Hike Distance: 8.23 miles
Trails: Trestle (White), Barton Swamp (Red dot), Jessup (Yellow), Dark Hollow (Black dot), Otterkill (Red)
It’s election day and my company gave me the day off to vote. The joke’s on them, I voted three weeks ago. So, with all the rain this past weekend, I planned on hiking today as the weather was supposed to be better. It started out nice at home, by the time I reached the trailhead and parking lot on Otterkill Road, it was cloudy and there was a smattering of rain drops on my windshield. By the end of the day the sun was out and it was gorgeous. The wind was blustery, and at the top it was downright howling, especially in the exposed areas.
I started by heading up the Trestle trail, aptly named as it starts into the woods under the MTA train trestle. On the way, I took this picture of what I would be doing very shortly.
I started out with a jacket on as I wasn’t entirely shore if I would get soaked. And the trail heads steeply up. By the time I reached Sharon’s Bench, I took the jacket off.
The trail kept climbing until it got onto the ridge.
There was lots and lots of puddingstone.
Once onto the ridge, there are lots of views in all directions.
After a short walk, you’ll run into cairns; which is where the Barton Swamp trail meets the Trestle Trail. Hang a left, then head downhill. For my entire trip, most of the difficult scrambles were in the downhill direction; and made worse by the large amount of leaf litter. Yes, I slipped a couple of times. This picture will give some idea of what the downhill scrambles look like.
Barton Swamp heads down (with extensive scrambling) into a valley where it comes to Baby Creek.
After crossing the creek, you’ll head uphill to the junction with the Jessup trail. This climbs onto the ridge of Schunnemunk Mountail, with views-a-plenty.
Did I mention puddingstone?
Before reaching the ridgeline, there was a viewpoint where I could look across to the western ridge – looking across the valley I had just traversed.
When I got onto the top of the ridge, the wind really picked up. And while I wasn’t above tree-line, there was a little exposure here. Much of the walking was on huge, long, flat puddingstone rocks; almost like walking on a roadway. At least the sun had finally come out and took the bite off the wind. I got as close as I could to the top of Schunnemunk Mountain.
From here I retraced my steps to the Dark Hollow trail; which would be my descent off the mountain. You could almost skateboard on some of the sections of rock.
The Dark Hollow trail is one continuous descent. There were lots of rock scrambles, one with water pouring from it (tough to see in this picture.)
Here’s a shot looking back up. Treacherous, with all the leaves on the trail.
Also, there would be numerous stream crossings, many of the streams were too deep to rockhop.
And what do we have here?
I wasn’t sure, until I checked here (scroll down until you get a match.)
To my eyes, it looks like Bobcat. I certainly wasn’t prepared for that.
There are a couple of nice viewpoints coming down Dark Hollow.
The trail junctions with the Otterkill trail at the railroad tracks. DO NOT CROSS the tracks. At this point most of the uphill/downhill is over, and the Otterkill is more of a woods road. There will be some small climbs, but it is a good way to finish the day.
You cross a small stream
before eventually crossing Baby Creek again, this time over a bridge.
There is one last viewpoint on the Otterkill trail before it meets back up with the Trestle Trail.
This was a great hike and it turned into a great day. It felt great with the sun out, and the wind was bearable. The trails are fairly well marked, there are only a couple of spots I had to really look around. On the large puddingstone rocks on top of the ridge, there are cairns to keep you from getting off trail, and painted arrows on the rocks when there are turns. What was nice is I only ran into one other hike the entire day. Though, there are signs along Otterkill road warning not to park on the sides – so I suspect it’s pretty busy on the weekends. All in all, a great day.
Bobcat: Well, I didn’t see one, I saw where one was.