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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

West Kill Mountain(Catskills)

Took my nephew Holden down to the Catskills to hike 3880 foot West Kill Mountain and a section of the vaunted Devil's Path today.  It was actually kind of cool when we got to the trailhead with temps feeling much more autumn like than the end of July.  Parked at the terminus of Spruceton Road and began hiking the old woods road past the gate.
 The trail closely follows the West Kill along this flat section.  Stone walls line the old road as well.
 After about .9 of a mile you arrive at picturesque Diamond Notch(West Kill) Falls.
 Thought this rock looked really cool just above the falls.
 Looking back upstream from the footbridge at the creek.
 The red marked Devils Path begins immediately after crossing over the bridge.  After following the shoreline of the West Kill for a short distance, the trail begins to climb steadily.
 Much of the trail is rocky and steep, but not overly steep.
 There are a couple of steeper sections with multiple roots and slick rocks from the recent rains.
 Another steeper section.  Most of the climbing was more steady than steep.
 After steady climbing, we finally arrived at a more level section which passed through ferns and boreal forest.
 The scent of balsam fir fills the air.
 Just below 3500 foot elevation is a large cave like area.  We stopped and rested here, catching our breath.
 Continuing on from here, the trail is mostly level walking with a couple of small stretches of up and downs before you finally arrive at a pair of lookouts just below the summit.  Here is a westerly view from a large boulder located just off the main trail.  Spruceton Valley is far below with Rusk and Evergreen Mountain rising above.
 Across the ridgeline to the east is an unbeatable view from Buck Ridge Lookout.  The Blackhead Range can be seen in the distance with Windham also visible.  Hunter and Southwest Hunter are in the foreground.
 This view is one of the best in the Catskills and ranks high on many hikers must see locations.
 Diamond Notch Hollow lies 2300 feet below you from here.  Catskill peaks line the skyline.
 An unbeatable panoramic.
Simply amazing.
Looking directly down over Diamond Notch Hollow with West Kill's southern slopes. 
Looking north above the evergreen treetops.
We lingered at the lookout for about a half hour.  There were a couple other groups at the top as well, enjoying the views.
 Here I am relaxing, soaking in the amazing view.
 The wooded summit is about .15 mile past Buck Ridge Lookout with no views.  The elevation here is 3880 feet, making it the sixth highest peak in the Catskills.  A summit sign used to be located here but is now nowhere to be found.
 Holden looking out from a small crack in the woods near Buck Ridge.
Hiked a total of 6.2 miles RT with a gain of 1730 feet.  Felt great.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Black Mountain Loop(Lake George)

Had the day off work so went north to hike Black Mountain on the east shore of Lake George.  Black Mountain, at 2646 feet, is the highest peak rimming the Lake George shoreline.  There are a couple of different ways to the summit, but I chose to come up from Pike Brook Road trailhead on the east side of the mountain.  There were a few cars in the parking lot, but quiet walking to start the hike.  The trail actually follows an emergency access road for the first .7 of a mile to a private residence before entering the woods.
 The trail isn't overly steep but there are some rocky areas where you do climb.
 The ascent gets steeper the closer you get to the summit area.
As you arrive at the summit area, you quickly notice the communication tower.
 The vista from the summit(the rocky ledge just below the true summit) is nothing short of spectacular.  Looking directly down Lake George with numerous peaks surrounding the shoreline.
 The day was pleasantly cool for July with temps in the low 70's and low humidity.
 Soaking in the views on a beautiful summer day.
 A view directly north up Lake George.
 Looking directly east far into Vermont.
 Deer Leap rising directly above Vicars Island and the Harbor Islands below.
 Beautiful panoramic view.
 Looking up at the summit tower.
 The rocky summit rises just above the ledge.
 These views are some of the best in Adirondacks.
 The Tongue Mountain Range can be seen rising to the west of the lake.
 Elephant Mountain is in the foreground with Spruce Mountain and other distant peaks rising to the north.
 Panorama from rocky summit.
 A view to the west coming down Black Mountain towards Black Mountain Point.  The descent passed through wet, overgrown areas, at times quite steeply.
 A great view of the Narrows south from a ledge on a shoulder of the mountain.
 The many, many islands located in the Narrows.  Notice all of the power boats zooming around in the water.
This ledge made a perfect spot to stop, relax and drink some water.
 A nice view to the east from the ledge.
 The Tongue Mountain Range sprawls before you with (L-R) First Peak, French Point Mountain,Fifth Peak)
 After continuing along the trail for a mile, you arrive at a trail junction.  2 miles west is Black Mountain Point.  I followed the loop trail  another .3 mile to Black Mountain Pond.
 Black Mountain Pond Lean To, perched atop a rocky hill.
 Back down at the shoreline of Black Mountain Pond.
 The trail between the Black Mountain Ponds is a bit overgrown in spots. 
 About .45 mile further along the trail is the second of the Black Mountain Ponds, referred to as Round Pond by the DEC.
 There are no substantial views of Round Pond, but there is a nice view across the marshy area towards Black Mountain.
 Lapland Pond from its northern shore.
 Just below the Lean To is a large rock which leads down to the water and provides a nice view of the pond.
 Black Mountain's summit tower is clearly visible in the near distance.
 A westerly view of Lapland Pond just below the Lean To.
 A panoramic view of Lapland Pond.
 A pleasant wooden footbridge crosses a beaver swamp.
 Reflections on the beaver swamp with Black Mountain in the distance.
 A very nice, not overly taxing 6.5 mile RT.

On the return home I stopped by the Orra Phelps Nature Preserve, a small 18 acre P.L.A.N. property located in the town of Wilton off exit 16 of the Northway.
 The Little Snook Kill flows quietly through the preserve.

 There is something very relaxing about a walk along a babbling brook.
 Took back roads home, passing through rural Saratoga, Washington and Rensselaer Counties. A bucolic barn and silo on a back road in Pittstown.
 Pittstown backroads.