2016-06-01 / Take a Hike

Take a Hike

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The Escarpment Loop (from Schutt Rd.)
By Will Soter

There are a multitude of hikes that can be taken from the Schutt Road Trailhead. I will focus on the Schutt Road, Escarpment Loop.

From the parking area on Schutt Road you will cross the road and begin hiking south on the blue blazed Escarpment Trail. At fourtenths of a mile you will cross an old railroad bed. If you turned left (east) this would take you into North South Lake State Campground. This is an interesting trip in itself, but we will focus our attention on this loop. At half-a-mile from the parking area the trail will come to a junction. We will bear left to take the red blazed Schutt Road Trail. This trail is also an equestrian riding path, so please be aware and remember to share the trail. After a quarter-of-a mile the trail will split again. You will remain on the red blazed Schutt Trail. This trail will continue on for three-quarters-of-a mile more before reaching a junction with the blue blazed Escarpment Trail.

AKA the Long Path

This section of the Escarpment Trail is also part of the Long Path. Just to the north of the junction lies this former site of the Katterskill Hotel, one of the great mountain houses of the Catskills. Over the course of the next half-a-mile, the trail will gradually make its way down to a junction with the Harding Road Trail. We will stay right on the blue blazed Escarpment Trail.

Very quickly (about one-tenth of a mile) there will be another junction. At this junction those on horseback will bare right and begin their loop back to Schutt Road trail, on the yellow blazed riding trail. The riding trail will pass by a designated primitive campsite just before rejoining the Schutt Road Trail.

Kaaterskill Clove starts

For those continuing on foot, the walk along the top of Kaaterskill Clove begins. At three-quarters of a mile from the junction you will reach Inspiration Point. There are expansive views looking across the clove towards Katterskill High Peak and Round Top. The wide-open rock ledge has numerous inscriptions carved into it. Some from the Mountain House era, over 100 years ago, and some more recent. Please resist the temptation to add anything. What was once thought of as a novel way to leave your mark, can now earn you a well-deserved fine.

Sunset Rock viewpoint

The next viewpoint is Sunset Rock, and as the name implies, it has a remarkable view to the west. As the trail works its course northwest along the top of the cliff you will pass numerous views with sweeping vistas to the south and west. At one and one-tenth mile from the junction with the riding path, there will be a junction to rejoin the riding path on a yellow blazed spur trail. This route forms a loop that is three-quarters of a mile shorter, and it climbs gradually to merge with the Schutt Road Trail.

However, taking this short cut you will miss the last four view points, including Layman’s Monument. The monument is a stone structure with a bronze plaque dedicated to Frank Layman, who perished while battling a stubborn forest fire in August of 1900. The view to the west of the monument continues deep into the Catskills. Hunter Mountain can be seen from the ledge. From here the trail will climb steadily at first, before leveling out. As the trail nears the final junction with the Schutt Road Trail it will come right along the headwaters of the Kaaterskill Creek. You may find various herd paths leading down, or along the water. Avoid these trails and remain on the marked path. At the junction, turn left on to the red blazed Schutt Trail and return to your car.

Driving Directions

Take the New York State Thruway to Exit 20 (Saugerties). Beyond the tollbooths, turn left at the traffic light, cross over the Thruway, and then turn right onto Route 32 North. Follow Route 32 for six-tenths of a mile, then continue ahead on Route 32A. In one and nine-tenths miles, turn left onto Route 23A and follow it up Kaaterskill Clove. At the top of the climb, in the Village of Haines Falls, turn right onto North Lake Road. In two and one-tenths miles (just before reaching the entrance to the North/South Lake Campground), turn right onto Schutt Road and follow it for 200 feet to a parking area 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. Previously published Take A Hike columns are available at catskillmountainnews.com under the Sports Menu.

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