North Mountain Trail, Catskill Mountains
On our way from Rachel’s to our next visit we stopped for a hike in the Catskill region. The Catskills are a smaller, distinct mountain range located south of the Adirondacks that are thickly forested and very rocky. Growing up about an hour south of the mountains I frequently heard the adage that for every handful of dirt you’d get two rocks, and our hike did nothing to persuade me that that statement wasn’t based on fact: We both felt we did as much rock hopping as hiking on dirt.
We randomly decided to do the North Mountain Ledge Trail by Hunter Mountain which I knew to be a really pretty area, and we weren’t disappointed. The trail was a 6-ish mile partial loop that followed rocky stream beds through the loamy forest until it began a series of ascents up to the ledge. We had a constricted view from the first overlook where we decided to stop for a fruit break, but the real vistas lay ahead at the top of the mountain, 850 feet up from the trailhead. We walked around the rim of the escarpment once we reached the top, getting different viewpoints across the blue Hudson Valley and contributing a dog to a family portrait. I had read that even better views less than a half mile from where the trail summited however so we eventually continued on even though we had both decided not to continue hiking all the way to Stoppel Point.
On our descent we unconsciously chose the spur that sort of looped back to the correct road… but not our trailhead. This is just a nice way of saying that we lost the trail again. This spur passed Ashley Falls which were completely dry – which was expected since it was August – but we did get to cross a cute rustic bridge and get to see more of the super-green forest. It was a gorgeous and relaxing day, the only downside being that I forgot my camera. Thankfully Tom lent me his phone, but honestly the views from the top were better than I could have captured with my camera anyway so it ended up not mattering a bit.