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Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Unnamed Dunham Reservoir Peak(Grafton Lakes State Park-Town of Grafton, Resnsselaer County)

Took advantage of a brief window of free time by visiting an obscure, unnamed 1667 foot peak in the Grafton Lakes State Park.  The sun was shining bright, but there was a crisp bite in the air to remind me that winter is still here(especially on the Rensselaer Plateau) as I parked along the south shore of the Dunham Reservoir(Elevation 1335 feet).  A few feet away from the parking area I enjoyed my first glimpse of the Reservoir, which was completely frozen over-but didn't see any ice fisherman out there.

A short distance up the road, a marked trail meanders along the east shore of the water, but I chose to jump directly into the woods to begin my bushwhack instead.  A short distance in, I crossed over the first of several small streams that flow downhill to the Res.

I headed basically NE, crossing over the trail at one point, but maintaining an easy bushwhack climb through a few inches of snow.  As I gained the main ridge, I caught filtered views down to the Reservoir and the small peak just SW of the water across Dunham Road.

Once up high, it is an easy walk along the spine of the ridge, eventually arriving at the wooded summit, where more screened views can be found to the north.

A small but steep drop brought me down to a clearing just below the top, which provided a neat look back up at the summit.

A straight drop west down the slopes of the peak, eventually brought me down near the waters edge, which I closely followed SW all the way back to the car.  This is a view from a small bay and inlet area, with the late afternoon sun casting long shadows on the ice.

An easy bushwhack brought me back to the car, where I saw a lone ice fisherman heading out onto the water.  Covered a little under 2 miles RT, with 400 feet of ascent.

Map below.   Red P=Parking   Red X=Summit

Friday, January 12, 2024

Unnamed Misery Mountain Summit North Rathbun Hollow(Misery Mountain WMA-Berkshires)

Did a short bushwhack hike high up in a remote hollow on the Berkshires side of the Taconic ridgeline along the NY/ Mass state line on a mild winter day.  Parked at the end of the public section of Rathbun  Road(Elevation 1645 feet) and ascended north into a wide open meadow, passing by Mass Wildlife Management Area signage along the way.  There was only about an inch or two of snow here, which made for easy going.


Heading up through the open meadow afforded nice views back south to the neighboring ridgeline.

I combined some bushwhacking with following a woods road as I made my way up the steep slopes.  This woods road was wide and in very good condition(possibly the remains of some kind of failed development or private home-before being sold to the state?)

Higher up near the ridgeline, I came across some handsome old stone walls.  This spot was actually very near the NY state line.

Once on the ridge, at over 2300 feet, I found some very good screened views down into Gardner Hollow and NE into Williamstown.  Even at this elevation, there was no more than about 4 inches of snow to contend with.

From the state line, I continued an easy climb west for just over 1/3 of a mile up to the 2543 foot wooded high point on the ridge.  Mild temps were actually melting and condensing the snow, making for a little tougher going up high.

From the high spot, I turned back east, retracing my steps down the ridge to a small but obvious little knob along the way. 

This small knob sat at 2385 feet, and afforded more filtered views north into Gardner Hollow.

On my descent off the ridge, I stumbled upon a small man made pond not far off the woods road.

Back down in the meadow near the road, I found another, larger pond which sat near the very edge of state land high up in Rathbun Hollow.

Just prior to my arrival back at the car, I caught a nice view southeast over to Jiminy Peak's nearby ski slopes.

A beautiful winter day in a quiet little corner of the world.  Covered about 2.5 miles RT, with 900 feet of ascent.

Map Below for reference.    Red P=Parking  Red X=Summit












Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Misery Mountain's Unnamed Ridge North of George Allen Hollow(Taconic Ridge State Forest, NY)

In the last few years New York State has acquired and preserved thousands of acres in the Taconic Mountains located along the NY/ Mass state line, meaning many more opportunities for exploration close to home.  A large chunk of that land can be found on both the north and south sides of George Allen Hollow Road, connecting to already protected land to both the Berlin State Forest as well as the Taconic Ridge State Forest.  Parking is not allowed along this one lane gravel road, but there are a few spots that you can get a vehicle off the road.  

I parked at the edge of an expansive meadow(Elevation 1350 feet), right below a State Land sign and headed north through the meadow, with spectacular views up to the snow covered Taconic ridge above. Visible here is Misery Mountain, which is actually a long ridge comprised of about a dozen or so summit bumps.  To the right is the newly acquired ridge line that I hope to visit soon.

Above the meadow, I encountered a barbed wire fence, which unfortunately slowed me down a bit as there was no way around it.  Beyond that, navigation was pretty straightforward through an open hardwood forest.  The first few hundred feet of elevation gain were gradual and fairly easy, with no snow at all until some very scattered areas around 1700 feet.  Once on the nose of the ridge, I was able to catch a peek north down into neighboring Mattison Hollow through the trees.

Heading east up the ridge, with snow now lightly covering most of the ground over 1900 feet.  This is a view back west with the Rensselaer Plateau visible through the bare trees.

2000 feet seemed to be the actual snow line, where everything was covered in a coating of white. 

Somebody made themselves comfortable here....a nice, cozy spot where a deer had bedded down the  night before.

A bit higher up the ridge, I stumbled upon a woods road, which I followed up towards the summit.

Nearing the summit in a wintry wonderland.  It actually was quite nice to finally see some snow, as we have been mostly deprived down in the valleys.

Arriving at the 2410 foot summit, where a woods road continues down the other side to the east.

Just off the summit, I found some decent views to the north, high above Mattison Hollow. 

From the woods road, just off the summit, this filtered view takes in the next ridgeline north as well as the main Taconic ridge to the NE.  The snow covered branches only enhanced the vista.

With more time available I would've loved to have explored further, but I had to turn around at the summit, heading back down towards George Allen Hollow.  I utilized woods roads to aid in my descent.

Back down at the car, I took a moment to cross the road and check out the protected ridge south of the Hollow that I hope to explore soon.

Covered a little over 3 miles total, with 1100 feet of ascent.  

Map Below.  Red P=Parking   Red X=Summit

Friday, December 22, 2023

Stony Clove Ledges on Plateau Mountain(Indian Head Wilderness-Catskills)

After my morning hike up Pine Mountain near the Schoharie Reservoir, I decided to drive a bit further south into the heart of the Catskills to visit an area of ledges located high above Stony Clove Notch on Plateau Mountain's west slopes.  There are actually a series of ledges ranging from about 2300 feet to 3100 feet and are a short but challenging bushwhack off of the Devils Path.  From Notch Lake, the lowest set of ledges are clearly visible across Route 214.

I was surprised to find only two others car parked at Notch Lake when I arrived at the trailhead(Elevation 1990 feet) on a pleasant winter day.  Crossing the road, I picked up the red blazes of the Devils Path and quickly began to gain elevation as I made my way up Plateau's lower slopes.  At about 2300 feet, the trail turns east, but I left the trail and continued north along a steep area of ledge bands.  Within just a few minutes I already had very good screened views down towards Devils Tombstone and I even stumbled upon some rock climbing ropes here.

It has been a fairly mild end of fall and beginning of winter, which usually means lots of ice in the mountains. 

As I made my way up through numerous ledge bands, the terrain became more and more dramatic.  At about 2600 feet, I spotted a rough and tumble area of loose boulders and talus slopes.

I carefully made my way over to the talus slopes and found my first unimpeded view of the day, looking south down Route 214 towards the tiny community of Edgewood.

From the same spot, Hunter Mountain's steep east facing slopes tower directly across Stony Clove Notch.  There are some good views from some off trail ledges over there as well.

As I fought my way up through the steep terrain, the view south grew a little broader by the minute.

I continued a very challenging ascent up through a series of dizzying ledges and cliff bands, which were a bit scary in spots.


A small shelf provide a nearly vertical view down into the Notch.  Scenes like this were quite common on my way up the mountain and I had to struggle to find a chute up in spots.


At about 3100 feet, I turned back south towards the trail, hugging a steep area of ledges.  One spot in particular provided the best vista of all....perhaps one of the best I've seen in the Catskills at all.  A small rock ledge perched high above the valley made it feel like I was on top of the world.  A shoulder of Hunter Mountain sits to the right of Route 214 with Silver Hollow Peak just beyond.

I sat and marveled at this vista for almost a half hour, finding it hard to drag myself away.

From the open ledge, I made my way steeply back down to the marked trail and from there it was an easy trail hike back to the car.   Hiked a tough 3 miles RT with over 1200 feet of elevation gain.  One of the scariest but rewarding bushwhacks I've undertaken in the Catskills.  

Map Below.  Red P=Parking   Red X=Vista   Blue X=Furthest point north on my bushwhack

Pine Mountain(Pine Mountain Unit(DEP)-Catskills)

Headed south to explore 1924 foot Pine Mountain, an obscure peak nuzzled between Route 30 and 23 just east of the hamlet of Grand Gorge.  The mountain sits on NYC watershed land and is really just a small peak with a long, flat plateau on top.  My access point today was from scenic dead end Van Aken Road, where public land is nestled among the rolling pastureland of an active farm. 

I parked on the shoulder of the road(Elevation 1380 feet), just past the public land boundary, where an opening in a barbed wire fence provides the point of entry.  Within just a few moments of climbing through the open pastures, a great view west beyond the working farm opens up.  Grand Gorge sits snug in the valley between Irish Mountain(left) and SE Morseville Range(right), with much smaller Jump Hill down below.  In the distance to the far right is some of part of the rest of the Moresville Range.

Beyond the open pastures, I hit the open woods, where the mountain's namesake pine trees began to take over. 
A steady but uneventful ascent brought me up to an enormous meadow at just over 1800 feet.  The meadow is quite open and flat and seems like a perfect place to spot a deer, which is exactly what I did when I arrived here.
A few yards past the open meadow sits a large vernal pond, which had a light coating of ice on this frosty morning.
I circled around to the western shoulder of Pine Mountain, where I found some impressive, enormous old wolf trees in a clearing.
Continuing east through the open woods, I made my way past a maze of stone walls and woods roads to arrive at the plateau like, pine covered 1924 foot summit.
On the descent, which I kind of zig-zagged my way around, I stumbled upon the remnants of a small, old, long abandoned quarry.
A light coating of snow on the tree branches overlook this stone wall on the steep southern slopes of the mountain.  Stone walls literally dotted nearly every corner of the mountain I hit.
Eventually made my way back down to the open pastures and accompanying great vista into the western Catskills.  By this time of the day, the sun had melted away all of the morning frost and warmed the temps into the mid 30s.

A nice and easy day of meandering around in the woods for a total of 2.8 miles and over 600 feet of ascent.  Map below.  Red P=Parking  Blue X=Summit