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Friday, March 10, 2017

Sunset Rock/ Bash Bish Mountain(South Taconics)

Took advantage of a free afternoon by doing a post work hike Thursday at scenic Taconic State Park, located in Copake Falls just west of the Massachusetts state line.  Another reason I was anxious to get out was because the forecast for the next several days looks pretty cold and potentially stormy.  I parked at the main parking lot for Bash Bish Falls along Route 344 and was pleasantly surprised to only see three other cars in the lot, all on the far side of the lot(for the falls). I crossed Route 344 to the north finding the Cedar Brook Trail, marked with a trail sign.  Elevation to start the hike was 732 feet.
 I would be heading north on the Cedar Brook Trail for 1.1 miles to the South Taconic Trail, which would lead me to Susnet Rock at 1.7 miles.
 The Cedar Brook Trail is very rugged, beginning high above the brook and hemmed in by the steep walls on each side.  As the hike continues to the north, the brook will soon be by your side.
 I really enjoyed the hike along Cedar Brook, with its tiny pools and cascading water.
 The trail crosses the brook five times, meaning that you will need to carefully rock hop across each time to keep your feet dry.  In times of high water, this trail may be impassable.
Crossing over Cedar Brook easily by rock hopping.
 After the last brook crossing, the trail abruptly turns west and begins a very steep climb out of the gorge.
 Once out of the steep gorge, the trail enters a deciduous forest and eventually meets up with the South Taconic Trail, running north-south. I turned right(north) onto the wide STT and soon passed beautiful, old stone walls.
 After a brief level stretch, the trail begins to climb in earnest, up a rocky slope.
Heading uphill toward the crest of the rise.  As the trail nears Sunset Rock, the woods change quite drastically to mountain laurel, scrub oak and pitch pine. 
 You will soon arrive at a large clearing with a spur trail to the left(west), leading to Sunset Rock.  A sign used to mark this turn, but now you must be keep your eyes open for this turn.   Once on the spur trail, the vegetation seems to really in on you, creating a tunnel effect.
 Emerging at Sunset Rock, elevation 1788 feet. 
 The views from atop Sunset Rock are outstanding, making the 1000+ foot climb worth while.
 The Catskills stand prominently some 30 miles away, with the rolling farmland of Columbia County stretched out in the foreground.
 There is another rocky clearing a few yards away, which provides pretty much the same view.  Perhaps this look to the south is improved slightly from the second rock clearing.
 This makes a tremendous spot to stop and soak in the views, but unfortunately a stiff wind kept me from really enjoying my time here. 
After finally turning back, leaving Sunset Rock, I headed back south on the South Taconic Trail, this time bypassing the Cedar Brook Trail.  Continuing on the STT south(blazed in white), the trail soon becomes a wide, old wagon road.  Southeast views towards Bash Bish Gorge are quite impressive, even through the trees.
 More screened views down to south.
 The South Taconic Trail heads steadily downhill, passing through several different forest types and eventually meeting up with a gravel park service road.
 The trail descends down toward the west side of Cedar Brook and back to the parking lot on Route 344 for a 3.8 mile Round Trip hike.  The afternoon shadows were starting to creep in so I paused at the car to consider my options.   After a quick glance at my BNRC South Taconic Trail Map I decided to continue south for another 1+ mile to the Bash Bish Mountain view point.  Dropping down from the parking lot, I followed the white blazes along a park road, which crosses over Bash Bish Brook and leads to a cabin.  Turn sharply right at the cabin, where a sign for Bash Bish Mountain indicates that it is 2 miles ahead.
 The trail begins climbing immediately, very steeply at first.
  A small creek was running fervently beside the trail, as the ascent continues.
 The trail heads south for a distance and levels out for a bit, then turns to the east and climbs even more steeply.
 After about one mile, the steep ascent eases just a bit, nearing the shoulder of the mountain.
 You must be vigilant to notice the spur path that leaves the STT on the left(west)and leads to some pretty incredible views.  Elevation along this viewpoint is just over 1500 feet, meaning you climbed nearly 800 feet in one mile.
 A glimpse southwest into the late afternoon sun, with the south slope of Washburn Mountain.
 The open rock upon this shoulder of the mountain is very inviting and provides some pretty amazing views to the west.  Hard to believe I haven't heard much about this spot, as the views are as good as any I've seen in the Taconic region.
 A zoomed view down to the trail head down along Route 344 far below.
 Looking northwest into rural Columbia County along the rocky spine, which can be fully explored.
 As I wandered the rocky ledges, I was fortunate to spot nearby Cedar Mountain, rising directly to the north.  Looks like there are some pretty impressive rock cliffs way up high, which may provide some nice views.
 With the day growing old I decided against climbing to the top of the mountain, heading back down the steep trail.
 Crossing back on the bridge over Bash Bish Brook.
Arrived back at the car with about a half hour of daylight remaining.  A fun afternoon in the Southern Taconics.  Hiked about 6 miles RT, with 1850 feet elevation gain.


  1. There are good views from the ledges on cedar.

    1. Thanks Grog, I'm going to have to check that out!