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Friday, October 30, 2015

Esopus Meadows Preserve(Hudson Valley)

Visited 96 acre Esopus Meadows Preserve, which recently reopened in August 2015 with a new pavilion near the trail head.  This park offers 2 miles of woodland trails and stunning Hudson River views.  The park is found on River Road just south of Port Ewen, in the town of Esopus.
You are immediately rewarded with great views of the Hudson River just a few short steps from the parking lot.
In case you were curious how far away you are....
Just past the trail head and kiosk is a small footbridge crosses the Klyne Esopus Kill.
The blue trail starts by following the Hudson's shoreline, affording gorgeous views upriver.
To the right of the trail is a pleasant hardwood forest, aglow in fall foliage right now.
Near a bend in the blue trail, just before Esopus Point, is a break in the trees which provides a great view to the north.
Esopus Meadows Lighthouse standing proudly.  The current lighthouse was built in 1871 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
After following the blue trail for a short distance, a yellow marked trail breaks away to the left(south) and eventually leads to a short(.2 mile) white trail, which drops back down to the Hudson River.  From hereMills Mansion, one of the grand estates from the gilded age can be clearly seen on the far eastern shore.
A great spot to stop and listen to the waves crashing against the shore.
The blue, yellow, and red trails wind though a picturesque hardwood forest.

Stone walls remain in these woods as a reminder of the past.
A vernal pool.
The west side of the yellow and red trails provide pleasant glimpses at the babbling Klyne Esopus Kill.
A short walk off the trail provides a better look at the quiet little creek, which empties into the Hudson just downstream near the parking area.
Hiked 2 miles on a breezy, but pleasant late October afternoon.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Stoppel Point(Catskills)

With the day off work today, I decided to hike up to Stoppel Point by accessing a seldom used trail to a well known area. This trail climbs directly up the escarpment from the end of Storks Nest Road in the town of Cairo.  From Route 23, turn south onto County Route 31(Hearts Content Rd) for 3.7 miles to an intersection where you will bear right onto Maple Lawn Road.  Follow this road for a little over a mile, where you will bear left and then a quick right onto Storks Nest Road.  Follow this road until the very end, where a small parking area is found on the left just before a gate and private residence. A DEC trail sign with distances will be found across the road at a stone fence here. Continue past the gate and across the lawn(please be respectful of the private property) where the trail starts just left of the house.
You will gradually ascend for about .3 of a mile, when you arrive at the trail register and foot bridge over a small stream.
The trail begins to climb steadily from here, following a very old road.  This road was the East Kill Turnpike or old Colgate Carriage Road and was built in 1836 to help farmers transport goods over the mountains.
Yellow trail discs guide the way, but aren't really necessary much of the way because the washed out old road is very easy to follow.
After about .8 of a mile you will enter state land.  The trail before this was on an easement with private property on both sides.
Continuing up the rocky trail, which is covered in leaves. 
The trail climbs continuously for nearly 1300 feet in 1.9 miles
The steep rock walls rising above the trail up the escarpment.  A reliable spring is found at the base of these rocks at about 1.6 miles in.
Filtered views open up to through the trees as you near Dutcher Notch.
Valley views through a break in the trees.
After 1.9 miles you will arrive at Dutcher Notch, a large clearing and four way trail intersection. This is the view south where the blue marked escarpment trail climbs up towards Stoppel Point.
A few steeper areas are climbed on the escarpment trail, where more Hudson valley views can be seen through the trees.
After 1.2 miles on the escarpment trail and 3.1 miles total, you arrive at a gorgeous rock ledge known as Milt's Lookout at an elevation of just over 3100 feet.  This is the view south with the eastern flank of North Mountain stretching into the valley.
The north view over rural Greene County and Albany County, which stretches out as far as the eye can see.
Fall colors are still hanging on way down in the valley, and make for a beautiful scene.
Cairo Round Top can be seen directly below.  The ledge here is extremely steep, so please use care.
Looking directly south at Stoppel Point, the next stop on the escarpment.
One last shot of the grand view from Milt's Lookout before continuing on my way.
A strange tree growth along the escarpment.
Climbing a steep section just below Stoppel Point.
Near Stoppel Point's large, flat summit area are the remains of an old plane crash from May of 1983, where the pilot died.
The broken wing.
The pilot had a revoked student pilot's license and did not file a flight plan on his intended trip from Poughkeepsie to Watertown.  Much of the plane remains to this day and certainly adds a different dimension to this hike.
Just past the plane crash at a small lookout is a fantastic north view of the Blackhead Range.
The trail kind of circles the summit area before arriving at 3420 foot Stoppel Point. 
A small rock ledge provides outstanding views over much of the Hudson Valley.  Little Stoppel Point is seen directly below.
The view north.
After enjoying the sweeping views from Stoppel Point, I turned back and started retracing my steps.  About 50 yards away from the east facing rock ledge views, I saw a small view through the trees to the south and west.  I had to leave the trail to attain this view.
Continuing on my way back along the summit area of Stoppel Point, where autumn is well past at this elevation.
Descending the steep, rocky trail from Dtucher Notch in the shadow of the mountain. 
Hiked about 8.2 miles RT on another nice day.  Completed the hike in about 4 hours, slowing down to take pictures and explore.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Peekamoose Mountain & Table Mountain(Catskills)

Headed down into the Catskills this morning to hike 3843 foot Peekamoose Mountain and its northern neighbor 3847 foot Table Mountain on what was forecast to be a beautiful day.  Arrived at the trail head located along Peekamoose Road at about 9:30am with only one other car in the lot.  The parking area is located in a deep valley where shadows hang tight as seen in this first photo.
A blue marked trail begins to climb immediately after leaving the parking lot and follows a woods road for the first .75 mile before turning right onto a foot trail.  By the time you have climbed the first .1 of a mile you are already out of the shadows. 
I was treated to a sun filled hardwood forest where the fresh air and sounds of song birds made it the perfect place to be.
Fancy woodwork where a fallen tree blocked the trail.
The trail ascends gradually until about 1.5 miles when it begins to climb a bit more steeply.
After a stiff climb you will arrive at Reconnoiter Rock at about 2.2 miles.  This large rock appears to be precariously balancing atop two larger boulders.  This makes a nice spot to take a quick breather.
The trail continues to climb, at times gradually and others steeply for the next .6 of a mile until you arrive at the 3500 foot elevation sign.
Just a few feet past the 3500 foot sign is an unmarked path that leads to a ledge providing great easterly views.  Notice the deep cuts made by the brooks and creeks.
Back on the main trail, after a small ascent you will arrive at a ledge and rewarded with even better views in the same east direction.  Here is a panorama from the (L-R)northeast to southeast.
The next nearly half mile follows a long flat section of trail with stunted trees and very little elevation gain or loss.
Soon a steep climb leads to a very short informal path and yet another view.
Ledge views.
Continuing on about .1 of a mile and within only about 50 feet from the summit, another unmarked foot path leaves to the right.  This path was only recently cut(2009?) and provides easily the best views of the day.  Ashokan High Point clearly to the east.
Ashokan Reservoir to the northeast.
Panning out to get a broader view to the north and east.
A great panorama!  This is the perfect spot to relax and soak in the views.
The large boulder marking the summit of 3843 foot Peekamoose Mountain, the 11th highest peak in the Catskills.
There is no view from the actual summit, but this spot is significant because it means you have completed the highest highest elevation gain in all the Catskills.  From the trail head to the summit is a 2643 ascent.
Continuing past the summit, the trail soon drops steadily to a saddle between Peekamoose and Table Mountain.   Here is a view of the trail in the col.
A flat section of trail is then followed by a climb back up to Table Mountain's long, flat summit area.  It may be hard to tell you are at the summit, but a large rock cairn will mark the high point at 3847 feet.  This section of trail is much cooler as it travels through a dense conifer forest.
Continuing on another .1 of a mile past the true summit and after a small descent, you will arrive at a fork in the trail(marked by a small rock cairn).  Turn left here and follow the path to a small rock ledge with tremendous views to the west.
 The rock ledge is very small and the drop is very steep so use caution.  But the panorama over the East Branch Neversink Valley is beautiful.
 I love this picture because if you look carefully, you can see that the south facing slopes are still full of color, while the north facing slopes are nearly completely absent of color.
Turned around after the ledge view and continued past Table's summit and back down to the col.  From there the steep ascent back up Peekamoose is basically the last climb of the day.
Really enjoyed the hike back off the mountain.  Only saw a handful of other people out on this perfect fall day.  Everyone seemed to be in such a good mood, and happy to just be out and about.
Another view of Reconnoiter Rock from below.
Fall may be fleeting at the higher elevations, but is alive and well in the lower elevations that receive plenty of sunshine.
Looking back up at a large rock ledge as I continued the descent.
A perfect bluebird fall day.
After arriving back at the car, I headed directly across the road to an added bonus, the Rondout Creek.  There are plenty of chances to explore the creek here, including a large swimming hole in the summer time.
A view further upstream on the Rondout.  This part of the creek is much, much different than the more well known section further downstream.  The creek runs for 63 miles before emptying into the Rondout Reservoir and eventually the Hudson River at Kingston.
Hiked a touch over 9.2 miles RT on what could easily be the best day of the autumn season.  Hard to be days like this.