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Backpacking The Eastern Escarpment Trail

North Mountain Lookout #2 on the Eastern Escarpment Trail

Overview of this Hike:

Distance: The Escarpment Trail is 24.28 miles long - Hiking Distance is 26.08 miles (including camp sites, water runs, and view points). See Notes.
Time: 3 days
DAY #1: 9.21 hiking miles - 1,815' gain from Windham parking lot (1,710' to 3,525')
DAY #2: 8.32 hiking miles - 1,276' gain from Batavia Lean-to (2,679' to 3,955')
DAY #3: 8.55 hiking miles - 799' loss from North Mtn (3,159' to 2,360')
Best Time to Hike: Spring, Summer, or Fall
Difficulty: Mostly Easy with a few difficult sections
Peak Elevation: 3,955' (Blackhead Summit)
Permits: Not required, except if your hiking group is larger then 10 people OR you camp at the same campsite for more then 3 consecutive days.
Parking Cost: Free
Park Access: Free
DEC Trail Map: Blackhead - Stoppel Point - North-South Lake
Other Maps: Nat Geo #755 - NYNJTC Map #141
Digital Mapper: Topo Terrain Satellite
Attractions: A significant number of great views all three days of hiking.
Attractions: Good conifer forest to walk through.
Attractions: Flat hiking on high mountain ridges for a couple of miles with great view points.
Attractions: Considered the best backpack in the Catskill Mountains.
Attractions: Most of the hike is on flat dirt trails with a few rocky sections.
Unattractions: Lack of water in the summer months that can be a significant problem for the unprepared.
Unattractions: A lot of Garter Snakes on the summit of Windham High Peak in September/October.
Unattractions: Yellow Jacket bees are common on Windham High Peak in August/September.
Common Animals: Garter snakes, birds, butterflies, and Barred Owls in the winter.
Risky Animals: Copperheads (Very low), Bears (low), Bees (High), Deer Ticks (Low),
Access Methods: Foot and Snowshoeing.



Notes about this Hike

WATER - IS most significant issue for this hike. The availability of water can be a very big problem if there is a drought. In most cases, you will have to hike/camp for 24 hours between water sources. In dry summers, some of the water sources can dry up, leaving hikers in a very difficult situation. You should always plan on hiking with a full day of water when you reach each water source. Below we discuss issues at each water source:

Beginning of Hike: The creek at the very beginning of the hike rarely dries up. If it does, I would buy water in Windham. You will not be able obtain water again until the end of the 1st days hike (9 miles later). If you are going to camp at the Windham Lean-to on the evening before the first day, then you will need enough water for that evening and the entire first day of hiking.

Batavia Kill Lean-to There is a stream next to the Batavia Kill Lean-to. If the stream next to the Batavia Kill Lean-to is dry, you can hike down the trail until you start to see water. The Batavia Kill creek never drys up. You will need to obtain enough water for half of the second day of hiking. If there is a drought, then I would start the second days hike with a full days supply of water. There are several other water sources at Dutcher's Notch. But, some of them are not reliable.

Dutcher's Notch When you get to Dutcher's Notch, you will need to leave the Escarpment Trail to resupply yourself with enough water for the next 24 hours. Going LEFT is the closest water source. It is about 1/4 mile off the trail (one-way). It is also the most unreliable in a drought. It does dry up if it is very dry in the summer. 90% of the time, you can get water from this water source. If this source is dry, you will then have to hike further down the trail, and then bushwhack to the Countryman Kill Creek. In this case, you hike will turn into a 3-4 mile diversion to obtain water. You will also descend a significant amount of elevation. If you are worried about water source, you can turn RIGHT at Dutcher's Notch, and hike the 3/4 mile to the stream. Taking a right will change your 1/2 mile diversion for water into a 1-1/2 diversion for water. Going right is has a very gradual decline in elevation. Very easy hiking. There is also an unofficial camp site that is 150+ feet off the trail at this water source. This stream can also dry up, but rarely does. There is also a waterfall with a pool a short distance upstream. If you cannot obtain water at the stream crossing, hike a little further down the trail until the stream has water. In the very worst case, Capra Lake always has water. To get to Capra Lake you have to bushwhack where the trail turns 90 degrees to the right. There is always a place to get water at Dutcher's Notch. The question is how far you will have to hike to obtain it. I don't know anyone that has had to hike to Capra Lake to get water. Whatever you do, do NOT leave Dutcher's Notch without resupplying yourself with water. You will not be able to get water again until you reach North lake the following day.

North Lake has the most reliable water source. You can get water from the lake or from the campground water sources at the buildings. But, beware that if the campground is closed, then you HAVE to get water from the lake.

Lake Creek / Kaaterskill Falls has a reliable water source. Lake Creek has only dried up once in 200 years. But, by the time you reach this point, you are very close to the end of the hike.

CAMPING isn't a big issue for this hike. But, there are a few issues that you should be aware of. You cannot camp above 3500' in the Spring, Summer, or Fall. You cannot camp within 150' of a water source, trail, or road. EVEN if it is next to a Lean-to. The Windham Lean-to does have an official camp site in the back of the Lean-to. You cannot camp within the boundary of North-South Campground. The boundary region is quite large. Once you drop off North Point, you will start to see White signs with green lettering that denote the boundary. The DEC patrols the Escarpment Trail in this boundary every day. Often 4-5 AM in the morning. They know where to look. That is why it is best to camp on the rim of North Mountain at the end of the second day.

There are a few rules for Lean-to's. You MUST share the lean-to with others. There are NO reservations for the lean-to's. It is first-come first-serve.

FIRES You cannot have a fire within 150' of a trail. Except where allowed (fire rings by the Lean-to is okay). You cannot have any fires between April 15 and May 15 of each year. This is when most forest fires occur in the Catskill Mountains. Additionally, it is generally windy during this time period. Around May 15th, the leaves come out, and trap the moisture under the canopy of leaves. You cannot cut down live trees. You can only collect fire wood from the forest floor or from dead trees. Make sure you put out the fire completely before leaving camp.

TRANSPORTATION This hike requires TWO cars. But, you can do it with one car. You can use one of the local taxi services. The taxi ride is expensive (around $75-100). There is cell service at the end of the hike. See the links at the bottom of the page for taxi options.

WINTER months cause different issues. You cannot hike the southern part of the Escarpment in the Winter months (with snow or ice on the ground). The trail is cut into a sloping bank with the trail right on the edge of the ledge. It is too dangerous. But, the dangerous section is the last two miles of the hike. You can detour around this section.

WEATHER can be an issue in rare situations. Hurricanes can come up the coast in late summer and early fall months. When hurricanes hit the Catskill Mountains, the Eastern Escarpment seems to get the brunt of the wind. There are sections of the Eastern Escarpment that have had the trees ripped out. Other wind events have also happen on the Eastern Escarpment that you should be aware of. When the Catskill Mountains get a NorEaster and the jet stream dips down, the summit of Blackhead Mountain can get winds well over 100mph. Hikers have died due to the winds going much higher then expected. It doesn't happen very often, but when it does, you need to leave the Escarpment Trail. The Escarpment Trail is not safe when the winds go over 40 mph. Take the safest exit point or turn around.

PARKING You can end your hike at Laurel House Road or Scutt Road in North-South Lake region. Laurel House Road is the preferred parking lot. Parking at Laurel House Road will shorten the hike by 1/2 mile and allow you to see Kaaterskill Falls (231' high). But, there is a catch. As of January 2016, the bridge across Lake Creek has NOT been built. It is expected to be completed in 2016. You can rock hop or ford Lake Creek when the water levels are normal or lower. But, after significant rain, it is too dangerous to ford. Kaaterskill Falls is 200' downstream.

MILEAGE The total distance to backpack this trail is 26.08 miles. There is 1.80 miles for water runs, camping, view points, etc. The shortest distance is 24.28 miles. Some of the 1.80 miles is optional, and some is mandatory.

  • Day #1 - 0.02 miles - Ledge view point at Acra Point (Optional)
  • Day #1 - 0.35 miles - Trail down to the Lean-To (Mandatory)
  • Day #2 - 0.35 miles - Trail back up to the Escarpment Trail from the Lean-To (Mandatory)
  • Day #2 - 0.50 miles - Water run. If you must hike the other water source it is 1-1/2 miles extra (Mandatory)
  • Day #2 - 0.09 miles - Hike off the Escarpment Trail to the campsite (Mandatory)
  • Day #3 - 0.09 miles - Hike back to the Escarpment Trail from the campsite (Mandatory)
  • Day #3 - 0.40 miles - Hike to Bear's Den (flat hiking) - Best View Point (Optional)

  • OTHER - Sometimes hikers cannot stay for all 3 days. To make this a two day hike, you can start at the Blackhead Parking Area. This will trim the hike down to 2 days. The first day being the hardest.




    Maps for the Entire Escarpment Trail Hike for all 3 days

    gps map of entire Escarpment Trail in the Catskill Mountains
    Click the image to view a larger version of the map for ALL Days




    Maps and GPS files for DAY #1

    gps map of hike to windham high peak
    Click the image to view a larger version of the map for DAY #1
    Click here to download the GPS file for DAY #1 in Garmin format
    Click here to download the GPS file for DAY #1 in GPX format
    Click here to download the GPS file for DAY #1 in Text format

    Mile Post Chart for Day #1

    Daily
    Milage
    Total
    Mileage
    ElevationNotes
    0.000.001,710' DEC Parking lot on Rt 23 / Cross Road.
    (GPS: N42 18.762 W74 11.421 - WGS84: 42.3127, -74.19035
    1.431.432,317' Trail Junction for the Elm Ridge Trail on left. Go STRAIGHT.
    1.441.443,513' Trail Junction. Straight will take you to Peck Road. Left will take you to Windham High Peak. Go LEFT
    1.471.472,341' Lean-To on right.
    3.613.613,487' DEC 3500' sign.
    3.663.663,516' View Point #1 near Windham High Peak.
    3.663.663,517' View Point #2 near Windham High Peak.
    3.763.763,525' Summit of Windham High Peak & USGS Marker
    3.803.803,507' View Point #3 near Windham High Peak (slightly beyond summit)
    5.075.073,020' View Point #3 near Burnt Knob
    5.445.442,971' View Point #2 near Burnt Knob
    6.036.033,036' View Point #1 near Burnt Knob.
    6.436.432,761' Trail Junction. Straight will take you to Blackhead Mtn. Right will take you to the DEC parking lot. Go STRAIGHT.
    6.736.732,991' Trail Junction on Right side of trail - View from Un-named Ledge #1
    6.756.752,991' Un-named Ledge #1 - N42 17.987 W74 06.390
    7.147.143,084' Summit of Acra Point
    8.868.862,871' Trail Junction - Straight goes to Blackhead Mtn (difficult climb)
    Right takes you to DEC parking lot - Go RIGHT. - N42 16.542 W74 05.884
    9.219.212,679' Batavia Lean-To


    Maps and GPS files for DAY #2

    gps map of hike to windham high peak
    Click here to download the GPS file for DAY #2 in Garmin format
    Click here to download the GPS file for DAY #2 in GPX format
    Click here to download the GPS file for DAY #2 in Text format

    Mile Post Chart for Day #2

    Daily
    Mileage
    Total
    Mileage
    ElevationNotes
    0.009.212,679' Batavia Lean-To - Hike back up the trail to the Escarpment Trail
    0.359.562,871' Trail Junction - Take a RIGHT Blackhead Mountain
    1.2410.453,955' Summit of Blackhead Mountain - Take a LEFT to Dutcher's Notch
    2.5711.783,461' Summit of Arizona Mtn
    3.6712.883,155' Great views over the East Kill Valley - view is 100' off the trail
    4.2613.472,557' Trail Junction - Dutcher's Notch - Take a LEFT to Stork Nest Road
    4.5113.72' Water Spring (can dry up in the summer) - Then hike back up to Dutcher's Notch
    4.7613.972,557' Trail Junction - Dutcher's Notch - Take a LEFT towards Stoppel Point
    5.9515.163,079' View Point to Countryman Kill / Winter Clove ridge line
    6.8216.013,400' Plane Crash
    6.8316.023,400' View Point to the Blackheads
    7.0216.233,417' Summit of Stoppel Point
    8.2317.443,074' Lookout #2 (overlooking North-South Lake)
    8.3217.533,074' Lookout #2 (overlooking North-South Lake)


    Maps and GPS files for DAY #3

    gps map of hike to windham high peak
    Click here to download the GPS file for DAY #3 in Garmin format
    Click here to download the GPS file for DAY #3 in GPX format
    Click here to download the GPS file for DAY #3 in Text format

    Mile Post Chart for Day #3

    Daily
    Mileage
    Total
    Mileage
    ElevationNotes
    0.0017.533,159' Unofficial Camp Site overlooking North-South lake and the Hudson Valley
    0.0917.623,165' Get back on the Escarpment Trail
    0.3417.873,105' Lookout #2 (see picture at the top of this page for this spectacular view)
    0.6018.133,019' Lookout #1 (North Point)
    0.7418.272,867' Ledge with a nice view
    0.8718.402,770' Trail Junction - Go LEFT - LEFT continues down the Escarpment Trail. Go LEFT! Right takes you to the west side of North-South Lake
    1.4819.012,654' Trail Junction at Bad Man's Cave - Go LEFT to continue on the Escarpment Trail - Right will take you to the west side of North-South Lake
    2.0519.582,498' Newman's Ledge - Spectacular view of the Hudson River
    2.2519.782,464' Trail Junction of Bear's Den (NOTE: DEC sign incorrectly calls it Sunset Rock) - Best views in the Catskills!
    2.4519.982,459' Bear's Den
    2.6520.182,464' Trail Junction of Bear's Den (NOTE: DEC sign incorrectly calls it Sunset Rock) - Best views in the Catskills!
    3.1220.652,286' Prospect Rock (NOTE: DEC sign incorrectly calls it Artist Rock)
    3.3920.921,838' Artist Rock (View of where the Catskill Mountain House was is overgrown)
    3.5821.111,879' Wood Deck with limited View (North Lake to your right)
    3.6121.141,903' Catskill Mountain House Road on your left. Continue STRAIGHT.
    3.6921.221,920' Location of the old Cog Railroad Station (Now gone) - Continue Straight towards/around Yellow Gate with Stop sign and up the hill.
    3.8321.362,009' Trail Junction - LEFT takes you to the old Catskill Mountain House Ruins. Go LEFT. Right takes you to North Lake
    3.9421.472,061' Location of the old Catskill Mountain House site (Now gone - Just a flat grassy spot - Good place for lunch) - Then proceed to the south west side of the grass lawn (near signs) to continue with the Escarpment Trail.
    4.1721.702,350' Sphinx Rock
    4.2221.752,360' Eagle Rock - Nice views of the Hudson Valley
    4.3821.912,420' Trail Junction - LEFT takes you to Boulder Rock. Go LEFT. Right will short cut around Boulder Rock.
    4.4822.012,358' Boulder Rock - Once done with the views continue right of Boulder Rock to Split Rock and beyond
    4.6922.222,389' Trail Junction - LEFT will continue on the Escarpment Trail - Right is the junction of the short cut around Boulder Rock.
    5.3322.862,457' Trail Junction - LEFT will continue on the Escarpment Trail - Right takes you ruins of Kaaterskill Hotel AND bypasses the southern part of the Escarpment Trail.
    5.8323.362,240' Trail Junction - RIGHT will continue on the Escarpment Trail - Left will take you to Palenville Overlook.
    5.8923.422,233' Trail Jucntion - LEFT will continue on the Escarpment Trail - NOTE: This section shouldn't be done with snow/ice on the ground!
    6.4623.992,173' Inspiration Point
    6.7924.322,146' Sunset Rock (NOTE: DEC sign incorrectly calls it Inspiration Point)
    6.9024.432,188' Trail Junction - STRAIGHT will continue on the Escarpment Trail - Right will bypass Council's Bluff and Kaaterskill falls (231')
    7.0424.572,054' Ledge
    7.2324.761,952' Council's Bluff - site for ceremony's performed here by the Mohonk Indians
    7.3224.851,865' Layman's Monument - View Point for Haines Falls
    7.8325.362,066' Trail Junction - Depending upon which DEC parking lot you parked in will determine which direction to go.
    Left will take you to the Laurel House DEC Parking Lot (about 1/4 mile more) and Kaaterskill Falls (about 200' downstream)
    Right will take you to Scutt Road DEC Parking Lot (3/4 mile more)
    8.0025.532,141' Trail Junction - LEFT will take you to Scutt PA - Straight will take you to South Lake (Cross-Crountry Ski Trail) - Right will take you back to Kaaterskill Hotel - Go LEFT to Scutt PA
    8.0225.552,140' NOTE: About 100' down the trail there is an unofficial trail junction - Stay LEFT - Straight will take you to the old Kaaterskill Hotel Laundry (Stone building).
    8.1125.642,180' Trail Junction - STRAIGHT will take you to Scutt PA - Right will take you to South Lake - Left will take you to Scutt Road (walk up the hill to the Scutt PA). Go Straight.
    8.5526.082,330' Scutt DEC Parking Lot - You're done!



    Directions to Trail Head on LAUREL HOUSE ROAD from the NYS Thruway

  • Take New York State Thruway to Exit 21 (Catskill).
  • Take a left out of the NYS Thruway entrance road.
  • Go approximately 1/4 mile
  • Take a right onto Route 23 West
  • Go approximately 6.6 miles to Cairo, NY
  • Take a LEFT onto Rt 32. McDonalds Rest. on corner.
  • Go approximately 7.7 miles on Rt 32
  • Take a RIGHT onto Rt 23A
  • Go approximately 7-8 miles on Rt 23A .
  • Climb up the windy mountain road (Rt 23A). When you reach the top, you will then be in Haines Falls.
  • Take a RIGHT onto North Lake Road.
  • Follow North Lake Road until you reach Laurel House Road on the RIGHT side of the road.
  • Take a RIGHT onto Laurel House Road.
  • Go to the end of Laurel House Road and park at the turn-around.
  • There is NO fee to park here - You can park here for multiple nights
  • GPS location of Parking Lot at the end of Laurel House Road is: N 42 11.650, W 74 03.734
  • If this parking lot is full, you can use the Scutt Road Parking Lot (just before the campground - GPS: N 42 12.066 W 74 03.508)
  • Park one of your cars here. Then take your other car to the Rt 23 Parking Lot in Windham


  • Directions to Trail Head on SCUTT ROAD from the NYS Thruway

  • Take New York State Thruway to Exit 21 (Catskill).
  • Take a left out of the NYS Thruway entrance road.
  • Go approximately 1/4 mile
  • Take a right onto Route 23 West
  • Go approximately 6.6 miles to Cairo, NY
  • Take a LEFT onto Rt 32. McDonalds Rest. on corner.
  • Go approximately 7.7 miles on Rt 32
  • Take a RIGHT onto Rt 23A
  • Go approximately 7-8 miles on Rt 23A .
  • Climb up the windy mountain road (Rt 23A). When you reach the top, you will then be in Haines Falls.
  • Take a RIGHT onto North Lake Road.
  • Drive PAST Laurel House Road (on the RIGHT).
  • Follow North Lake Road until you reach Scutt Road on the RIGHT side of the road. (Just before North-South Campgrouds)
  • Take a RIGHT onto Scutt Road.
  • Drive about 250' and the DEC Parking Lot is on the RIGHT side of Scutt Road.
  • There is NO fee to park here - You can park here for multiple nights
  • GPS location of Parking Lot at the end of Laurel House Road is: N 42 11.650, W 74 03.734
  • If this parking lot is full, you can use the Scutt Road Parking Lot (just before the campground - GPS: N 42 12.066 W 74 03.508)
  • Park one of your cars here. Then take your other car to the Rt 23 Parking Lot in Windham


  • Directions to Trail Head in WINDHAM from North-South Lake

  • Drive back to North Lake Road.
  • Take a LEFT on to North Lake Road.
  • Take a LEFT on to Rt 23a
  • Take a LEFT when you come out of Palenville at the traffic light(stay on Rt 23a)
  • Take a LEFT at the next traffic light on to Rt 32.
  • Take a LEFT at the SECOND traffic light on to Rt 23.
  • After you climb the Eastern Escarpment on Rt 23, the DEC parking lot is a couple miles on the RIGHT.
  • Take a RIGHT onto Cross Road - DEC parking lot is on the corner - DEC parking lot can be seen from Rt 23. (GPS: N42 18.762 W74 11.421 - WGS84: 42.3127, -74.19035)


  • Directions to Trail Head in WINDHAM from New York State Thruway

  • Take New York State Thruway to Exit 21 (Catskill).
  • Take a left out of the NYS Thruway entrance road.
  • Go approximately 1/2 mile
  • Take a right onto Route 23 West
  • Go somewhere around 20.2 miles on Route 23.
  • Take a RIGHT onto Cross Road - DEC parking lot is on the corner - DEC parking lot can be seen from Rt 23. (GPS: N42 18.762 W74 11.421 - WGS84: 42.3127, -74.19035)



  • Hike of the Escarpment Trail from Windham to Kaaterskill Falls

    DEC parking lot for Windham High Peak on Rt 23
    The picture shows the DEC parking on the corner of Rt 23 and Cross Road. The Parking lot is located between East Windham and Windham.

    There is NO fee to park in this parking lot. It can fill up on summer weekends and holidays.
    You can park here overnight and for multiple nights.
    Windham High Peak
    When you leave the DEC parking lot and walk to the intersection of Cross Road and Rt 23, you will see the DEC sign direction across Rt 23. Be careful crossing Rt 23. Walk down the trail and walk across the bridge. Please note: During big rain storms the water can rise above the bridge, and the beginning of the trail can be under 3' of water. If this is the case, drive to the DEC parking lot in Maplecrest (Peck Road).
    DEC sign at the beginning of the Escarpment Trail at Rt 23 to Windham High Peak
    The DEC sign on the south side of Rt 23.

    NOTE: Most of the DEC signs have inaccurate mileage. The reason is that the mileage was measured with a wheel. Today, GPS measurements are much more accurate. Furthermore, there have been changes in the trail that has changed the mileage.





    This is the trail between Rt 23 and the DEC Registration Box. This section can be under water. Sometimes it can be under 3' of water when the water is high. It usually take 5-10" of rain for this to happen. If the water is up to the bottom of the bridge, then the trail is flooded.
    Windham High Peak
    DEC registration box for Windham High Peak
    This is the DEC Registration Box. You SHOULD register your hike. If you get lost or injured, this information will help SAR find you. This is for your benefit.



    Just after the DEC Registration box are the beginning of the Fun Loops. The Fun Loops are designed for Mountain Bikers. But, hikers and skiers use them too. Continue straight up the trail.
    Fun Loops trail near Windham High Peak
    upper entrance to Fun Loops on the trail to  Windham High Peak
    You will come to the Intersection of the Upper Fun Loop Trails. You want to take a RIGHT and continue up the mountain.



    When you come to the top of Elm Ridge, you will come to the intersection to the Mountain Bike Trails to Elm Ridge (can Hike and ski them too), and the trail from Peck Road, and the Escarpment Trail to the top of Windham High Peak. You want to stay on the Escarpment Trail, so take a LEFT at the 4-way intersection.
    Fun Loops trail near Windham High Peak
    conifer forest on the trail to Windham High Peak
    The picture shows one of the conifer forest you will pass through on your way to Windham High Peak. 150 feet after the 4-way intersection is the short side trail to the Windham Lean-to. If you are not camping here, then continue straight to Windham High Peak. The trail to the Windham Lean-To and camp site on your right. If you do use the Lean-To, you must share it with others.
    DEC lean-to near Elm Ridge and on the trail to Windham High Peak
    This picture shows the DEC Lean-To near Elm Ridge. There is also a DEC camp site in back of the Lean-to along with an outhouse. Notice: You must share the Lean-To with others. The water supply here can be limited. In the dry part of the summer, the water source can dry up. A common problem all along the Escarpment Trail. The water source is located on the trail down to Peck Road.
    view from the summit of Windham High Peak
    This view point is near the summit of Windham High Peak. The peaks that you see in the distance are Blackhead Mountain and Black Dome Mountain. And, on the very right side of the image is Thomas Cole Mountain. This is the first view point, and it is located at 3.66 miles, and about 1/10 of a mile before the summit of Windham High Peak.
    USGS marker on Windham High Peak
    At mile post 3.76 you will encounter a rock in the path. This IS the summit for Windham High Peak. You will find a USGS marker embedded in the rock. There is another great view point 200' away from the peak. It will drop a little in elevation. But, the view is excellent.

    The picture on the RIGHT provides you with a close up of one of the three USGS marker.
    USGS marker on Windham High Peak
    view from the summit of Windham High Peak
    200 feet past the peak is a beautiful ledge with a large panoramic view of the Hudson Valley. This is at mile post 3.80.

    If you have hiked from Rt 23, then this is a good place for lunch.

    If you started your day from the Windham Lean-to, then you might consider having lunch on the south side of Burnt Knob. There is an excellent ledge overlooking Blackhead and Black Dome Mountains. It is another 2.4 miles further down the trail.
    Windham High Peak
    After you leave the third ledge on Windham High Peak, you will start to descend. The trail from Windham High Peak to Burnt Knob is rarely used and maintained. The picture on the left shows a picture of the trail. Due to the summer ground growth, you will travel at a much slower pace.

    During the winter, this is probably a very nice trail.

    When you start to approach the peaks of Burnt Knob, you will descend a steep slope. At the bottom, you will cross a stony gap, and then ascend a steep climb back up Burnt Knob. It is actually a separate peak from Burnt Knob.
    Burnt Knob
    At mile post 5.07 you will encounter view point #3 on the north side of Burnt Knob. This is after a steep climb up the gap. Off to the right of this picture, you can see Windham High Peak. This view overlooks the Batavia Valley and Windham High Peak (not in picture).
    Burnt Knob
    At mile post 5.44 you will encounter view point #2 on Burnt Knob. This ledge is on the east side which shows Windham High Peak and the Hudson Valley. It is a large ledge with a great view.
    Burnt Knob
    At mile post 6.03 you will encounter view point #1 on Burnt Knob. This ledge is on the southwest side which shows the Windham High Peak Range. In the picture you have an excellent view of Windham High Peak and Black Dome Mountain. It has the best view of both Blackhead and Black Dome Mountains.
    Burnt Knob
    After you leave the last view point, you will descend down a steep trail. When you get to the bottom, you will be in a Gap. In the Gap is a Trail Junction. This trail junction is at mile post 6.43. Straight will take you to Acra Point. Right will take you to the Blackhead DEC parking lot. You want to continue STRAIGHT on the Escarpment Trail.
    Acra Point Loop Trail The picture on the LEFT show a picture of the trail (100' long) to the Un-named Ledge. It is beautiful ledge overlooking the Blackhead Mountain Range. You can also see Burnt Knob from this ledge.

    At mile post 7.14, you will encounter Acra Point. Unfortunately, the brush and trees have grown up over the years and have obscured the great view that past generations had.
    Acra Point Loop Trail
    Trail Junction to Blackhead Mountain and Batavia Kill Lean-to
    The trail further down the Escarpment trail is flat for the most part. The ridge you will be walking on is 50 to 200 feet wide. Some of the ledges off the trail are quite high. Some are over 100 feet high. It is a nice walk.

    At mile post 8.86, you will encounter a trail junction. Going straight will take you to the top of Blackhead Mountain. This is a very steep and difficult hike. Right will take you back to the DEC parking lot. Go RIGHT. .
    Batavia Kill Lean-to at the base of Blackhead Mountain
    At mile post 9.21 you will encounter the DEC Batavia Kill Lean-to. The picture on the left shows what the lean-to looks like.

    This Lean-to has had a problem with porcupines for quite a few years. Generally they don't bother people. Black bears have a higher presence here, so use good camping practices with cooking food.

    There is a stream next to the Lean-to that is a reliable source of water all year. If for some reason it is dry, you can hike further down the hill until water appears in the stream.

    In the morning hike back up the trail to the Escarpment Trail. It is about 0.35 miles back to the Escarpment Trail.
    Blackhead Mountain
    At mile post 0.35 you will encounter a Trail Junction. Going left will take you to Acra Point. Going RIGHT will take you to Blackhead Mountain. Go RIGHT.

    The picture on the right (looking down the trail) show what an average section of trail looks like. The further up the mountain you travel, the steeper it gets. The last 150 vertical feet is the most difficult. The grade is around 35-to-40 degrees. In the winter you can snowshoe up to this last section with good snowshoes. In the Winter months we recommend cramp-ons and a good ice ax. But, it can be done with good snowshoes.
    Blackhead Mountain
    Blackhead Mountain
    Part way up the steep section (Elevation 3,147) you will encounter your first view point. The views are limited as you can see in the picture on the left. You can see Cairo Round Top Mountain in the background. Blackhead Mountain summit is still another 795 feet above this view. The views off the summit are far superior to this view.
    stone tunnel at the base of arizona mountain near dutchers notch
    After about 1.27 miles you will reach the summit of Blackhead Mountain. There is no view from the official summit. Years ago, the summit was bare, and the views were spectacular.

    There is also a Trail Junction at the summit. LEFT will take you down the South side of Blackhead Mountain. Right will take you to Black Dome and Blackhead Parking Lot. Go LEFT.

    As you start to descend the south side of Blackhead Mtn, you will encounter TWO view points. The first one is called Camp Steel. It is marked on the rock. The second view point is the best view point. In the picture on the right is the long ridge walk from Blackhead to Dutcher's Notch. You can also see the Hudson River in the background. It is a beautiful 2 mile flat walk across the ridge of the Eastern Escarpment.
    View of Arizona Mountain Ridge Walk from the summit of Blackhead Mountain
    second view point on the sout side of the Blackhead mountain summit with views of Acra Point and the Hudson River and Arizona Mountain
    This is the view from the second view point looking North. In the distance you can see Acra Point and the nice ridge walk of the Eastern Escarpment from Blackhead to Acra Point to Burnt Knob.

    This is part of the hike you did yesterday.
    Rock Hallway at the base of Blackhead Mountain that marks the entrance to the flat walk across the Arizona Ridge
    After you get done soaking up the beautiful views from the 2nd view point on the south side the Blackhead Mountain Ridge, you will then start to descend the south face of Blackhead Mountain. The descent is quite rapid, so you need to exercise a little caution on your trip down. Some people might be a little intimidated by the steep descent. But, if you take your time, you will find a doable path down the trail.

    As you approach the bottom, the rate of descent will decrease. When you get near the very bottom you will see this beautiful rock hallway. Once you pass through the Rock Hallway, the trail will become flat for the next two miles. There will be several slight inclines or declines, but the trail is pretty much flat. It is a beautiful walk across this part of the Eastern Escarpment. Especially, in the Fall when the leaves are changing.
    view of Acra Point from the south base of Blackhead Mountain on your way to arizona mountain
    Shortly after you start the flat section of this hike, you will encounter a view point. The picture on the left shows the view. The mountain in the background is Acra Point.
    typical view of the 2 mile long ridge walk across Arizona Mountain
    This is what the long hike across the Arizona Mountain ridge looks like. It is mainly a deciduous forest. Arizona Mountain at one time burned leaving a stark landscape. Hence the name of the mountain.

    There are a few short sections of conifer forest. But, they don't last long.
    small conifer forest section on the hike to arizona mountain
    summit picture of Arizona Mountain with a view of Blackhead Mountain in the background
    It is hard to realize when you have reached the summit of Arizona Mountain. There is a small grass section with stones dotting the trail. When you find the stones in the path you have reach the summit of Arizona Mtn. If you turn around, you will see Blackhead Mountain in the distance. There are no spectacular view points from the summit.

    As you move further south of Arizona Mountain summit, the forest will stay the same. While this flat section goes for miles, do not be fooled the steep side walls of this ridge. The east and west walls of this path are incredibly steep. Enjoy the easy hike across this beautiful ridge of the Eastern Escarpment.
    view of the path south of arizona mountain but before dutcher's notch
    view of the hudson valley from the view point just south of Arizona Mountain in the Catskill Mountains
    After hiking a distance down the trail between Arizona Mountain and Dutcher's Notch, you will come to another view point. This view point is mainly overlook the Hudson River Valley. After this view point, the trail will move slightly southwest.
    conifer forest between arizona mountain and the view point over East Kill Valley
    The forest will change from a deciduous forest to a conifer forest for a period of time.

    Near the end of the conifer forest section, you will go down a slight decline in elevation. Nothing significant, but it marks where the forest will change back to deciduous forest, and you will encounter a spectacular view point of the East Kill Valley.
    conifer forest between Arizona mountain and the view point over East Kill Valley
    view point of the East Kill Valley
    This important view point is about 100-150' off the trail. Worth every step on a beautiful clear day. Make sure you stop and catch the views. The rock in the picture is a good place to stop and rest, or eat lunch.
    view point for the east kill valley with views of Colgate Lake and Capra Lake from the Eastern Escarpment
    This is one of the views from this particular view point. The view is over the East Kill Valley. In the distance you can see Capra Lake and get a glimpse of Colgate Lake. You probably cannot camp at this rock. It is probably not 150' off the trail, as required by the NYS DEC. But, you can move along the rim to find a good spot to camp. But, remember there is NO water here.
    steep trail down into Dutcher's Notch from Arizona Mountain in the Catskill Mountains
    After you leave the great view point over the East Kill Valley, you will come to a point where the trail will descend steeply in elevation into Dutcher's Notch.

    After you get past the steepest part of descent towards Dutcher's Notch, there is a place called the Stone Tunnel (pictured on the right). It is located in a difficult rock section. There are two ways through this section. So, it is possible that you can miss the Stone Tunnel. After the Stone Tunnel the trail becomes easy hiking.
    Stone Tunnel above Dutcher's Notch
    Dutcher's Notch on the Escarpment Trail between Arizona Mountain and Stoppel Point
    When you get to the bottom of the notch in the Eastern Escarpment, you will be at Dutcher's Notch. Mile post 4.26. There is a 4-way Trail Junction. Straight will take you to Stoppel Point and North-South Lake and the Southern part of the Escarpment Trail. Right will take you to Colgate Lake. About 3/4 of a mile down this trail is a camp site and a reliable water source. Left will take you to Stork Nest Road.

    Important Note: This is your last chance to get water for the next 24 hours. Do NOT leave Dutcher's Notch without water!

    Turn LEFT and hike for 1/4 mile to a Spring on the RIGHT side of the trail. NOTE: The Spring can dry up during dry summers. If it is dry I would hike back up to Dutcher's Notch and hike down the other side. For a more reliable water source you can go right for 3/4 of a mile.
    the beginning of the hiking trail from Dutcher's Notch down to Stork Nest Road
    The beginning of the trail from Dutcher's Notch down to Stork Nest Road. This trail is the old Cairo and East Kill Turnpike built around 1836. The DEC turned it into a hiking trail in the early 1970's. The old turnpike is quite rocky and has severe erosion. Parts of the trail have been diverts slightly.

    About 1/4 mile down the trail is a water spring. During some summers it will dry up. It is easy to miss, so pay attention if you need water.
    water spring between Dutcher's Notch and Stork Nest Road
    beginning of the eastern escarpment at dutchers notch and colgate carriage road to stoppel point
    When you hike back up to Dutcher's Notch after getting water at the Spring, you want to take a LEFT. If you are hiking back up from the Capra Lake / Colgate Lake side (west side), then you need to take a RIGHT back onto the Escarpment Trail. You want to head towards North-South lake. This picture shows the beginning of the trail. This part of the trail is on the Eastern Escarpment Trail.

    At the beginning of the trail, it will head uphill for about 200 vertical feet. The trail will then level out for a nice walk for about a 1/2 mile.
    eastern escarpment from dutchers notch and stoppel point
    most difficult section of the escarpment trail between dutchers notch and stoppel point
    The trail will then head uphill again. This is the most difficult part of the trail, which isn't that difficult. This rock is about 3' high. Fairly easy to get up.

    As you approach 3,000' the forest will start to change to a conifer forest, and the trail will level off again for another 1/2 mile.
    conifer forest above 3,000' on the escarpment trail between dutchers notch and stoppel point
    View Point from the Escarpment trail looking over Countryman Kill valley and Winter Clove valley little stoppel point
    This is the view point between Dutcher's Notch and Stoppel Point. It over looks Countryman Kill Valley. The ridge in the background is Little Stoppel Point. Over Little Stoppel Point is Winter Clove Valley. The far reaching mountian is North Mountain.
    North and South Lake
    Just before you reach Stoppel Point, you will encounter a plane crash. The picture on the LEFT is the plane crash that is right next to the trail. You are at Mile Post 6.82. You can't miss it. If the pilot has been 25' higher, he would have not crashed. If you have a GPS, you can track it with "Air Crash 2" on geocaching.com. The pilot was John T Grace flying the pictured Piper PA-28 (#N1316T). He crashed on May 25th 1983 at 9:40 AM. He was killed in the crash. He left Poughkeepsie at 9:12 AM and was flying to Watertown, NY. He had a revoked student pilot's licence. He didn't file a flight plan.

    There is a second plane crash that is Northeast of Stoppel Point at elevation of 2,800 feet. It is located in a VERY difficult and steep section of the mountain. It is accessible from the valley by following up the stream. From the top, it can only be accessed with climbing gear and ropes. This crash was piloted Timothy Burns, who was a very good pilot. The crash occurred on December 15, 1989 and killed 6 people. The plane was a Piper Navajo with registration #N45CH. He was flying in a snowstorm, and was flying NVR. There are 7 known plane crashes on the Eastern Escarpment.
    second view point on stoppel point overlooking the blackhead mountain range
    The picture on the left is the view just after the Plane Crash #1. In this picture you can see Acra Point, Dutcher Notch, Blackhead Mtn, Blackdome Mtn, and Thomas Cole.

    The picture on the right is the DEC trail marker at Stoppel Point. This is at mile post 7.02. The picture on the top of this page is the view from Stoppel Point. It overlooks Cairo, NY.

    stoppel point summit
    view point from stoppel point summit
    This is the view point from Stoppel Point. It overlooks Little Stoppel Point in the ridge on the left side. In the center is Winter Clove Valley. On the right is North Mountain.

    In the distance is Catskill NY and Hudson NY. Beyond that is Massachusetts.
    barred owl on the eastern escarpment
    During the Fall and Winter, sometimes a few lucky people will see Barred Owls. Barred Owls nest in the Durham Valley and lower eastern escarpment. After they are done nesting, they often move up to the Eastern Escarpment. The Eastern Escarpment has lots of chipmunks and rabbits for them to prey on. If you hear birds screaming and mobbing in a tree, look for an owl. In the Fall and Spring you can sometimes see Saw-Whet Owls during their migration.
    escarpment trail just south of stoppel point in the catskill mountains
    The picture on the LEFT is the trail just below Stoppel Point. There is a small decline down from to Stoppel Point. After the short decline, the trail will be flat for the next 1-1/2 miles to North Mountain. Very similar terrain that you encountered on Arizona Mtn.

    The picture on the RIGHT is the trail between Stoppel Point and North Mountain. The trail will look similar to this for the next 1-1/2 miles.
    North and South Lake
    hidden campsite on North Mountain
    After you pass North Mountain, you will start to descend slightly. There will be a location where you can leave the trail for the hidden campsite. The hidden campsite on North Mountain is about 450' off the Escarpment Trail. Initially you should look for an opening of the forest on the right of the path. If you go too far, the trail will turn 90 degrees to the left, and you will come to an opening on a large flat ledge slab. Turn around and go back into the forest and look for the opening. If the leaves are not on the trees you can see the rim. In the summer months you may not be able to see the rim.

    As you walk in the opening head for the rim while turning very slowly to the right. Follow the rim. You will get to a point where you cannot follow the rim because there is a lot of brush. Move away from the rim and climb up on large rocks and then follow the rim. After a short distance, you will be able to return to the rim. After you walk past two conifer trees that are very close together, you will come to the hidden campground. Camp site - GPS: N42 13.027 W74 02.760
    campsite on North Mountain off the Escarpment Trail
    The picture shows part of the hidden campsite. Off the rim you can see North-South Lakes and the Hudson River. There is a fire ring and an cooking table. There is room for about 3-4 tents. This campsite is rarely used because most people don't know about it.

    If you choose to not camp here you need to beware that the DEC doesn't like people to camp below North Point. It is too close to the DEC campgrounds. Many people who try to camp below North Point often get a ticket from the DEC. The campgrounds are another 3-4 mile hike. The campgrounds are almost always booked! This region is the best place to camp.

    There is NO water at this campsite, or anywhere nearby! Get your water at Dutcher's Notch.
    Lookout #2 with views over North and South Lake
    On the 3rd day, leave your camp site and head back to the Escarpment Trail. About 1/4 mile down the Escarpment Trail, you will come to Lookout #2.

    The picture on the LEFT is Lookout #2 near North Mountain. It is a short distance after a cutoff for the hidden campsite on North Mountain on the southern rim. On a clear day it has a great view over North-South Lake and the Hudson River Valley.
    pocket hole ledge near North Point and North Mountain
    The picture on the LEFT is Pocket Hole Ledge. There is a large rock on the ledge. We stood on top of this rock to get this picture. It is half way between Lookout #1 (North Point) and Lookout #2. The mountains in the background of the picture are (from right-to-left) is Acra Point, Dutcher Notch, Blackhead Mtn, Blackdome Mtn, and Thomas Cole. On the very left you can see Stoppel Point.
    Trail sign at North Point Lookout #1
    The picture on the LEFT shows the trail marker at Lookout #1 (Commonly called North Point). When you get to this sign you will be at North Point. In the afternoon, North Point can be quite busy with day hikers. Oddly, many of them do not continue to Lookout #2, which has better views.
    View of North and South Lake and the Hudson River from North Point
    The picture on the LEFT is the view from North Point. The picture only shows some of the view. You actually get a spectacular view of the Hudson Valley, including the Hudson River. From this point, you can see five states on a clear day.

    This ledge can get quite crowded on a nice summer weekend.
    descent off the ledge near North Point
    After North Point, there are two difficult ledges you will need to descend. The first is just steps away from North Point. Most people will take off their backpack to descend this ledge.

    The second ledge is just as difficult. Again, you will need to take off your backpack to descend. Sometimes this ledge can be wet or icy in the Winter months. There is a way to walk around the second ledge. Just walk along the ledge until you find a better spot.
    off the rim of the North Point
    You will descend off the rim down some steeper and rockier sections You will encounter a few switchbacks. At the bottom of the descent, you encounter a trail junction.

    At the Trail Junction you can go right or left. You want to go LEFT. Right will take you down to the entrance of the North-South Lake campgrounds. LEFT will continue down the Escarpment Trail.
    trail junction to North Point Lookout #1
    off the rim of the North Point
    For the most part, the trail will be flat with a few minor descents.

    There are some real pretty sections to this trail.
    badman's cave on the escarpment trail
    At mile post 1.48, you will come to Badman's Cave. You want to descend down towards the bog. There are some larger rocks you will need to descend down. Once you get down to the bog, you want to go LEFT. Right will take you to the North-South Lake Campgrounds through a series of trails.

    Bad Man's Cave was used in the 1700's and 1800's by criminals. They would commit crimes in the valley and then run to the Catskill Mountains and hide at this rock overhang until things cooled off.
    bog #308 by bad man's cave in the catskill mountains
    This bog is approximately 3,430 years old (calculated by radiocarbon dating) and is 23 inches deep. It is called Bog #308. It is the 7th oldest bog in the Catskill Mountains. Bogs are typically very acidic with a pH of 3.5 to 4.0. This preserves plant life for thousands of years. This information is important for scientific research. This information comes from Michael Kudish's book, "The Catskill Forest - A History" (page 15).

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    Newman's Ledge in the Catskill mountains
    At mile post 2.05 you will encounter Newman's Ledge. Newman's ledge has a spectacular view over looks the Hudson Valley.

    The Picture is looking north. At Newman's Ledge, you will get a good view of the Hudson Valley and the Hudson River.
    trail junction to bear's den (sunset rock)
    After walking down a steep hill you will encounter another trail junction. This is an optional side trip. It this very short trip that has one of the best views in the Catskill Mountains. The DEC has mismarked it as "Sunset Rock". It is actually called "Bear's Den".

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    Bear's Den sunset rock
    After a short and easy walk, you will encounter Bear's Den. After you are done enjoying the view, just reverse your course back to the Escarpment Trail. This is a side trip, but this very short trip has one of the best views in the Catskill Mountains. The DEC has mismarked it as "Sunset Rock". The correct name is, "Bear's Den". GPS: N42 12.321 W74 01.858. 100 Years ago, there was a wooden ladder on the south side of Bear's Den. It was called Jacob's Ladder. There are some people who believe that some of the steep areas are called Jacob's Ladder, but this is not the case.

    .
    North and South Lake
    As you return back to the Escarpment trail, you will then walk under Bear's Den. While walking under Bear's Den, you will walk under an overhang of conglomerate rock. This is what is pictured on the Left side of the screen.

    The picture on the right is Sunset Rock. Years ago, the view was much better because the trees were cleared out for an expanded view.
    bear's den and sunset rock overlooking North and South Lake
    north side of Prospect Ledge on the Escarpment Trail
    At mile post 3.12 you will encounter a long ledge. The DEC sign states that it is Artist Rock. This is incorrect. It is actually PROSPECT ROCK. This is a very long ledge that is a couple hundred feet long. GPS: N42 12.127 W74 01.770

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    Prospect Rock on the Escarpment Trail
    The picture on the LEFT shows Prospect Ledge from the southern most position.

    The picture on the RIGHT is Artist Rock. It is located at mile post 3.39. Many years ago, you could see Catskill Mountain House from this location. But, the trees have grown up, and are blocking the view. Many famous painting were done of Catskill Mountain House during this period from multiple locations. But, it is this location that was used by the Catskill Mountain House on their letterhead logo.

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    Artist's rock near North and South Lake
    wood deck on the escarpment trail
    After a short distance, you will see a wooden overlook of the Hudson Valley. After you pass this point, start looking for a trail on the LEFT. Maybe 100-200' after the overlook.

    About 100-200' later you will see a trail junction. There is a trail on your left. This is the beginning of the Sleepy Hollow Trail. Sometimes called the Mountain House Road. You want to continue STRAIGHT past the Sleepy Hollow Trail.
    beginning of the sleepy hollow trail and the escarpment trail
    Catskill Mountain House Cog Rail Road
    The trail will come to an opening. This is the top of the old cog railroad. It is located at elevation 2,158'. The Station is now gone along with the Cog Rail Road. But, the power lines still follow the old rail bed up the mountain. Today it is very easy to miss. If you look for power lines crossing the Escarpment Trail, you know that this is the place.

    You want to continue to the metal gate with a stop sign on it.
    Catskill Mountain House Cog Rail Road
    You need to look for this gate with the Stop Sign on it. Walk around it and walk up the hill until you come to a trail junction.
    trail to the catskill mountain house
    When you come to the Trail Junction, you need to take a LEFT. Left will take you to the Catskill Mountain House site. Right will take you to the North-South Lake campground service road.

    When you walk up the old road to the Catskill Mountain House, you will come to a large lawn. This is the old Catskill Mountain House site. Look for sign showing the continuation of the Escarpment Trail.
    trail sign at the catskill mountain house site
    Catskill Mountain House
    At mile post 3.94 (elevation 2,211') you will come to the old Catskill Mountain House Site. There is a beautiful view from the ledge overlooking the Hudson Valley. The Hotel existed from 1824 until 1963. When the DEC purchased the land, they got the Catskill Mountain House with the land purchase. But, they never maintained the hotel, and it fell into disrepair. The DEC then burned it down in 1963.

    This is also an excellent spot for Lunch. There is a picnic table. There isn't any water here. Nice views on a good day, and a good spot to rest. This spot can get quite busy in the summer.

    Once you are done roaming around the Catskill Mountain House site, the trail continues on the south side. Look for the Kiosk. The trail then goes up the hill. There is also a DEC Registration box at the beginning of the trail.
    Catskill Mountain House & Anvil Ledge
    One of the oldest engravings on the Catskill Mountain House. Please do not make any engravings in the rock.

    Approximately 400 years ago, the Mohawk Indians used to have a summer camp near this ledge. Very close to this engraving is a place in the ledge called Anvil rock. If you look for a spot on the ledge that looks like an anvil, this is where the Mohawk Indians burned people at the stake (Usually for murder). The Mohonk Indians left North-South Lake region around 1650 after thousands of years of use. The lake laid dormant for 150 years until the White men started to come to the region around 1800.
    Catskill Mountain House & Anvil Ledge
    Engraving of the owner of the Catskill Mountain House.

    In the 1600's this region was teeming with wildlife. The Mohawk Indians were excellent at managing the wildlife and only killed what they needed. It was reported to be the best place for hunting and trapping in the United States. There seemed to be an endless supply of wildlife. This included wolves and Mountain Lions. There were so many Mountain Lions in the Kaaterskill Clove and Tannersville that many people would not camp there. In the next 300 years, the White man would kill virtually all wildlife through hunting and logging. Today, the region still has not come close to recovering. Today there are no wolves or mountain lions in the Catskills.
    North and South Lake
    After climbing about 200 vertical feet up a moderately steep trail, you will reach the top of the hill. At the top of the hill is a rock called the Sphinx.

    At the top of the hill is a Trail Junction. You probably will not notice that it is a trail junction. Right will take you deep inside Pine Orchards. You want to go LEFT to continue down the Escarpment Trail.
    Eagle Ledge near North and South Lake
    After a short distance you will encounter Eagle Ledge. You can see this ledge in the picture on the left. Eagle Ledge has a great view over the Hudson River.

    After a short distance you will encounter another Trail Junction. Going LEFT will take you to the Boulder Rock. Going Right will short cut around Boulder Rock. You want to go LEFT.
    trail junction to boulder rock near North and South Lake
    Boulder Rock and USGS Primary survey post for the catskill mountains near North and South Lake
    After about 2/10 of a mile you will come to Boulder Rock. Sadly, much of this region is overgrown, which limits some of the views. There are several ledges around Boulder Rock. If you walk far enough north, you will find the primary USGS Survey post that was used to survey the entire Catskill Mountains around 1825. There are some blueberry bushes here, but the berries are small. They are ripe around the middle of July.

    After you continue on the Escarpment Trail after Boulder Rock, you will encounter Split rock. It is real close to Boulder Rock.
    trail junction from boulder rock and the short cut trail around boulder rock.
    After a short distance you will come to a trail junction. This is mile post 4.69. Right will be the other side of the short-cut around Boulder Rock. LEFT will continue on the Escarpment Trail to the Kaaterskill Hotel Ruins.

    In the 1800's this was the beginning of a wagon trail that was used to transport hotel patroons from Kaaterskill Hotel to Boulder Rock. They turned around at this Trail Juction.
    Trail junction near Kaaterskill Hotel
    After hiking about 2/3 of a mile (Mile Post 5.33), you will come to a new Trail Junction. Right will take you to the old Kaaterskill Hotel ruins site and short cut to the parking lots. You want to go LEFT to the Southern part of the Escarpment Trail. The Southern part of the Eastern Escarpment Trail overlooks the Kaaterskill Clove. It has some incredible views.

    The Kaaterskill Hotel Site was one of the largest hotels in the United States 100 years ago. It burned down in 1924. Much of the site is now overgrown, and turning back into a forest.

    The Southern part of the Escarpment Trail should not be hiked in the Winter months when there is snow on the trail. You can short-cut around the Southern part of the Escarpment here, or another 1/2 mile down the trail.
    old kaaterskill hotel road from palenville
    As you start down the trail, it will go downhill for about 1/2 mile. This is an old wagon trail for the Kaaterskill Hotel.

    The picture on the right is a new Trail Junction. Left will take you to Palenville Overlook. Right will continue you on the Escarpment Trail. When you take a LEFT on you will leave nice wide trail, and take a narrow trail.

    NOTE: After going about 250' you need to take a LEFT to continue on the Southern part of the Escarpment Trail. It is very easy to miss, so pay attention.
    trail junction for the escarpment trail and palenville overlook
    trail junction to the southern part of the escarpment trail
    After about 250' you will see this sign for the continuation of the Escarpment Trail. You want to take a LEFT to continue on the Southern part of the Escarpment Trail. Straight will short-cut around the southern part of the Escarpment trail that overlooks the Kaaterskill Clove. There are many spectacular view points on the Southern part of the Escarpment Trail

    This trail will wind around and stay right next to the ledges that overlook the Kaaterskill Clove.
    southern part of the escarpment trail
    Inspiration Point on the southern part of the escarpment trail
    At Mile Post 6.46 (elevation 2,192') you will encounter Inspiration Point. Inspiration Point is about 500' long with many view points. Do be careful when approaching the edge. It is a long drop to the bottom.
    Sunset Rock on the southern part of the escarpment trail
    At Mile Post 6.79 (elevation 2,167') you come to Sunset Rock. The DEC sign has it mismarked as "Inspiration Point", but that is incorrect. Sunset Rock is one of the nicest ledges on the southwestern part of the Escarpment Trail. The picture shows the view westbound towards Haines Falls. During a beautiful sunset, this views from this spot are spectacular, hence, the name "Sunset Rock". Sunset Ledge can also be very nice in the early morning when the sun is shining up the valley.

    If you look at the ledge, you will see many straight scratches in the rock. This was caused by glaciers many years ago.

    About 2/10 of a mile up the trail, will be another trail junction. You want to continue STRAIGHT. Right will short-cut out of the last section of the southern part of the escarpment trail.
    North and South Lake
    On a clear day you will be able see deep into the Kaaterskill Clove. There are about 30 waterfalls in those five ravines. From left-to-right you will see Poet's Ledge, Hillyer Ravine, Wildcat Ravine, Buttermilk Ravine, Santa Cruz Ravine, and the Five Cascades. After a very heavy rain, you can see some of the waterfalls glowing on the mountain side. Including Buttermilk Falls (highest water fall in NYS at 549' and Haines falls/five cascades at 369'). At the top of the Kaaterskill Mountain Range, you can also see the summit of Kaaterskill High Peak and Round Top Mountain.
    Council Bluff
    At mile post 7.04 (elevation 2,025'), you will encounter an unamed ledge.

    At mile post 7.32 (elevation 2,026'), you will encounter Council Bluff. From this ledge you will be able to see Haines Falls, Twilight Park, Hunter Mountain Ski Resort, Cruz Ravine/Falls, and Buttermilk Ravine/Falls. If the water is high, you can see all 9 drops to Buttermilk Falls (549').

    Layman's Monument was built to commerate Frank Layman who died fighting a forest fire that started in the clove between Bastion Falls and Kaaterskill Falls. 200 men fought the fire that day. Frank Layman was only 25 years old when he died on August 10, 1900. He was paid $5/day to fight the fire. He was working with another worker who jumped off a ledge into jagged rocks to escape. Frank Layman was engulfed in flames before he could get to the ledge. Twilight Park Association paid for the monument to be built. During the summer of 1900, the Summer was hot and exceedingly dry. There was only 18 inches of water left in South Lake. Frank Layman's monument was built where his charred body was found. He had to be indentifed by his wrist watch. After leaving Layman's Monument, you will start to uphill ascent as seen in the picture on the left.

    Council Bluff
    Escarpment Trail Laurel House Kaaterskill Falls
    At mile post 7.83, you will encounter a Trail Intersection. If you parked at the DEC Laurel House Parking Lot, you want to take a LEFT. If you parked at the DEC Scutt Parking Lot, then you want to take a RIGHT.

    NOTE: The bridge over Lake Creek to the DEC Laurel House Parking Lot is suppose to be built in 2016. If hiking in 2016, you need to check first to make sure the bridge is done. At low or moderate water, you can rock hop or ford the creek. But, at high water you cannot ford it safely.

    NOTE: In 2016 the DEC will add a trail junction JUST BEFORE this Trail Junction. The new Trail Junction will take you to the bottom of Kaaterskill Falls.
    new trail to the overlook of kaaterskill falls from laurel house road
    NOTE: If you are hiking to Scutt Road Parking Lot you should skip this step. These are the directions to the Laurel House Parking Lot.

    You are about 1/4 mile from the Laurel House Parking Area. After walking across Lake Creek, you will come to a trail junction. RIGHT will take you to Laurel House Parking Lot. Left is a short trip to the overlook of Kaaterskill Falls.

    Kaaterskill Falls is 231' with 2 drops. A great view to end your trip. Some hikers will drop their packs off at their car, and then go explore Kaaterskill Falls. There are trails to the overlook at the top of the falls, and a trail to the middle drop, and bottom of the falls. Kaaterskill Falls is often quite busy in the summer months, or when the water is flowing hard.
    kaaterskill falls from the overlook
    4-way intersection to scutt parking lot
    NOTE: Directions for those hikers going to Scutt Road Parking Lot!.

    At Mile Post 8.00, you will come to a 4-way intersection. You want to go LEFT. Straight will take you to South Lake. Right will take you to Kaaterskill Hotel. When you take a LEFT, you will go over a small bridge.

    After about 150' you will come to another trail junction. You want to go LEFT to the Scutt Road Parking Area. Straight will take you to the ruins of the Kaaterskill Hotel Laundry (Stone Building on Lake Creek).

    At mile post 8.11 you will come to a small 4-way intersection. STRAIGHT will take you to Scutt Road PA. Right will take you to South Lake. Left will take you to Scutt Road (you can take this option and walk up the road).

    At mile post 8.55, you will arrive at the Scutt Road Parking Area. Your hike is done!
    trail junction for kaaterskill laundry house and scutt road parking area
    Links and References:
    CatskillMountain.com Forum - Ask questions or tell us about your experience with this hike
    Links to Transportation, Lodging, Government sites

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