Slide Mountain

You cannot get any higher in the Catskill Mountains than Slide Mountain.

A little back ground information: Slide mountain is the tallest mountain in all of the Catskill Park, and is known to have been the mountain top hang out for the infamous John Burroughs.  He bushwhacked to this summit from the depths of Woodland Valley, made camp under the large summit rock, and wrote numerous essays depicting the beauty of Slide Mountain Wilderness Area. The summit used to host an observers tower, but now only a foundation step can be found.  A large flat rock holds a plaque honoring John Burroughs, near an overhang that he used to spend overnight trips in.


We have hiked Slide a number of times. All from the trailhead on Rt. 42.  This approach begins with a stream crossing that can be dicey in high water or icy conditions. The eroded trail then leads you to an old woods road, and the Curtis Ormsbee Trail that you can take all the way to the Neversink and the Denning Road parking area. (A western approach to Table Mountain, as well as your jump off PA for Lone and Rocky Mountains bushwhacks.)

Our first ascent of Slide was June 7 , 2014.  We had just started hiking, with a handful of NH and NY Firetowers under our belt.   This hike may have been the catalyst that has put 1000+ miles on our feet and almost 100 summits on our tally sheet! The easy grade hike up to the semi – clear summit was just the inspiration we needed!


Northern View.  Summer 2014

Slide is one of the 4 required winter hikes you must complete to become a 35er. We re-summited on January 2 2106 to achieve the W. This trip allowed us a chance to use our new Hillsound trail crampons that we had received for the holidays. GAME CHANGER. If you havn’t invested in a good form of traction device, look no further. Pussy footing around ice patches is a thing of the past with micro spikes and crampons.


Dan  on the view point just shy of the summit of Slide.  Winter 2016

We once more headed to the summit of Slide Mountain on September 11, 2016 with the plans to descend the east side, and get a feel for the col and possible bushwhack to Friday and Balsam Cap from here. We did not know much about this section of trail, but quickly learned it would be one of our favorites.  Ladders and steep rock drop offs, as well as stunning Devils Path views adorn this side of the mountain.   The steep descent drops you about 1000′ in .7 miles to the col between Slide and Cornell.


The Stairs off Slide with Cornell looming in the background. Fall 2016

This col features a spring and  amazing primitive camping sites.  You can continue on the red blazed trail to the summit of Cornell, adding another 650’+ in gain to your hike, but the view back to slide from this approach are totally worth it!  On this trip, we decided to feel out the woods that head south off this col.  This is one way you can head towards what I like to call the “dreaded 4”.  We hit the woods a bit too high and ended up whacking around the summit of Cornell, finding a pretty cool rock outcropping that opened up a great view to the south and west, showcasing Friday, Balsam Cap, Lone, Rocky (the 4) Table and Peekamoose.


Feeling crazy after a BW to Cornell by acccident.. Fall 2016


While we have enjoyed hiking all the peaks, the approach to each one has become the real fun.  As we work on “red lining”  the Catskill Park, which means to hike all the marked trails, we will need to hike the Curtis-Ormsbee Trail!

SPECS: Slide Mountain

Summit Elevation: 4180′

Trail:  Yellow Trail thru the Winnisook Club Property meeting with the Red blazed Burroughs Range Trail.(2.75 miles one way)  Option to connect with the Curtis-Ormsbee Trail. (add 1 mile to loop)

Gain:  1700′ from Rt 42 PA

Summit Perk: Stunning views to the North from look out just shy of the summit. John Burroughs Plaque. Best hiking off the Devil’s Path on the descent to Cornell.

Best summit sandwich: Quick snacks are all you need for the short but sweet hike.

Post Hike Libation: Phoenicia Diner if you hit it right (AKA pick an off weekend when the weekenders aren’t so plentiful)


Wittenberg and Cornell

Holy Hotness.

We made camp at the Woodland Valley Campground, outside of Phoenicia NY, for what was to be a very hot and humid Memorial Day Weekend.   Woodland Valley is perfectly located to hike Wittenberg and Cornell Mountains, as well as Giants Ledge and Panther – as trail heads for these mountains all begin right in the parking lot.

We finally purchased an easy up- which has proved to be one of the most important things we use for car camping.. Kind of like how we had been bagging winter peaks in snowshoes… oblivious to the idea of micros, and now, well; now life is different.

We beat the heat by lounging around the in the cold cold waters that are the woodland valley stream, and gathered up all the energy we could to take on W & C.

And boy did I need all that energy, and then some…

After a quick meander thru some camp sites, you cross over the wooden foot bridge, and immediately being your ascent. You have about 25o’ in gain before you even reach the trail register.. Brace yourself, because I didn’t.

I am not one to take a break. I don’t want to stop until I get where I am going.. and even then I don’t typically relax. This pertains to my every day life.. not just hiking.   Well this hike threatened me in ways I never imagined.  We bee-lined it to Witt’s summit, smiling at campers who had a  much better plan than us to at least cut 500′ off their hike by heading in the night before.  We saw backpackers filtering water out of the smallest trickling stream beds.. For Memorial Day Weekend, the mountains were dry; dangerously dry. I chuckled that we had owned Sawyer Minis for years and have yet to take them on the trail.  If only I could have drank the tears I later shed off of this same thought……..

Once we hit the summit, covered in sweat, we were immediately attacked by the sweet little buggers that make any outdoor adventure great, gnats and flies.  It was so humid, hot and buggy on the summit, we barely stopped.  We high tailed it over to Cornell.  I was eager to finally see the “Cornell Crack” that I had only witnessed in pictures.  We were hiking behind a group with 2 large dogs thru the col and we were very happy when they let us pass before the crack. Dan had to encourage me to climb it.. I was ready to quit. But deep inside I knew there was no way in hell I wanted to have to climb up Witt again to get here; so I HAD to get up it.. No matter what!


Crisis averted.  I managed to wiggle my way up that crack (LOL!) and we easily cruised to the summit of Cornell. We took some pictures to prove we had hiked all the way to California… i mean, Cornell. (as we found a PCT trail marker at the summit!)


We returned to the “crack”.  Going down was SO MUCH easier.  But I may have just been high on the idea that it was all down hill from here… but an uphill battle in my soul was brewing and I didn’t even know it, Yet.

We re-summited Wittenberg, and took this chance to have a little snack and some more water.. leaving us with barely a liter for the 4 mile return hike. This posed to be a huge problem for me.   While on the decent, we saw tons of unprepared,  basically oblivious hikers, asking the typical “are we there yet” between their sighs and moans.. and this is where my fatigue started to set it.  I was having blurred vision, feeling a bit stumbly, and  I just wanted to lay down.  I  am sure, now , that I was dehydrated. and maybe bit off a little more than I could chew on this HOT holiday weekend.

After some bitching, and crying, and sitting dead center of the trail, the register came to view and I KNEW it was all downhill from here.. well minus the small uphill back to our camp site!  Another valuable lesson learned…. More water, too much water, walking off the mountain WITH water, is way way way better than not having enough.



Mountain Specs: Wittenberg & Cornell

Summit Elevation: Wittenberg 3780′  Cornell 3860′

Trail: Out and back from Woodland Valley Parking Area

Elevation Gain: 3065′

Summit Perk: Great views to the south and east from the summit of Wittenberg.   The Cornell Crack! And a PCT trail marker on the summit of Cornell… which is just silly !

Best summit sandwich: Anything.  ANYTHING. and 3 times more water than you think!

Post Hike Libation:  Shuffled to our campsite. Immediately drank some beers and headed to the woodland valley stream to soak my aching, ACHING feet!


Bear Pen and Vly

The “bushwhack” up these two 3500′ mountains in the western Catskills is not nearly as challenging as a bushwhack can be.. and given the conditions, we are far from winter hiking, but we will take whatever we can get!

We approached these, typically hiked in conjunction with each other, from the south via Rt. 3, in Halcott Center.  Don’t be fooled by the word “center” in the town name.. there is barely town, let alone the center of it, which is IDEAL for us 🙂

There was only one other car in the parking lot, which is a snow mobile turn around that has signage dictating no parking.  We parking just a smidge down the road from there, across the street from the white house, that you find mentioned in this trail write up.

The hike begins on a relatively maintained ‘road’ that is used extensively for snowmobiling. This year, however, there is no snow, like at all, so we saw no signs of snow mobiles.  About 1 mile up the road brings you to a “Y” in the trail, and to the front porch of a hunters cabin hosted by a local rod and gun club. This is where decision making happens.


We hit Vly first. (It has a canister, and no views, so we figured finishing on a view would be a bit more enjoyable!)

You head to the right here, and find blue marks on the trees.. not trail markers, but spray paint, marking the private property and the state forest line.  These marks continue all the way to the summit, making this possibly the easiest bushwhack yet.  The first head wall on your way up Vly posed to be our biggest challenge of the day, given we hadn’t even put our trail crampons yet given the conditions on the road.  The conditions on the west side of Vly were quite different, and at the top of the first head wall the Hillsounds went on, and didn’t come off again until we were enjoying a little snack on the front porch of the hunters cabin, although many sections on the shoulders and true summit required no extra footwear at all.

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Other wise an uneventful climb, we did see some fresh scat on the trail up Vly, as well as some smaller prints. We had our summit Nine Pin hard cider, signed in  to the registry, and headed towards Bearpen.

The snow mobile trail up looked a little something like this.


We slapped our crampons on and were up it in no time.  We took off our spikes, and never put them on for the rest of the day! (we whacked on the edges of this trail on the return trip.) At the top of the second head wall a new trail breaks off to your right, with a “danger” sign hanging on a tree.. Take this trail, its not dangerous at all and saves you about .3 miles to the summit.  On this trail we met another couple that had missed it on their way up.. They thought maybe they were on the heard path, but we explained their mix up and they headed on to Vly under our recommendation!

We found the heard path no problem (it made more sense then the trail anyway) and summit-ted in no time at all!  We enjoyed out crispy treats, Dan found the summit cairn, and we took a few selfies, because that’s what we do!  We returned the way we came with very little excitement, and hit the road back to the car in no time flat! We did see what looked like a fresh cat print in some snow on the side of the road on the return that i definitely didn’t notice on the way up!

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About 3 1/2 hours total activity time.

We are now at    23/35   (with 4 required winters) 27/39 and  8/35winter peaks !


Mountain Specs: Bear Pen and Vly

Summit Elevation: Bear Pen 3598′   Vly 3530′

Trail: From Johnson Hollow (Rt. 3) in Halcott Center.  road walk to cabin (1 mile), property line to Vly (1.77) ; back to hunters cabin (2.6) , snow mobile trails/heard path to summit of Bear pen (4.11) Back to car (6.65)

Elevation Gain: 2148′

Summit Perk: Canister on Vly, Open field with sweeping northwestern views on Bear Pen, true summit cairn on Bear Pen.

Best summit sandwich: This time was a summit snack! Dan made some ABV butter, and I whipped up the fruity pebble mallow treat you see in the cover photo.. We waited until we summit ted Bear Pen to enjoy it! (once all the thinking was over!)

Post Hike Libation:  We would typically stop at Last Change Cheese and Antiques in Tannersville NY. But we actually high tailed it home for some take out and Netflix 🙂

Blackhead Mountain

The 5th tallest mountain in the Catskills, and my absolute favorite to climb, and to look at from any other vantage point that I can.   The Blackhead range, or as I like to affectionately call them my ladies, or the Three Sisters of the Catskills, sits on the northern end of the Catskill Escarpment.  I can see them from all angles on my commute to work.  They are the first thing you see as you enter the Catskill Park from the North, and they are basically what I dream about ever single night.


Blackdome from Blackhead:  March VS. December

It just so happens that climbing this mountain was the bookends of our 2015 hiking season.  Our first ascent was on March 29, technically a spring hike, was met with tons of ice and snow! Our second ascent, being Christmas day, was met with 60 degrees, sunny skies, and barely a lick of mud, more like summer hiking, then technically winter! (and this mountain must be hiked in once in the winter, and once in another season to obtain your 3500 status.


Our first time up, we took the trail to Lockwood Gap.  We summit-ed Blackhead, returned to the Gap(where I broke the zipper on my coat) and then summit-ed Blackdome. The trail up Blackhead from the Gap provided me with one of my hardest climbs to date.  The exposed rock face near the top was a sheet of ice, and required I pull my entire body up and over the rock, and ice, nearly taller than myself.  With help from my amazing hiking partner, we managed (after some tears) and I practice my first butt slide back down said steep part on the return!    We ran into less ice, and more slush heading up Blackhead, and again I got to practice some butt slides on the descent… This attempt however, resulted in a snapped hiking pole.


Steep section heading into Lockwood Gap from Blackhead.


Many article damaged, but nothing could dull the shine we felt after completing these mountains.  A glow of pride that I am sure resonates on my face every single time I catch a glimpse of this mountain range!

Our Christmas, or ‘winter’, summit of Blackhead posed to be a much different experience.  We took the Batavia Kill trail, past the lean to, and met with the Escarpment trail, to the summit of Blackhead.  This loop would bring us back via the Lockwood Gap. but allow us views to the river and Capital District that we hadn’t seen before! This route also boasts “extremely steep” sections, which are always fun….. 🙂


Picture perfect day in the Catskills

Warm, sunny, barely any mud, this hike was more like summer than even summer is in the Catskills.. and there were NO BUGS!  Talk about perfect! We met a few other hikers out, being the firsts in the lot, we thought we were alone! We took some time to decorate a tree on the ledge overlooking Blackdome, because, why not, it was Christmas (and don’t worry, we packed out everything!) Upon returning to the car we were met with about 15 more cars! So we weren’t the only ones taking advantage of possible the warmest Christmas in my life time!


Christmas on Blackhead!

Mountain Specs: Blackhead Mountain

Summit Elevation: 3940′

Trail: From the PA on the end of Big Hollow Rd. in Maplecrest. Red Tail markers : split trail; yellow to Batavia Kill Leanto, To BLue Escarpment trail to summit.  Yellow Blackhead trail to Lockwood Gap, Red Blackdome trail straigh to Blackdome , or right back to Big Hollow PA. (To create a loop hike)

Elevation Gain: 1740′

Summit Perk: Great views summit-ting from the Escarpment Trail.  Uninterrupted vies to Blackdome from lookout above Lockwood Gap. Great View to the south of the Devils Path from this same lookout.

Best summit sandwich: Packed in some Christmas leftovers, and of course our favorite celebration libation, Nine Pin !

Post Hike Libation:  Headed straight home to order Chinese take out (a new Christmas tradition!)

Thomas Cole

One the first day of winter hiking , December 21, 2014.  We embarked on our first journey in the Blackhead Range.  I fell in LOVE with these mountains that day (only to fall even more in love every. single. time I catch a glimpse of them!)

There are a number of ways to approach this 3 mountain range (all of which are in the 3500 club) as well as Camel’s Hump a lesser recognized, but just as beautiful a rise in elevation!

We started this climb from the west end, via Barnum Road.  This particular winter solstice was so snowy!  Much unlike today (as we haven’t seen a drop of snow yet this year!) December 2015 : the month of NO SNOW!


Our dream home at the head of the trail!

We heard a lot of birds, possibly large birds, flapping around in the lower elevations; a the fattest bunny hanging out under the most perfect Christmas tree on the summit of Camel’s Hump.  The round trip 5.2 miles trek climbs 2230′, however, there is just something about snow shoeing that takes a VERY LITTLE bit of the burning on the gains away! (JUST A LITTLE!)  The snow provides and nice pack , and a gradual grade, so you are climbing up a ramp, more or less.  Much easier than the typical rocky traverses you find in the Catskills!

There is one tricky steep/tight section on this hike, and with snow shoes its typically harder to navigate the tighter spaces.  Up is easier.. Down, is easiest, when you just pop the shoes off and butt slide as far as you can (also makes up tons of time!)


I’m happy! I promise!

This hike is pretty straight forward.  Its nearly impossible to find the small rock cairn that marks the true summit of Thomas Cole, so we were sure to hike until we lost some elevation.  Dropping into the col between TC and Black Dome would guarantee that we summit-ed!


Deep and draping snow above 3500′

Hoping to get back into the  Blackhead Range this weekend, if not definitely this winter. Four of the Catskill 3500’s must be climbed in the winter season, as well as any other time between march 21 and december 21. Blackhead, Balsam, Panther and Slide.  Wouldn’t it figure we summit-ed Blackhead March 29th last year, a few days shy of ‘winter hiking’ proper, but we sure did encounter winter conditions.   This year, if we can get to the BH range this weekend, we may experience that summit with sunshine, and dry ground! Go  Figure!


Camel’s Hump on the left , as seen from Thomas Cole

Mountain Specs: Thomas Cole Mountain

Summit Elevation: 3940′

Trail: Red trail from parking lot on Barnum Road. 5.2 miles RT

Elevation Gain: 2230′

Summit Perk: Views to TC from Camel’s Hump, and vice versa. Beautiful winter hike! (probably much less views in the foliage seasons.)

Best summit sandwich: Packing in a good snack on winter hikes is important. So is booze! Lots of booze!

Post Hike Libation:  This northern most range of the Catskills limits the towns you encounter while entering and exiting.  We usually high tail it home for some Vietnamese Take out from Van’s.

Cascade and Porter

Our firsts of the ADK 46ers!  We chose a perfect fall day, and got there early enough to only have to walk about 1/3 of a mile to the trail head!


Cascade (Left, Rocky open summit) and Porter (Right, ‘wooded’ summit)

An FYI to those who haven’t hiked in the ADK High Peaks region: parking is a nightmare.  Park legally, don’t park like a jerk!

It’s great to be able to tag two peaks in one hike! C & P are a pair of the easiest in the high peaks, in not only the hike itself but access to the hiking.  For most of the peaks you will be putting miles, MILES on your feet! These two – round trip from 73 in Keene Valley, is 6.2 miles, with  1940′ in gain.

We signed in and started the gradual climb.  You will never be alone on these mountains, that’s for sure.  The first 2.1 miles to the junction with the trail to Porter are a nice gradual hike, where you will inevitably pass many people.  We decided to hit Porter first, as Cascade offers the better 360′ view!


Looking towards the High Peaks, The Great Range, from Porter

You have to descend a small col and then climb your way to Porter, where the true summit is sometimes overlooked because of  a large rock you pass when you are oh so close. You have to work around the large boulder, and you will find a clear-ish summit, where you get great views of Cascade, as well as a semi-cleared view into the Great Range, and the High Peak region.

The repeat back to the junction, we then climb the .3 to the summit of Cascade. (Again, you are NEVER alone).  This summit offers the best of views!  You can see everything from Whiteface, Lake Placid, the High Peaks, and Porter, where you just were!



This classic pair will be hiked again and again by us, as a great way to practice all season hiking in the HP terrain.


2/46 High Peaks Completed.

Mountain Specs: Cascade and Porter

Summit Elevation: 4098′ and 4068′

Trail: Red trail from Rt 73 in Keene Valley –  Spur Trail to Porter   6.2 miles round trip

Elevation Gain: roughly 1940′

Summit Perk: Bagging a 46er (or 2), expansive views from Cascade, muddly col to Porter.

Best summit sandwich: Simply Gourmet west of Lake Placid Village : They have a menu of 46 sammies named after the High Peaks!

Post Hike Libation:  Head back west to Lake Placid and take a dip at the public beach. Then head over to Liquids and Solids for a great, gastro style meal, with fancy drinks to boot!

Hunter Mountain

We have now hiked Hunter Mountain (not only a firetower, but the second highest Catskill Peak) twice, and I cannot imagine we wont do it a handful more times!

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Trail on the Summit!

There are multiple ways to reach the summit and tower of this 4040′ mountain. We have approached from the east, the Becker Hollow trail on rt 214 just north of the Devil’s Tombstone, as well as the Devils path from Diamond Notch Falls, via Spruceton road.

The ascent up the Becker Hollow trail is short, and steep! The blue markers take you 2 miles, and up 2000′ in no time! Some claim this is the hardest trail in all the Catskills… I’ve hiked a large number of trails, this isn’t that hard 🙂 !


View of the Black Head Range from the tower

There is an option to take a yellow spur trail after the hard climb which will bring you to a spring, running if you are lucky! Great spot to refill after that climb!

We also approached from the red blazed Devil’s Path from the west via Spruceton Road/ Diamond Notch Falls. This ascent also is rather steep, and rocky, but offers a nice view into the notch, as well as herd path access to SW Hunter Mountain, also known as Levitt Peak.

Approaching the tower from this western route includes 2200′  in gain, and while the loop does create a longer hike (nearly 8 miles) you do not have to descend the steep rocky Devils Path. The old jeep road take you back to Spruceton Rd by way of the Colonels Chair trail, and is much easier going on your tootsies!

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Dan on the summit “elevation rock”

Mountain Specs: Hunter Mountain

Summit Elevation: 4040′

Trail: Becker Hollow:  blue blazes, 2.2 miles / 5.4 miles

Devils Path from Diamond Notch (Loop): red blazes to Spruceton Jeep rd. 7.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 2200′ not matter which way you approach!

Summit Perk: Fire tower, cabin with informational maps, multiple access routes, stunning views!

Best summit sandwich: Either way you cut it, you are due a snack when you hit this summit!  BYO picnic. The large open summit has a picnic table, and a cool elevation rock with a carving!

Post Hike Libation:  Last Chance Antiques & Cheese Cafe in Tannersville, NY.   One Hundred times YES YES YES !!

Plateau Mountain

We decided to take advantage of unseasonable November temperatures, and tackle another Catskill 3500 that has been on my immediate to do list.  There are three main routes to summit this treed in 3840′ peak. While the weather had been unseasonably warm in the valleys, always remember that as you gain elevation you will decrease in temperature!  I was thrilled to see my first snow fall, and small accumulations on this trail!

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We approached from the southwest side, via the Warner Brook Trail, in conjunction with the Long Path. You access this from Notch Inn Rd, off of Route 214 – south of the Devils Tombstone. Be sure to park before the “privately maintained road” signs, as rumor has if you could get towed or ticketed.. You climb up the maintained road, towards a beautiful slate colored mansion, that I imagine is stayed in 3 times a year, and at the top of this road you will branch off to the left.  This Yellow Trail, will wind you up a tributary to the Stony Clove Creek you crossed over on the road. At .7 miles you will come to the junction with the trail which will take you up the Daley Ridge, and to the Devil’s Path, and Plateau Mountain. (take a left)


The Blue trail (also the Long path) provides many switch backs for the first 1300′ in gain that it doesn’t feel like you are working, too hard. Hiking this with no leaves left on the trees afforded us countless views along the ridge walk, however, the 6″+ of fallen leaves on the rocky trail can be extremely challenging, and ankle busting.. I didn’t like that challenge, and am willing to hang up my hiking shoes until we have full snow cover!

Once you hit the 3500′ sign, you get a nice steep climb to the best of the view points along the Daley ridge, and you are pretty much as high as you are going to get! The junction with the Devil’s Path is clearly marked, and the ridge walk to the summit of Plateau is a nice stroll through the “Dark Woods” with little elevation change!


The “Dark Woods” along the summit ridge

Many people think the summit of this mountain is on the western edge of the ridge, where the northern views are exposed.  However, this is not true,  the actual summit is the eastern edge of the plateau, where a 90 degree turn sends you north.  It is at this corner where you will find the highest elevation point.

Summit Snacks!

Summit Snacks!

The return hike was rather uneventful, trying to stay warm wasn’t too much of a challenge as we were lucky to be walking into the sun! We spent some time enjoying the southerly view towards the Ashokan Reservoir from a view point, and naturally enjoyed a Nine Pin while we relaxed in the fading sun!

View from the top of Daley Ridge, looking south.

View from the top of Daley Ridge, looking south.

Enjoying a Nine Pin on Daley Ridge, looking back at Plateau's Summit

Enjoying a Nine Pin on Daley Ridge, looking back at Plateau’s Summit

Getting back to the car with day light to spare is my favorite favorite thing!


This hike brings us to 20/39 for our Catskill 35ers- Officially over halfway done… Now, we wait for the snow to fly!


Mountain Specs: Plateau Mountain

Summit Elevation: 3856′

Trail: Warner Brook to Devil’s Path from Notch Inn Rd. 4.2 miles / 8.4 miles round trip (Yellow to Blue to Red)

Elevation Gain: 2278′

Summit Perk: Not many on the actual summit.  There are plenty of views en route, and if you continue towards Sugarloaf (with some elevation loss) and if you hit the western summit of Plateau you can get some northern views!

Best summit sandwich: We packed in veggies, crackers and pesto.  My favorite flavor of Cliff Bar, and Nine Pins of course.

Post Hike Libation:  Last Chance Antiques & Cheese Cafe in Tannersville, NY.   My go to after anything within reasonable, or not so reasonable driving distance. Their french onion soup is TO DIE FOR, as well as every other thing on their menu.

French Onion Soup at the Last Chance.

French Onion Soup at the Last Chance.

Thacher Park

Thacher State Park, is about a half hours drive west from Albany to the Helderberg Highlands.  There are a couple of ways to get there, and tons of trails to walk once you get there.   We are partial to the Indian Ladder trail (as are many many others) for its awesome view, and, if you are lucky, and its wet enough, its couple of waterfalls.

We try to get out and hike around here as often as possible, tho the Ladder trail is only open seasonally, typically from May 1 – Nov 15, weather depending.

If you park at the main parking area coming into the park from the south, you are welcomed by one of the best views in the whole park, which would make you think, why walk around? But the 2 mile loop (turquoise trail markers heading north out of the parking lot) down the Indian Ladder Trail and back offers the same extended views, a little elevation gain and loss via metal ladders, and the occasional treat of the waterfalls!

November 2015

November 2015

June 2013

June 2013

Main fall : June 2013

Main fall : June 2013

Behind the main fall : November 2015

Behind the main fall : November 2015

Specs: Thacher State Park

Summit Elevation: 1100’+

Trail: Indian Ladder Trail from the Main Parking Lot

Elevation Gain/Loss: You drop approximately 60′ down the cliff side via the metal stairs.

Summit Perk: Beautiful panorama views of Albany, the surrounding suburbs, and even long distance views to the Taconic Range, and Mt. Equinox in Vermont.

Best summit sandwich: This is the perfect BYO anything, as they have tons of picnicking areas with grills and fire pits.

Post Hike Libation:  We love Swifty’s in Delmar, and it doesn’t hurt that we HAVE to drive by on our way home!

Alander Mountain

We didn’t really know how great a hike this was going to be when we set out on it.  We first hiked up and around Bash Bish Falls, hoping the jump on the South Taconic Trail to hit Alander in one loop… However, a pretty serious stream crossing on the top of Bash Bish made for alternate plans.  We returned to the car (parked on the NY side) and drove over to the Mount Washington State Park and used the Alander Mountain trail to summit the Columbia County High Point!

With only about 1000′ feet in gain over the 4 miles to the summit you never have to work too hard and the surrounding forest is so beautiful, its worth the walk alone.  Nearing the summit you will come across the Hunters Cabin that is open to the public, and used by day hikers and thru hikers just the same!   There are signs of good parties, and restful nights, and many carved initials complete the cabins decor.  We hope to return and spend a night here, day hiking the surrounding county high peaks!

View from summit of Alander looking towards Mt. Frissel

View from summit of Alander looking towards Mt. Frissel


Dan taking in the view over Southern Columbia County

The Cabin near the Summit.

The Cabin near the Summit.

Mountain Specs: Alander Mountain

Summit Elevation: 2239′

Trail: Alander Mountain Trail from the Mt Washington State Forest – 4 miles one way / 8 miles round trip

Elevation Gain: 1000′

Summit Perk: NY/MA boarder stone, highest point in Columbia County, original home to what is now the Beebe Hill Fire Tower

Best summit sandwich: Church St. Deli & Pizza in Copake

Post Hike Libation:  Haven’t tried it yet, but the Taconic Wayside Inn on the NY side of Bash Bish is on the MUST try list!