On Monday, we decided on a moderate 7.2 mile hike, the Catskill Escarpment Loop. We drove from Saugerties into Haines Falls, turning right onto North Lake Road and then right onto Schutt Road, parking at GPS coordinates 42.20105/-74.05807.
We crossed to the other side of Schutt Road and followed the blue-blazed Escarpment Trail south.
This part of the hike was flat and easy.
I found a stone wall, the only one I would note that day:
After about a mile, we reached a four-way junction and left the blue-blazed trail, continuing on the red-blazed Schutt Road Trail, which followed an old carriage road:
The red-blazed trail gradually made a turn from south to southeast to east.
A fallen tree resting on a boulder:
After another mile, we reached another intersection with the blue-blazed Escarpment Trail, which we rejoined.
After another 1/2 mile, we reached a junction whereby the blue-blazed path detoured to the right, while a red-blazed path continued as a shortcut ahead. We turned right onto the longer blue-blazed path, which shouldn’t be missed.
First, this short detour took us to Split Rock, a fissure in the rock:
Soon after, we reached the area around Boulder Rock, which includes an open rock ledge with beautiful views over the Hudson River Valley:
Kaaterskill High Peak, a prominent peak in the range, can be seen in this panorama, with Round Top partially hidden by foliage to the right:
Panorama from ledge at Boulder Rock:
I couldn’t resist the temptation to climb Boulder Rock.
I stood on the top for a couple of seconds, but the top was sloped, and I didn’t want to risk losing my balance, so I decided to sit down and enjoy the view:
We left Boulder Rock and continued on the blue-blazed trail, which soon reached the second junction with the red-blazed shortcut. We were glad not to have taken the shortcut, as we would have missed Boulder Rock and some nice views.
We continued on the blue-blazed trail, traveling northeast, and soon reached another open rock ledge with great views of the Hudson River Valley:
I stayed about six feet behind the edge:
We continued on, enjoying a wooded area with rock walls:
We soon exited the woods to an open grass lawn, the site of the famous Catskill Mountain House, visited by U.S. Presidents and other rich and famous people in the 19th Century:
A plaque provides a history of the hotel:
We continued our counterclockwise loop, as the blue-blazed Escarpment trail now curved to the north. We reached a parking area for the beach at North/South Lake, and continued across the parking lot and reentered the woods, hiking through an area that included a number of picnic spots.
We passed two nice stands of Mountain Laurel on the hike, this being one of them:
Batya hiked past a horizontal tree barely clinging to life:
We passed Artist’s Rock, an east-facing rock ledge providing panoramic views, but didn’t stop, as the ledge was crowded with other hikers.
The trail ascended steeply, and there were a few places where a hiker would have to use a hand to assist his scramble up a few rocks. We followed a rock outcrop:
We then detoured onto a short yellow-blazed trail on the right which led to Lookout Rock, providing a beautiful view to the east:
After 0.2 miles, the yellow-blazed trail ended at Sunset Rock, which provided a beautiful view to the west of North/South Lake, and of Kaaterskill High Peak and Round Top behind the lake:
A panoramic view:
We followed the yellow-blazed trail back to the Escarpment Trail, and continued to the north, climbing briefly through a rocky wooded area:
We reached Newman’s Ledge, providing a beautiful panoramic view of the Hudson Valley:
The Escarpment Trail continued, ascending slightly in places.
We reached Badman’s Cave, an overhanging rock, and Batya invited me to hike up there, though she didn’t want to do so herself. I declined, in part because there was a large and loud group of people there. This was unfortunately not one of our hikes conducted in solitude, and while most of the hikers were quiet enough, there were a few loud ones. In places, we tried to outpace the loud hikers, which didn’t work, so we let them pass us. After we left Badman’s Cave, we departed from the blue-blazed Escarpment Trail, turning onto the yellow-blazed Rock Shelter Trail, which took us on a southwest heading. The loud group from Badman’s Cave quickly overtook us and passed us, and was perhaps a family unit, though with a teenaged boy holding a boombox that was playing something like “Teenage Wasteland.” We were glad to see them speed off ahead of us.
The Rock Shelter Trail passed over a rocky area, so it was a little slow going.
A chipmunk posed for a photo:
Puncheon through a wet area:
The Rock Shelter Trail ended on North Lake Road, and we turned right onto Schutt Road and returned to the parking lot where we left the car.
Other than the occasional noisy hiker, this was an enjoyable 7.2 mile hike without much elevation change, ranked moderate only because of its length and because of a few very short scrambles. As noted, the hike featured many beautiful features and scenic views.