2015-08-19 / Take a Hike

Kelly Hollow Loop in Millbrook is interesting and family friendly

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Take a Hike

This is possibly one of the most interesting and scenic short hikes in the Catskills. The picturesque scenery will greet you even before you arrive as you travel up over the mountain, along side streams, down through the valley lined with pastures and surrounded by mountain walls and finally up the winding country road to our destination.

The hike can be done in a variety of ways, I recommend traversing the entire big loop (four miles) to see all that the wonderful area has to offer. The Kelly Hollow Trail offers an unusual forest, a mix of both man’s and nature’s efforts to reclaim the old hillside pastures. Follow old woods road

From the eastern parking area we will follow a footpath to the base of an old woods road. You will follow this old road, now blazed with yellow cross-country ski trail markers. Soon the trail enters a grove of Norway spruce planted by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s. This magical forest looks like something from a storybook with a towering spruce grove that catches the light just right. The old road also parallels a stream on the right. The gentle grade of the old woods road makes this trip a perfect place for hikers of all ages. The gentle grade also makes this trail ideal for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing and this is why the trail is one of the few marked as recommend for skiing by the DEC.

Gradually the trees change to an open deciduous forest, and at about one and-a-quarter miles in the trail will make a 180 degree switchback to avoid climbing a shoulder of Millbrook Ridge. At this point the trail resembles a traditional footpath and narrows a bit. As the trail winds back north around the shoulder, you will get a hint of the great view from the shore of pond. Abundant wildflowers

A wide variety of wildflowers are sprinkled across the forest to welcome you along your hike and they are especially plentiful in the spring. Wildlife is also very plentiful, especially birds. If you are quiet enough you may have the pleasure of encountering turkeys, eagles, or a variety of woodpeckers.

Continuing on to the top of the loop you will find a unique sight, a beaver pond just bellow the ridge. The pond was dammed by the CCC. However, as the years went on, beaver took advantage of the new habitat that was created for them, and added their own fortifications to the dam. Here we will also find one of the many Catskills lean-to shelters. This shelter, with its picnic table, provides a nice place to take a rest and enjoy lunch. From here you will continue around the pond and down the west side of the loop back through the forest to the spruce grove, ending up in the western parking area as you cross the stream. From here it is a short one-quarter mile walk along Millbrook Road to the parking area.

If you wish to cut the road walk out, simply take the junction for the short loop. This junction appears on the right about a half-mile after you round the western shore of the pond. The short loop trail hooks back east paralleling the top of the loop, and for a bit the stream that flows from the pond. Eventually the stream continues down hill, and you cross another tributary before rejoining the eastern leg of the loop on your way back to your car. Directions

To get there from Route 28, turn on to Dry Brook Road in Arkville and follow it for six and-a-half miles. Then turn right on Millbrook Road following it for roughly eight andthree quarters miles. You will see a sign on the left for the Kelly Hollow trailhead.

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. Previously published Take A Hike columns are available at catskillmountainnews.com under the Sports Menu.

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