Search This Blog

Friday, May 29, 2015

Rand's View(Connecticut)

Drove down to Litchfield County in northwest Connecticut after work this afternoon to hike a scenic section of the Appalachian Trail that leads up over Mt. Prospect to an open meadow known as Rand's View.  This section of the AT can be accessed from either Salisbury to the west or Falls Village to the east along the Housatonic River. I would be starting from Great Falls located in Falls Village, which is actually in the town of Canaan.  Following Route 44 east out of Salisbury, I turned south onto gravel Housatonic River Road and followed it for several miles to the parking lot on the left above Great Falls.  The drive along this quiet road is very nice with pleasant river views.
 From the parking area, the still river water above the falls makes for a pleasant scene.
A striking view of the Housatonic River dropping over the hydro electric dam.
 There are multiple informal paths that lead to several dramatic views of Great Falls.
 After finally tearing myself away from the sensational river views, I followed the white blazes of the Appalachian Trail across Housatonic River Road and into the woods.  A short distance into the hike, you enter a large field that the trail traverses.  Looking back at a nice view to the south before reentering the woods.
 After about 2.1 miles I arrived at the summit of 1475 foot Mt Prospect, where nice long distance views are available.  Unfortunately, the small clearing was somewhat obstructed by foliage.
 After passing Mt Prospect, the trail continues for another half mile until it meets a trail junction with the option to continue on towards Rand's View on the AT or head to the Limestone Spring Shelter.  I veered right and continued on the AT, which drops about 200 yards down through the woods. 
 After emerging from the woods, a very large open meadow unfolds before you.  This is Rand's View.
 This makes the perfect place to stop and relax.  The open views are inspiring.
 The vista before you is very impressive, stretching all the way into the Berkshires of Massachusetts to the north.
 Unfortunately the clouds and humidity were on the increase as I headed back into the woods.  But worst of all, the mosquitoes were numerous and blood thirsty.
 Only saw one other hiker the entire day in the quiet Litchfield woods. 
Finished up in the early evening after completing the 5.2 mile RT hike.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Giant Ledge & Panther Mountain(Catskills)

After a busy holiday weekend it was nice to get out for a nice hike in the Catskills today.  Skies didn't look too promising as we headed out this morning, but the forecast called for mostly dry conditions.  Giant Ledge is one of the most popular trails in the Catskills and 3720 foot Panther Mountain is found just north beyond. We parked at the trailhead at a hairpin turn off of County Route 47(Oliveria Road) about 7.5 miles south off of Route 28.  Luckily there were only three other cars when we arrived so we could enjoy a little solitude in the woods.
 The woods were fairly dark on this mostly overcast day.  Crossed this footbridge over a mostly dried up stream bed.
 Followed yellow blazes for .75 of a mile up to the next trail junction over rocky and at times steep terrain.  Here is a view up one of the rocky climbs.
Wildlife was all around today!  We were lucky enough to catch this chipmunk for a photo.
 Continuing our climb, which is over 725 feet over the .75 miles.
 At the trail junction, you will turn left onto the blue blazed trail.
Over the next .75 miles, you will climb another 410 feet on your way towards Giant Ledge.  This section wasn't quite as bad, but still rocky.
 After 1.5 miles we arrived at the first of five ledges that consist of Giant Ledge.
 The views from here are truly spectacular and arguably the very best in the Catskills.
Taking a rest on a very humid day.
 Kalli enjoying the views and cooling off.  Even on a cloudy day the views are awesome.
 Views to the east are far reaching with many, many Catskill peaks visible.
 The steep west side of nearby Wittenburg.
 Continuing past Giant Ledge(all 5 of them), we dropped down into a saddle on the way towards Panther.  Skies got very dark along this part of the trail and we became worried that we may get a thunderstorm.  Luckily, the breeze picked up offering welcome relief.  From the bottom of the saddle, we climbed about 730 feet in just over one mile.
A short distance before the summit, and at an elevation of about 3300 feet, we came to a large meadow area, which seemed a bit unusual for this elevation.
 A steeper section on the way towards Panther Mountain.
 At about 3450 feet(according to my GPS), we came to the 3500 foot sign.  The trail began to level out a bit from here with only a couple of smaller climbs through a mostly balsam forest.
The views from Panther Mountain's summit are good but certainly not on the same level as Giant Ledge's views. 
 There are a couple of clearings near the 3720 foot summit that offer rewarding vistas.  These are the views from a large rock ledge.
 Came across this Trillium near the summit.
We were lucky enough to stay dry and the sun was shining brightly on a very humid afternoon as we arrived back at the car, after completing the 6.7 mile RT hike.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ashuwillticook Rail Trail(Berkshires)

Amidst a busy holiday weekend, I found enough time to get out for a couple of nice walks along two sections of the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail in Cheshire, Massachusetts today.  There are many different access areas to the trail, but I got started along Farnums Road in Cheshire, which just happens to be my favorite part of the entire trail.
The Rail Trail is one of the true gems of the Berkshires, providing a fantastic view of the Cheshire Reservoir.  Such a tranquil walk.
There were many folks out enjoying the water today.
 A small pond skirts the east side of the trail.
 A shaded section of the trail on a bright sunny day.
 A view to the north by Mallard Cove.
 A bit further along, I spotted these two kayakers soaking up the sun.
 Almost a picture perfect Sunday afternoon.
 After returning to the car, I headed just a bit further north along the rail trail to a quieter section off of Railroad Street in Cheshire.  This part of the trail closely follows the meandering Hoosic River.
 The famous Cheshire Cobbles along the Appalachian Trail can be seen high above to the east.
 The Hoosic River flows north out of the Reservoir for over 76 miles until meeting the Hudson River in New York.  This is a very peaceful part of the river flowing through farm country.
Walked about 3.5 miles total on a fabulous holiday weekend.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

River Road(Schaghticoke)

Went for an interesting walk along the east banks of the Hudson River today on River Road in Schaghticoke.  To find the road, you must follow Route 40 north out of Lansinburgh for about 3 miles and then bear left onto Calhoun Road(Cty Rte 122).  As the road reaches the Hudson River, it forks, and this is where you turn left onto River Road.  This part of the road is gravel and driveable, albeit very quiet.  I followed the road south all the way to the end and parked the car there.
This road continued all the way to Lansingburgh(Pleasantdale) area back in the mid 19th century, but due to severe erosion and continued mudslides of the steep nearby banks, the road proved impossible to upkeep.  Today it is still open to the public as a right of way, but is nothing more than an informal foot path along the river.  
It does make for a very interesting walk with very pretty river views as well as historical context. 
A short distance into the trail walk, I saw the tip of Campbell Island on the river come into view.
 Another informal path heads down to the river to a large beachy area.  Here is a pleasant view of the Hudson to the south.  This made such a peaceful spot, with almost complete solitude-hard to believe you are so close to Lansinburgh.
 Turning to the north and west, I took in this stunning panorama.  Campbell Island is in the middle.
I pressed on just a bit further, but turned around at a muddy stream crossing, where the Cool Kill drops through Thieves Hollow.  Arriving back at the car on the maintained road, I decided to continue my walk from there.  Conditions were nearly perfect.
 Looking directly out over the northern part of Campbell Island.
 There are many nooks and crannies to this part of the Hudson.  Here is a nice view south with Campbell Island to the left and the west banks of the river all the way to the right.
 The steepest part of the road, where the large, eroding clay banks can be seen to the right.
 Lock 1 is the next prominent site, which is found at a large bend in the road.  Access to Lock 1 is from the west shore, near the Waterford/ Halfmoon town line.
Looking across the shores to the Lock One Marina.
 Another great spot to soak in the river views.
 Sun and clouds with a temperature near 70 made it a great day to be out for a leisurely stroll.
 A panorama near Lock One to the south and west.
 Made for a very nice historical walk, but would love to explore the area further south of Thieves Hollow some other time.  There are also many quiet access spots along the road for fishing.  Walked a total of just over 2 miles total on a relaxing Thursday afternoon.