Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Catskills 3500: Kaaterskill High Peak

It's no secret that I love the Adirondacks.  Each time I do a hike up north, I find more reasons to appreciate this awesome state park (which is also the largest park in the lower 48)  Yup, It's larger than of Yellowstone,YosemiteGrand CanyonGlacier, and Great Smoky Mountains combined. With my current obsession with exploring the park via the High Peaks, it's easy to forget that New York State is actually blessed with the Catskill mountain region just south of Albany.  While I've always known there were mountains down south  (the same Catskill region that is in Dirty Dancing.) I've never done any hiking there, I've always gone north to the Adirondack Park.

Last winter, my uncle mentioned to me that there was a high peak list in the Catskills - the 3500 Club.  Similar to the 46ers, there is a list of the 35 peaks in the Catskill region that are above 3500 feet.  In addition to hiking all of these peaks, the 3500 club requires an aspiring member to climb 4 additional mountains during the winter months.  Once I heard about this, I added it to the bucket list with hopes to tackle a decent chunk of the peaks this year.  Unfortunately, my goals were way too lofty as I don't know how I thought I'd find the time to hike 13 ADK peaks, 13 Catskill peaks, run 13 races, and well, sleep.  

I hadn't found my way south primary because I just don't know my way around. I know the ADK park quite well at this point and it's easier for me to find hikes to complete.  Thankfully my uncle is already a 3500 club member (most likely both "regular" and winter.) and was itching to get out on a trail after spending most of his summer preparing his home for selling. 

We set out to do Kaaterskill High Peak.  I drove out to my uncle's in schoharie county to meet up with him and their two dogs who would also be joining us on the hike.  It was about an hour drive to the trail head, as we passed by Hunter Mountain and a few other cute towns.  There were a handful of cars in the lot, but no one had logged into the book for the day. I put on my boots, tightened up my pack and we headed onto the trail.

There was a lot more mud on the trails than I've seen up north, but we were also hit with some impressive storms the day before.  The trail follows the snowmobile trail, but doesn't actually have any signage that Kaaterskill High Peak exist, let alone is on this trail.  If I hadn't been with my uncle, I would have been very uncertain about where I was. ( I still sort of was)
we think this side trail goes to one of the plane wrecks that are found on the mountain.
The hike has a pretty steady incline, but it is quite gradual for the first few miles.  I didn't realize how much we had climbed until we were descending and I was trying to avoid slipping.  There are a lot of rocks in the Catskills, lots of rocks.  And this moist humid air we've had had made them very slippery.

After a ways, we came upon a junction, that continued to not indicate that Kaaterskill was around.  We followed the snowmobile trail and kept on.  Eventually we hit a large junction with lots of signs indicating that there trails, but not specifying where they go.  We kept to the right until we reached a cairn and then veered left to begin our final ascent.  This is where it got quite steep, there was a lot of scrambling bordering on mild bouldering for me but it seemed to go fairly quickly and the dogs (both small) only needed to be lifted twice.

wreckage from another plane crash 
I can't seem to pass a bench marker without taking a photo.

The summit is completely wooded, but we continued along the trail to the right until we reached a nice overlook. Here we relaxed ate some lunch and enjoyed listening to the distant thunder.

Charlie back in action after his ACL surgery.

After an appropriate length break, we began the climb down.  It was slick.  I've seemed to finally catch some speed while ascending mountains, but I am still rather slow trying to get back down them. We had thought about taking the side trail to see the plane wreck, but the constant thunder in the distance kept us on the main trail so we could get out of the woods safely.

a worn out muddy dog.  signs of a successful day.

There was a lot of mud, a few very unfortunate encounters with stinging nettle but a wonderful afternoon.  After talking about it for 8 months, I've finally made my way down to the Catskills! 

Kaaterskill High Peak
Elevation: 3655
Ranked: 22/35
Miles RT: 8.5
Gear used: Asolo Women's boots, Kids Smartwool Medium Socks,Oiselle Long Roga Shorts, Fila tanktop, Deuter Women's Pack


  1. Holy cow, those are some gorgeous views! Congrats on such an amazing hike. I really wish there were more opportunities for hiking in Chicago!

  2. I have never heard of the Catskill 3500, but I will need to look into that. I haven't been hiking in years, and was looking at maybe doing one or two easy ones this fall. Thanks for the inspiration!