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Sunday, October 22, 2017

Trout House Village Resort(Hague-Lake George Region)

Enjoyed a gorgeous fall weekend at the Trout House Village Resort along the northeast shores of Lake George in the tiny hamlet of Hague for a family wedding. Unfortunately, I forgot my good camera, so had to settle for less than stellar cell phone pics.
The resort was originally built back in the mid 19th century and sits in a picturesque, quiet corner of Lake George that most people pass by on their way to something else.   The resort does offer a private beach and a peaceful dock to soak in the lake views.
 One benefit of staying at the resort is that there are a couple of small hiking trails, which of course I had to take advantage of.  A 1.2 mile round trip brings you up to a beautiful set of ledges that offer broad views of Lake George.  Well worth sneaking away from wedding obligations.
Two thumbs up for this beautiful resort.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Harris Public Conservation Area(Austerlitz)

Visited the 76 acre Harris Public Conservation Area this afternoon, the Columbia Land Conservancy's newest property, which just opened yesterday.  The parking area can be found at the corner of Stonewall and Bloody Hollow Road, just north of Route 203 in the town of Austerlitz.  A blue marked trail begins just past a kiosk and trail maps.
 As always, the CLC has done a terrific job with trail work.  A stone stairway is a classic example of the hard work put in by the Conservancy.
 A perfect fall day for a walk.
 Stone walls lace these woods, which were farmed back in the 19th century
 A fork at the blue and red trails.
A small pond can be found where the blue and yellow trails meet at the southwest edge of the property.
The red trail passes beneath a large area of rock ledges on the east side of the property.
 I was a bit surprised to have these new trails to myself, but took my time, soaking in the serenity of these peaceful woods.
Followed all of the trails in this new area, and while there are no fireworks, these woods make for a perfect, tranquil walk in a quiet corner of Columbia County.  Walked a bit over 2 miles RT.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Van Dyke Preserve & Schiffendecker Farm Preserve(Bethlehem)

After running a bunch of errands all day I finally had a chance to get out on a pleasantly, cool, sunny fall day.  Visited a couple of local Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy properties in the town of Bethlehem.  First stop was the 33 acre Van Dyke Preserve, located off of Van Dyke Road, which is just west of Elm Avenue Town Park.  The trail, marked with red discs, starts off heading west then north, passing above the Phillipin Kill.
 Puncheon crosses a wet area of the trail.
 The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy does a great job maintaining their trails
 A bridge crossing.
 The preserve has 2/3 of a mile of frontage on the Phillipin Kill, offering up plenty of opportunities to absorb the tranquil setting.
 The trail forms a pleasant loop on the west side of the creek.
 Yes, there are woods in suburbia.  The trail passes through forested land and floodplains on former agricultural land.
 A perfect fall day along the Phillipin Kill.
 Arrived back at the car after one mile of hiking at the preserve, and then headed a short distance away to the 40 acre Schiffendecker Farm Preserve, also located in the town of Bethlehem. I parked at the trailhead off of Bender Road(which can only be accessed from the Route 32 Bypass to the west)and dropped down the steep wooden stairway to start the trail.
 The preserve is named for the family that farmed this land back in the 19th century, and even today is an wooded oasis in a sprawling, developed area.
 A small unnamed tributary of the Normans Kill runs through the middle of the preserve and is crossed by a sturdy wooden foot bridge.
 After dropping down into the deep ravine of the stream, the yellow trail climbs uphill to the north, meeting up with a red marked trail.  The red trail forms a quarter mile loop, passing a deep ravine to the north.  Unfortunately, this part of the trail also offers screened views of the back of several big box stores just to the east.
Arrived back at the car after 1.1 miles round trip at this preserve and 2.1 miles total for the day.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Dry Brook Ridge(Catskills)

Headed down to the Western Catskills to hike another Catskill Hundred Highest peak on a dreary, cool and breezy morning.  I originally had planned to hike up from the state access on Ploutz Road, but my car simply couldn't make it up the old, unmaintained portion of the road.  So, I headed over to the Hill Road access, just southeast of Margaretville to hike from there.  Along the way, I did one of my favorite Catskill backroads.
A small pull out on the south side of Hill Road with room for 2-3 cars was my starting point.  The trail to Dry Brook Ridge is on the north side of the road near a trail register.  Elevation at the trailhead was a little under 1900 feet.
The ascent up Hill Road was steady but not overly steep, gaining over 1200 feet in 2.3 miles.  The dreary, overcast conditions made for an eerie hike.
The trail passes directly though a gorgeous stand of Norway Spruce.
Just off the trail a few yards, I spotted an old foundation.  Always fascinating to see these reminders of the past.
Classic Catskill sandstone. 
The foliage is moving along quite quickly, with many leaves already fallen and scattered on the ground.
This sign had me "cracking" up.  Once on the ridge, the trail stayed above 3100 feet the whole time.
A classic Catskill stair step. 
I continued southeast along the ridge, with occasional views through the trees teasing, until I popped out to a wide open ledge. 
The ledge views to the southwest.
Cold Spring Valley below.
Here is a view of the ridge, which stretches just south of the summit.  Some color is still hanging on.
The trail skirts a very steep drop off near the final stretch below the summit.
I bushwhacked a short tenth of a mile off the trail to hit the nondescript true 3460 foot summit. 
I dropped back down to the trail, just below the summit, which provides a spectacular view directly down on the valley of Cold Spring Hollow.
Even on a dreary morning, the views are very, very nice.
I decided to turn back at the second view point, heading back along the ridge.
High up on the ridge, and only a few yards off the trail, I came across this oddity.  A small wetland meadow well over 3100 feet.
Dropping back down the Hill Road trail, with the steep woods above.
Hiked about 8.5 miles RT, with over 1600 feet elevation gain.  73/102 Catskill Hundred Highest.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Blue Hill, Bear Mountain, and Potter Mountain(Eastern Adirondacks)

Met up with my buddy Jim again today for a three peak traverse in the Pharaoh Lakes Wilderness.  We spotted a car at the Short Swing trailhead and then drove back to the Long Swing trailhead(Blue Hill) to get started.  A thick fog made for very eerie conditions.  Elevation at the parking area was about 960 feet.
We began on the Long Swing Trail heading southeast past a couple of marshy areas, still shrouded in fog.
The forecast was for the fog to break and within a few minutes we could already see some brightening.
A short distance in, we left the trail and headed for the steep rocky cliffs on the west side of Blue Hill.  The ground was covered in deadfall and fallen rocks as well as duff, making it a very slow go.
We arrived at the base of a long series of 70 foot rock cliffs, which we flanked to the northeast looking for a way up.
We finally did find a chute to get up through and were above the cliffs.   Once atop the cliffs, we wandered around in search of views.  Peek a boo views provided a glimpse northwest over Cotters Pond with the fog still breaking up.  The foliage looked quite nice on the hillside as well.
Fog breaking up with the Dix Range off in the distance.
We skirted the southwest edge of the peak, just below the summit area, arriving at a wide open area with very good views.  The wetlands of Alder Brook can be seen winding below and the north end of Schroon Lake beyond.
Pharaoh Mountain rising directly to the south.
The open ledges on the southwest side of the peak were much broader than we had imagined and offered up plenty of good views. 
After hitting the wooded summit of 1654 foot Blue Hill, we dropped steeply down off the south side of the peak, being careful to avoid private land.  We picked up the Long Swing Trail again, before bushwhacking east towards the base of Bear Mountain.  From there it was a fun rock scramble up the slopes of the peak.
The open slopes provided views back over Crane Pond and towards Pharaoh Mountain.
As we ascended the views got better and better, with a great view northwest over Pyramid Lake and Blue Hill(which we had just come off of).
A view towards Crane Pond from higher up on the mountain.
The gorgeous, open slopes on Bear Mountain.
We avoided the summit area, which is not on public land, but the east side of the mountain provided some very good views over Tubhill Marsh and Pine Hill.
While bushwhacking off the mountain we picked up an on again/ off again herd path off Bear Mountain down towards the Short Swing Trail.  We stayed on the trail for a short distance up to a height of land, where we left the trail and headed up the slopes of Potter Mountain.  As we got up above 1500 feet, we began to get some good views to the west.
Continuing the ascent, we soon found a large, open area on the southwest side of the peak, which offered up the first of many spectacular views.  The view here is down over Tubhill Marsh in the foreground and Crane Pond beyond.
Another perspective of Bear Mountain(front) and Blue Hill(back), the peaks we had just come off.
The entire eastern escarpment of the mountain is beautiful and mostly open.
Ascending Potter Mountain's eastern escarpment.  This entire stretch was like hiking on a paved sidewalk.
Gaining elevation only improved the already great views.  Here's another southwest look towards Pharaoh Mountain(L) and Crane Pond(R).
Nearing the summit area, which was covered in open rock, white pines, pitch pines and low brushy areas.
Dropping off the northeast end of the escarpment provided the very best views of all, directly over Gooseneck Pond and all the way towards the Green Mountains of Vermont on the horizon. Bear Pond Mountain is the peak rising above the pond.
The summit area on Potter Mountain is only 1854 feet, but you feel as though you are on top of the world up here.  The vista is absolutely breathtaking. 
As we began to drop down the long northeast ridge atop Potter, I paused for one last view with a corner of Eagle Lake far below.
We decided to drop off the northwest side of the mountain, heading down the steep slopes towards Paragon Brook and the Short Trail.  We easily got back to the trail, which lead us out to the spotted car on Route 74. 
A perfect fall day in the woods, with about 8 miles round trip and roughly 2000 feet elevation gain.