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Monday, August 17, 2015

Palmer Hill/ Shavertown Ridge/ Tompkins Falls(Western Catskills)

Even with forecasts calling for 90 degrees, I was anxious to get out and get some hiking in today.  I decided to hike a couple of NYC Water Supply Lands today found just outside the Catskill Blue Line.  Palmer Hill Trail was opened just over a year ago in the rural Delaware County Town of Andes.  The DEP and Catskill Mountain Club worked together to complete this trail, which can be found by taking Route 28 west past Margaretville to gravel Finkle Road, which is also marked as a scenic overlook spot.  The trailhead is at the beginning of the road at the overlook.  The views from here are outstanding and provide a commanding look at many of the Western Catskill High Peaks. 
The trail starts just to the right of the Trail sign.
 There are scenic vistas all around as you drop down through wide open fields filled with wildflowers. 
 Another view towards the rolling Catskill peaks.
Barbed wire and stone walls are good indicators that this is former farmland.
 The trail soon leaves the open meadows and drops down a shaded country lane.  The shade was a welcome relief on this day.
You will soon cross peaceful Bryants Brooks, which flows very quietly this time of year. 
 
After .6 miles on the Farmstead Trail, you will arrive at a trail junction.  You may choose the Upper or Lower Meadow Loops.  I decided to start with the more challenging Upper Meadow Loop.  This winds through open fields, before climbing up through a hardwood forest.  Many old stone walls are found throughout these woods.
 Ascending on the red marked Upper Meadow Trail through open hardwoods.
 Once emerging from the woods, a terrific panorama unfolds before you.  This is a view to the west, where the careful observer can actually pick out their car in the distant parking lot.
Descending the wide open trail with hazy sun hot blazing down.
 Looks like it might be a banner year for apples.  These apples are available for hikers to pick if they so choose.
 Thought this wildflower was quite interesting.
 Power lines and fields.
 Broken views through the trees to a nearby farm gave way to a couple of nice, unobstructed scenes.
 Passing below power lines as I finished the Lower Meadow Loop.
After completing the loop I returned to the car via the Farmstead Trail, completing 3.7 miles RT.  

Although a bit hot, I still had a decent amount of time available so I opted to visit the Shavertown Ridge Trail, yet another NYC watershed property near the Pepacton Reservoir.  After leaving Palmer Hill, I continued on Route 28 west through the hamlet of Andes before bearing left onto County Route 1, which drops you several miles south directly to the Reservoir and parking area.  Parking is found at the pull off for the boat launch just before the intersection with Route 30, but the trail actually starts about a tenth of a mile north along County Route 1.
 The trail climbs up fairly steeply for about .3 of a mile on a small foot path before you reach an access road.  Signs indicate to turn right here and follow the road up.
 The road continues its climb as it enters a large open meadow area.
A weather station can be found just off the trail as you climb towards Snake Pond.
After one mile of climbing, the trail levels out and comes to an intersection. 
 I first took the short side trail to the scenic overlook and Snake Pond.
 Snake Pond is a very quiet mountain pond with great views .
 Lily Pads.
 A small loop trail circles the pond and brings you to a nice scenic overlook of the Pepacton Reservoir. 
The Reservoir far below.
 After lingering near the pond and overlook for a little while, I finally went back to the intersection and climbed up the trail towards Perch Lake Mountain. 
The trail passes through a typical Catskill forest and follows the ridge line for quite a distance, but with no scenic views unfortunately.
Before heading back, a small loop is found at the very end of the Shavertown Ridge Trail.  I then retraced my steps back off the ridge and down to the car for a total of 5.3 miles RT.  Total mileage for the day was 9 miles.
Before heading home, I made one last stop at a nearby waterfall.  These falls are relatively unknown and known as Tompkins Falls.  They are found off rural Barkaboom Road along the south side of the Pepacton Reservoir.  The falls can clearly be seen at a bend in the road.  There is a small, unofficial pull off at the top of the hill that provides a closer look.  Be careful scrambling down the steep embankment from the road.  The main falls drop about eight feet and are very attractive, even during low water.
 The falls are actually made up of a small series of cascades that careen down through huge rocks.  Also of note are the remains of an old mill site right above the main falls.
This is a very cool spot, and unknown to many people.  It capped off a near perfect hot summer day.

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