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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.


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