Monday, November 21, 2011
Day: Huckleberry Point
The Catskills are like this. You are a couple hours into a hike that has been nothing but woods and then you turn a corner and you are standing in the nose bleed section of one their blue ridges. Huckleberry Point, though standard in this regard, is otherwise completely out of the ordinary.
If you are going to do this in a day, plan on leaving bright and early from the city as it is a two and a half hour drive north. However, this doesn't have to be a jaunt. There is plenty of lodging in nearby Hunter. One of my favorite Catskill towns, Hunter, has an unmistakable Grateful Dead vibe that is so authentic it makes me miss my days of drum circles back in Oregon.
Quarrying and logging were some of the first industries in the Catskills and now many of the old roads used by workers serve as great hiking trails. This is the case for Huckleberry Point, which used to be an old rock quarry. As you wander through the woods, you can still see left-over, giant slabs of stone that were hauled off the mountain to be installed as pieces of side walk in New York City.
As you make your way through the trees, there is a lot of good flora and fauna. Remind yourself not to rush and take in some of the intricacies:
This trail is about five miles round trip, so leave a good four hours to complete the hike. Three for the trek and one for the view. There are plenty of ledges where you can sit and enjoy the scenery. I suggest packing something to eat while you pause.
This hike is labeled as easy, but I wouldn't categorize it as such. Right before the look out, the trail begins to dramatically decline and creates quite the hill you will have to confront on your way back.
The entire time we were on the trail, it threatened to rain. We kept going in and out of misty clouds that left us damp and wondering if we should turn around. We needed the exercise so we went on. We passed other hikers here and there were a few shoe-soaking streams that had to be waded. But for this, I might be willing to walk across hot coals:
You can find this hike in the Kaaterskill Mountain range. Do some research before hand, because there are only three trail signs that mark the way: