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Thursday, September 1, 2016

North Point from Winter Clove Inn(Catskills)

Having visited North Mountain from North South Lake several times, I always thought it would be interesting to hike up the east side of the mountain from the valley below.  I decided today would be the day that I would tackle the "Wall of Manitou".  Parked at the beautiful and historic Winter Clove Inn, located in the hamlet of Round Top and was on my way.  Please always remember to check in with the front desk to make sure it is okay.  Elevation at the Inn is 938 feet. 
I crossed over to the back of the Inn, proceeding past the golf course, with a nice view of North Mountain above.
Once beyond the golf course, there is a small dirt road that you can turn onto, just past a red building that says Winter Clove Asparies.
 There are trail directions that can be attained from the front desk, which can be very helpful. It can be very confusing without them.  I turned onto a small trail called "Webster's Pass", and then followed red paint blazes and occasional signage for North Point/ Winter Clove Falls.
 The lower sections of the trail are very rocky and actually follow the path of an old road.
 The ascent is gradual but steady for the first 1.5 miles, gaining about 600 feet.  It is at 1.5 miles, that you reach the trail junction for Winter Clove Falls and North Point.  Keep left for North Point.
 Parts of the trail are very overgrown and can be hard to follow.
 Morning rain left damp underbrush along the overgrown sections.
 The climb becomes steadier and steadier the last 1.5 miles.
 Once above 2700 feet, the trail becomes more strenuous and very steep.
 Because the trail isn't used very often, it is very easily lost through this section.  Just look for the path of least resistance and watch for red blazes or flagging if you can.
 Nearing a giant rock ledge just below 3000 feet.
 From the top of the rock ledge are very fine views of the northern escarpment.
More views from this rock ledge towards Little Stopple Point and the Blackhead Range beyond
Just past the rock ledge, the trail climbs up through thick woods and then emerges into an open field.  You  are now on top of the escarpment.
Continue a short distance further and arrive at a large, open rock area with amazing views.  This spot is one of the most popular and beautiful views in all of the Catskills. Elevation gain from the trailhead to here is about 2,060 feet in 2.75 miles.
A zoom view of North South Lake.
After enjoying the sensational views, look for the blue marked escarpment trail, which heads down towards North Point.  Follow this and pass through a wide open area known as Pocket Ledge. 
 A giant rock, known as Moon Rock sits in the middle of this opening.  From atop this rock, you can enjoy a nice view north towards the Blackhead Range.
 Just over a quarter mile past the first overlook of North South Lake, the blue trail arrives at North Point.  You will know you are there, when you pass the state sign for trail mileage.
 The view from North Point is similar to the earlier view, but north and east views are much broader.  I followed along the edge of the escarpment, where incredible valley views can be found.  Looking directly east towards Catskill, the Hudson River and all the way towards the Taconics.
 Following the edge of the escarpment, heading north.
 North facing views from North Point area. 
 Zoomed views to the east.
 After enjoying the great views, I finally turned back, retracing my steps back to the Winter Clove trail.  Once on the Winter Clove trail, I descended very steeply back down to the car.  Footing was a little tough just below 3000 feet because the descent is nearly vertical in spots.
Round trip mileage for the day was about 6.1 miles.  As with my other hikes here, I did not see another person the entire time on the trails.

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