2015-07-22 / Take a Hike / Sports / Events

Take a Hike

Ashokan High Point hike worth the walk
By Will Soter

The first section of the hike follows along abandoned Freeman Avery Road and climbs gradually for two and-seventenths miles, following the Kanape Brook for most of the way. This old road served as a short cut through the mountains for Native Americans and early European settlers. As the land around it slowly changed hands and eventually became part of the forest preserve, there was no longer a need to connect the roads on either side. In the 1930s the Civilian Conservation Crop updated the old road for use as a fire road and it has seen little more than recreational attention since that point.

The Kanape Brook is named for John Jones Canape, one of the first of many European farmers to settle the area. This area is rich in history and folklore and to the keen eye shows many layers of human activity. Getting started

The hike starts at the Kanape Brook parking area on county Route 42. You will walk left out of the parking lot and soon cross the road turning right onto the red-blazed Ashokan High Point trail. Entering a grassy area, a hearty new bridge spans the Kanape Brook. This grassy area was burned over repeatedly by “berry pickers” during the late 1800s in an effort to encourage strong and prolific berry crops.

From here the forest soon shifts to a blend of northern hardwoods. Keep an eye out for man- made stone structures. Throughout the various centuries the stone along this trail has served many purposes, from marking areas of cultural significance, to more utilitarian uses such as a culverts, retaining walls, a spring box, evidence of its use is scattered throughout this hike. There is even a legend of a hermit that called a cave on this mountain home, and that then General George Washington spent a night in the hermit’s abode while planning and scouting for the Revolution. I don’t know how much weight I would give to this story as the only references I can find all seem to stem from Dewitt Clinton Overbaugh’s book the “Hermit of the Catskills.” Let your mind wander

Regardless of whether this is history or folklore, one can easily find their imagination wandering deep into the past as you discover the clues from those who once lived along, and traveled this old road. About one and-seven-tenths miles in, the forest will shift to evergreens. I generally like to take a rest here and enjoy the shade provided by this enchanting forest. At the two and-seventh-tenths mile mark, the road will continue to the southeast and a junction will appear on your left. This junction will bring you to the summit of High Point. Up to this point the hike has been relatively easy. This will change as you turn to approach the summit and the trail will become noticeably steeper. Shortly after the junction where you depart from the road, the trail will reach a fork. I recommend staying to the right. As you climb, small herd paths will appear to the right. The views are mostly obstructed when the leaves are on the trees, however the view behind you is worth looking at!

The last half mile or so the topography begins to resemble a set of terraces with steep climbs followed by level sections. At three and-seventh-tenths miles you will reach the summit, a large rock with breathtaking views to the south and east. You can clearly see the Shawangunks and the distinct Sky Top Tower at Mohonk Mountain House. With a clear sky you can see down the Hudson Valley to the Hudson Highlands, and through the trees you can gaze down upon the Ashokan Reservoir, which High Point stands guard over. Turn it around

To return, either retrace your steps, this route is shorter than completing the loop around the summit. The total mileage for the route is seven and-six-tenths miles and climbs 1,930 feet with the majority of the climb, 1,000 feet, in the last mile. If you choose to complete the loop around the summit you will add another one and-six-tenths miles, and steep section with uneasy footing to your journey, now totaling nine and-twotenths miles.

Driving directions: From Phoenicia and points west, turn right onto Route. 28A if you are coming from Olive or points east this will be a left. Follow 28A for three miles and then turn right on county Route 42. The parking area is four andone tenths miles on the right.

Will Soter is the co-founder and lead guide of Upstate Adventure Guides, LLC. Learn more about hiking the Catskills at his website: upstateadventureguides.com.

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