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Friday, October 14, 2016

Roundtop, North Plattekill, South Plattekill(Western Catskills)

Met up with my buddy Jim on a clear, cool fall day in the beautiful northwest Catskills.  Our goal was to do a traverse hike across Roundtop Mountain, North Plattekill Mountain and South Plattekill Mountain. We parked the first car at the height of land along New Kingston Mountain Road and then drove to the very end of Mountain Brook Road in the town of Bovina.  The road becomes rougher and rougher so anyone without a high clearance vehicle must be careful.  We parked the car and got out right next to a beautiful old stone wall, surrounded by a sea of ferns.
From the parking area with an elevation of about 2550 feet, Roundtop's 3060 foot summit was a scant .4 mile away.  We began climbing immediately with great foliage all around us.
Almost immediately, we arrived in a very large meadow with nice views back towards nearby Burnt Hill.
Just past the meadow we re-entered the woods, climbing steadily through an open hardwood forest to summit.  A small rock cairn marked the summit, which was wooded with no views.
After leaving the summit, we dropped off the east side of the mountain down towards the Plattekill Turnpike.  We were lucky to find a couple of small holes in the canopy above, with views towards the east.  Here is a view of the col between North and South Plattekill.
The slopes on the east side of Roundtop are fairly steep, but the woods are so open that the hiking wasn't bad.
Another peek glimpse towards the bulk of North Plattekill.
Taking our time walking along the Turnpike, enjoying the beautiful fall weather.
We cut off some mileage by bushwhacking, then rejoined the Turnpike at about 2900 feet, only to begin our bushwhack again, about .4 of a mile from the summit of North Plattekill.  The climb was slow but steady until we hit a large areas of prickers.  We tried our best to get around them, but they extended quite a distance so we had no choice but to try to force our way through.
Once we got past the briars and prickers, we emerged into a large clearing, which turned out to be a X-C ski trail.  Soon enough, we arrived at the 3340 foot summit.  Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, the mountain doubles as a ski area.
Although man made, the views from the top of the ski slopes are stunning.  Especially with peak or near peak foliage all around.
Looking directly down towards the parking lot nearly 1000 feet below.
We explored the entire summit area and ski slopes and found different variations of spectacular views.  Here is a look down into Meeker Hollow.
Another view down to the ski area parking lot, surrounded by fall colors.
The views extend far and wide towards the Bearpen range, with many distant peaks further beyond.
Meeker Hollow Mountain, sitting in front of us to the east.
We sat and enjoyed lunch as well as the views for quite a while.  The only caveat was a cold northwest wind blowing across the open ski slopes.  After finally tearing ourselves away from the great views, we continued along the ridgeline to the south, passing through gorgeous fall woods. 
After dropping down to about 2600 feet, we continued on for about 1.5 miles, climbing all the way back up to the 3260 foot summit of South Plattekill Mountain.  We really couldn't find much in the way of viewpoints, but the woods were beautiful and mostly open, making for great bushwhacking.  The summit area was large and flat.  We paused here for a few minutes, soaking int he serenity.
Continuing past South Plattekill's summit to the southeast, we were treated to more of the same...beautiful golden woods.
We tried to follow the ridgeline southeast, being careful to stay on a public land.  We did manage to find a peek a boo view through the trees to the northeast.
Descending the ridgeline on a carpet of fallen leaves.
We arrived back at the first car on New Kingston Mountain Road after about 8 miles RT and 2500 feet of elevation gain. 
On the drive back to Jim's car on Brook Mountain Road, we passed through gorgeous Catskill countryside, with colors ablaze.
Enjoying the incredible fall views.
Farm country.
This whole area has become one of, if not my new favorite areas of the Catskills.  I really enjoyed driving these back roads.

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