Getting there and getting around the Catskill Mountain Front

The view from Sunset Rock, painted by Thomas Cole in the 1840s and titled “A View of the Two Lakes and Mountain House, Catskill Mountains, Morning.” Opened in 1824, the Mountain House was one of America’s first resort hotels. Credit: Brooklyn Museum. The view from Sunset Rock, painted by Thomas Cole in the 1840s and titled “A View of the Two Lakes and Mountain House, Catskill Mountains, Morning.” Opened in 1824, the Mountain House was one of America’s first resort hotels. Credit: Brooklyn Museum.
 
We began our journey near fabled Woodstock, N.Y., which is best known for the 1969 outdoor concert that did not actually occur there. Woodstock, the music festival, was held some 100 kilometers away in the village of Bethel. Nonetheless, Woodstock is an interesting town to visit, with a vibrant arts community, and is a good spot to begin your trek. Driving is the easiest way to get to Woodstock from New York City or Albany. The Overlook Mountain trailhead is just a few kilometers from the center of Woodstock. 
 
As the hike described here follows a point-to-point route, a helpful tip, if you happen to have two cars, is to leapfrog them each day; otherwise, at the end of the trip, you’ll need to flag down a ride back to where you began. For our first day, we left one car off Platte Cove Road at the top of Plattekill Clove before returning in the other car to the Overlook Mountain trailhead. On day two, we left one car at North-South Lake Campground. And on the third day, we left a car at the Windham High Peak trailhead on State Route 23, where we finished the trek. 
 
The Overlook Mountain trailhead near Woodstock, N.Y. Credit: Andy Arthur, CC BY 2.0. The Overlook Mountain trailhead near Woodstock, N.Y. Credit: Andy Arthur, CC BY 2.0.
 
There are many trails and trailheads along and near the Escarpment Trail other than those mentioned here, creating an array of options by which to personalize your experience. Some are used and maintained more than others, however, so stay alert to make sure you’re going where you think you are. We recommend picking up a set of maps published by the New York–New Jersey Trail Conference to aid in navigation. Exercise caution when on the trail, as there are many steep and potentially slippery areas (near waterfalls particularly); also, encounters with wildlife — including black bears and venomous timber rattlesnakes and copperheads — do occur occasionally. 
 
Accommodations along most of the Escarpment Trail are limited to campsites and the occasional lean-to, so be sure to pack a tent and the necessary supplies. North-South Lake Campground is quite expansive, with abundant sites. If you spend the night there, be sure to hike up to the Catskill Mountain House site once the night sky is dark for a memorable nighttime view of the Hudson Valley.

Robert and Johanna Titus

Robert and Johanna Titus. Credit: Linda Post.

Robert Titus is a professor of geology at Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y., and Johanna Titus is a professor of biology at Dutchess Community College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. They are celebrating 25 years of writing regular geology columns for Kaatskill Life magazine, the Columbia-Greene Media newspaper chain and the Woodstock Times, and recently published their 800th column. The authors can be contacted at randjtitus@prodigy.net. Join them on their Facebook page at: The Catskill Geologist. The views expressed are their own.

Thursday, June 18, 2015 - 06:00

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