There will not be a lot of pictures for this one. This was another great hike with the Monmouth County Park System. There are not many pictures due to: the quick pace that we moved at, and the unrelenting uphill for the first part of the hike. In my map, we started at the upper left. The first 1.3 miles was uphill at a steep grade. You can see that in how many contour lines we crossed, and how close together those lines are.
I’ve listed two mileages for the hike distance. According to the hike leader (and the NY/NJ Trail conference map, the route we hiked was 7.4 miles. I added up all the distances listed and came up with 7.4 miles. However, my GPS track showed 6.6 miles, and lines up with other sites on the internet, including this one (see the Notch Lake description.) I get that different GPS apps can arrive at different totals. But how can GPS differ so significantly from the maps? Anyone with information, please leave an answer in the comments. All summer I have been baking off AllTrails and Gaia and have seen wildly different results.
The first picture comes from the first viewpoint, Orchard Point, atop the brutal climb from Notch Lake and Devil’s Tombstone Campground. That climb is STEEEEP and LOOOOONG. It is well worth the rest at the viewpoint. And for my money, this was the best view of the day. After scrambling up the rock, or climbing around it, the view you will see looks off towards Hunter Mountain. It’s my favorite as there is nothing but trees and mountains.
From here to the summit is a ridge walk. There might be 100 feet in elevation gain for the next two plus miles. A typical view looks like:
We stopped for lunch two tenths of a mile past the summit at an over look that looks at Sugarloaf Mountain.
After lunch, it was back on the ridge retracing our steps.
We got back to Orchard Point overlook and rested for a few minutes before we started that steep descent back down.
Here’s a picture of the rock at the overlook. On the way up, I went around it, since there was a nice trail there. Going down, I shimmied down the rock. It was much easier down than up; and I suppose if you are taller, it might be easier going up.
Back at the parking lot I took a couple of shots of Notch Lake.
Trails – Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide Trail (red), also known as the Burroughs Range Trail.
Montain – Mt. Wittenberg
I started this hike from the Woodland Valley Campground and Day Use area. It cost $6 to park in the lot for the day. The bigger bonus is, I found a place to camp so I can climb some of the other mountains and not have to drive back the same day. That was brutal.
I got to the parking lot a little before 9, paid my fee, and headed up. Right away, this trail heads up. Here’s a shot of the trail leading up to the trail register.
The trail is like that most of the way up. There are some “flatter” sections, but they are only long enough for you to catch your breath and get ready for the next climb.
Here’s a shot of an obscured viewpoint, it’s probably much nicer in the late fall, winter, and early spring.
There are a couple of smaller scrambles before the fun really begins.
The trail junctions with the yellow blazed Terrace Mountain trail, which heads to Terrace Mountain and the lean-to. The next junction is with the blue-blazed Phonecia East Branch trail.
After this the fun begins. I probably should have stowed my poles, as there are numerous spots where you need both hands. And don’t look down.
One of my favorite signs in the Catskills.
Reaching the top gives you a huge view looking mostly southeast. The large body of water is the Ashokan Reservoir. Here are three pictures looking left to right.
It was gorgeous up top, around 75 degrees. And it was fairly crowded.
There were two sections coming up that were kind of tricky, and I had been thinking of them the entire time at the top. So, I headed back down. And blew right through those two sections. Here’s a look at one of them. Once you get behind the tree, the trail goes right, and it’s a pretty steep drop off the trail.
Once past the two trail junctions from before, it was smooth sailing all the way down.
Fortunately, the trail went around this rock.
Leaves are definitely down early this year.
Crossing the bridge back to the campground.
It was only .8 miles to Cornell. Maybe I’ll try it from Slide.
Trails – Blue, Yellow (multiple – these appeared to be spurs to the falls,) Red
My Map –
A couple of notes:
This was another great trip with the Monmouth County Parks System. We did not do the full Red Trail loop, we did go to the falls though.
I’m in the process of baking off AllTrails vs. Gaia. I would have included the Gaia map, but we drove off before I stopped recording. And I didn’t figure out how to edit it until later. I’m on the fence with Gaia, because of ambiguity with its elevation gain statistic.
Finally, I don’t have as many pictures as I normally would. In fairness, this was a trip specifically geared to seeing the falls. I was surprised that there were not many other “views.” Most of the Blue trail is one big Rhododendron tunnel…which will really be nice in a month or so.
Our shuttle bus got one of the last (legal) spots in the parking lot. Also in the parking lot were a group that was performing trail maintenance in certain areas, notably they were fixing one water crossing. The Blue trail is mostly wide with some rocks, but not unbearable. There are A LOT of Rhododendrons.
Mixed in with the hardwood trees are numerous pine groves.
The area recently had much rain, and believe it or not, snow the week before. The trails were dry, for the most part, with only a couple of areas of either really soft mud, or outright flooding. The rain, though, provided extra water for streams and creeks; and meant that the falls would have a good amount of water flowing over them.
First stop would be Denton Falls, on the Neversink River, a short spur trail (Yellow) off the Blue Trail, which I’ve seen named on maps (only) as the Highland Falls trail.
We only stopped briefly to have a quick snack. Interesting for this hike, we had to hike DOWN to see two of the three falls, so most of our climbs were to come back to the Blue Trail.
To get to the second falls, we followed the Blue trail south and went over a large hill or small mountain. Another spur trail (Yellow) took us to High Falls. And to get to where we would eat lunch, we had to scramble over some rocks at water’s edge. It reminded me of Giant Stairs, though much much smaller. But, in scrambling, we were able to sit on rocks that jut out into the water and had a great view of the falls.
Here’s a shot of the cliff that was behind the rocks we sat on.
The Blue trail had a bunch of water crossings, some more fun than others. In one crossing, we found ourselves walking OVER the water, it was gurgling beneath us, and we could see it looking into sink holes that had evolved over time.
A pretty typical view of the Blue trail:
On our way to the third falls we passed a tree that I did not remember seeing before lunch, and I feel like I wouldn’t have missed it. Besides the mushrooms growing off it, a pileated woodpecker had really done a number on the tree. And curiously, he went AROUND all the mushrooms.
On our way back we made a right on the Red Trail (Mullet Loop Trail) and were on the trail for about one hundred yards before we turned left onto another spur trail (Yellow). This took us to Mullet Falls, fed by the Mullet Brook. Of the three, this was my favorite; probably because it was so much higher. We stayed here for a few minutes to eat and take some pictures.
After that, it was back to the Blue Trail, and back to the car.
This was a really nice area of the southern Catskills to hike. Interestingly, it was less than twenty miles from where I went to scout camp as a kid. This trip was specifically designed to see the falls, there were no other views to speak of. The trail is mostly flat except for going over the mountain and descending to see the falls. I highly recommend this hike to see the falls. Spring was great to see the water, I bet Fall is great with the colors out.
One final note: You’ll notice in my picture of the trail kiosk a sign alerting hikers that there is no cell signal and not to rely on phones for navigation. It is true, we all lost signal quickly. However, all of our GPS’s seemed to work fine.
Trails: Devil’s Path (red), Jimmy Dolan Notch Trail (blue)
Mountain: Indian Head Mountain (3564 feet)
(A note on my map. My phone died last week, literally right after returning from Wawayanda – I blame the mosquitoes.) So, I had to get a new phone, and I couldn’t get AllTrails running properly for almost the first mile and a half. We started at the black dot up top – so, what’s missing is the portion of the Devil’s Path up to the green dot. To see the complete map, try here. The maps differ because we took a small spur trail into Jimmy Dolan Notch for the view.)
This is the trip I’ve been waiting for all Summer – at least since August when I signed up. This trip was run out of the Monmouth County Parks System, which meant that seven us rode with two trip guides up to the Catskills, in New York. For once, I would not have to drive back, and at this distance; I’m glad. Andrew and John did a fantastic job running this trip for the Parks System, both in choosing the site and route, and keeping us moving. You will not see as many pictures on this trip, mostly because we moved at a brisk pace. I did get to take pictures of some views, and some of the flora, but mostly on the way down.
From the get-go, I couldn’t get AllTrails to work on the new phone, which meant that John, the back guide, and I were separated from the group. A quarter of a mile in, we came to the first junction, and without the rest of the group waiting, we chose wrong and headed up the Jimmy Dolan Notch Trail. After rock hopping the stream, we came to a hiker coming down who said he did NOT pass a party of seven. Back we went to the junction, to find Andrew waiting for us. Reunited, our group headed up the Devil’s path – which was really quite quaint here. The path was wide, slowly ascending, but seriously muddy. For almost the whole trip, water ran down the trails; sometimes pretty quickly, and at one point, we literally walked through small waterfalls. Those with waterproof boots trudged on through. My boots are vented, and honestly, I only noticed the water once.
The Devil’s Path intersects with the Long Path for about 100 feet, and then turns right away from the Long Path. Say goodbye to gently ascending terrain, from here up to the ridge it’s scramble after scramble – both roots and rocks. I don’t mind scrambling, some is really fun. What made this difficult was the constant water running off the rocks. And the grade. The map says it’s a mile and quarter from the junction to the first viewpoint. And it’s pretty strenuous and near vertical at points.
After climbing around this rock, the trail reaches the first viewpoint, and in my opinion, offered the best views of the day. This viewpoint, labeled Sherman’s Viewpoint on the map, offered more than 180 degree views, and had some rocks to sit on.
Two pictures…one looking towards the left, and one towards the right.
There was some discussion on eating here, but we still had one more serious climb before reaching the summit – so we decided to put off lunch until later. A wise choice.
One particular fun puzzle is the rock chimney just before the second viewpoint. You’ll know it when you reach it, and the viewpoint is right at the top. This chimney was a large rock, with footholds in the face. You had to pull yourself up using the tree roots on the side. Yes, it was fun. If it had been much higher that might have been a different story. I couldn’t really get a picture as I was in the middle of the group and didn’t want to hold people up. So, I snaked this picture from www.hikethehudsonvalley.com.
The picture doesn’t really do it justice – it’s more vertical that it looks.
From the top of the viewpoint:
And that would be the end of the real serious climbing. There would be a couple more smaller scrambles, but nothing to really write home about. Once on the ridge it was absolutely gorgeous – with temperatures in the low 70s and abundant sun. Further, at over 3500 feet, we were in a hemlock and balsam forest, and it smelled great.
At one point we had to navigate cracks in a big rock in order to reach the summit. Here’s a picture of the rock face, we kind of dog legged it around back then up to the top.
We stopped for lunch on some rocks – very near to the actual summit. The rocks are a false summit, the actual summit is about 50 feet down the trail.
After eating I scouted around the top and found Bolettes in interesting locations.
After we finished eating, we continued west on the Devil’s Path into the col between Indian Head Mountain and Twin Mountain. There was one interesting chute to descend, and we were passed by a couple and their dog – who probably did the chute easier than I did.
We made a left at the junction of the Jimmy Dolan Notch Trail to see the view from Jimmy Dolan Notch. This is the last view before the descent.
And the descent was made tricky by the constantly flowing water down the trail. Rocks were not just slippery, but outright treacherous in some spots. Everyone made it back in good time and with no accidents. Certainly, it was a challenging trip, but well worth it. The Catskills looked awesome, and further trips are necessary in the future.