Catskills after work under ideal spring conditions. Clear skies and temperatures hovering in the mid 60's were accompanied by a gentle breeze making it perfect for any outdoor activities.  I wanted to hike the Sleepy Hollow Horse Trail in Palenville, which climbs steeply up the banks of the Escarpment from Mountain House Road in Rip Van Winkle Hollow.  You can't actually park at the trail register located at the end of the road due to private property, so you must park along the wide shoulder on the right side of the road before a brown barn.
 After singing in at the trail register located next to the last house on the road, the trail begins to climb immediately.
 The sounds of rushing water serenade you along much of the first mile of the trail.  These are the sounds of Stony Brook, cascading steeply down through the Hollow with multiple falls.  Many of the falls, unfortunately are shielded from view by the trees and steep banks, but there are some nice glimpses as well.  The land surrounding much of the brook is private, so you must stay on the trail and try to see from there.
 The trail is actually an old carriage road which leads all the way up the Escarpment and used to bring passengers to the Catskill Mountain House, a famous resort and hotel dating back to the mid 19th century.
 Crossing "Black Snake Bridge".
 After steadily climbing for almost a mile a sign indicates that this was the site of the Rip Van Winkle House.  All that remains today are some of the foundation walls.
Beautiful cascades dropping down at the house site. 
 Stone walls are all that remain of the Rip Van Winkle House, which burned down in 1919.  This was a popular spot for people to stop and rest on the long trip up to the Catskill Mountain House high atop the Escarpment in the 19th century.
 Cascading waterfalls on Stony Brook.
Looking back at the house site and bridge over the brook.  Again, stone walls can be seen from the original foundation as well as along the brook.  The house and attached shanty actually straddled the brook, hence the stones along the water.
 A rocky section of the horse trail, nearing Little Pine Orchard.
 After a little over 1.5 miles and 850 foot ascent, you will arrive at the Little Pine Orchard Picnic Area, at an elevation of about 1600 feet.  Here, there are substantial views to the east over much of the Hudson Valley.
 A panorama over the Hudson Valley, with views stretching far and wide.
 Zoomed in views all the way down to the valley floor.
 Unfortunately due to the late hour of the day and work in the morning, I had to turn around and begin my descent.  Walking in the steep Escarpment shadows on my way back.
The trail is clearly marked with both red snowmobile markers and yellow Horse Trail markers.
Although only a short 3.2 mile hike RT, this walk packed quite a punch, with a scenic vista, historic remains and beautiful cascades on a gorgeous spring afternoon. 

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