Tuesday, April 30, 2013


We wanted to take it easy today, and decided to explore a new area in the central Catskills - Alder Lake, which I had read about in several guidebooks. It was a long drive out past the Pepacton Reservoir and over typical steep, winding, paved Catskill back roads, but it proved to be more than worth it.

We stopped briefly on Barkaboom Road to take in the view of Big Pond and Barkaboom Mountain.

Sign at the trailhead.

This property was once the estate and private fishing preserve of railroad magnate Samuel Coykendall.

We liked this spot immediately.

The Alder Lake Loop Trail makes an easy and pleasant 1.6 mile circuit around the lake.

On the south side it's a bit away from the water on an old woods road.

Alder Creek, just before it flows into the lake.

I headed about a mile eastward up the Mill Brook Ridge Trail while Carol completed the loop around the lake and embarked on a second loop.

Beautiful hardwood walking on Mill Brook Ridge Trail.

Spring beauties were in bloom.

My objective was the first of several beaver meadows along Alder Creek, about a mile from Alder Lake. (The second meadow, a half-mile farther, is the site of a lean-to.)

Tucked in the valley between Mill Brook Ridge and Cradle Rock Ridge, this was one of the loveliest and most peaceful spots I've ever seen in the Catskills, or anywhere, for that matter.

The spot where the stream exits the meadow.

Springtime, and the livin' is easy.

After a nice break in the dry grass, I meandered along the edge of the meadow and back to the trail.

A bit farther east was evidence of more recent beaver activity.

I strolled back to the Alder Lake Loop Trail, met Carol back at the junction, and accompanied her on her second pass along the north shore, where there were many views across the water to Cradle Rock Ridge.

What a great trail! The only people we saw were a handful of fishermen.

The lake was a sparkling blue in the afternoon sun, as viewed from the field at the west end.

The remnants of Samuel Coykendall's mansion. The full building stood here until a few years ago, when the state razed it despite efforts by a volunteer group to have it restored.

This was a hard place to leave. We eventually broke away and made the long drive to Woodstock, where we walked around that hip and fascinating town and dropped a few bucks in the local bookstore.

On the way back to Hunter we drove through Stony Clove and stopped for a look at Notch Lake, nestled in the depths of the pass. Another great day in the Catskills!


  1. Your descriptions of the are tantalizing, and your excellent photos brought back memories. This area is very reminiscent of places Cheri and I would visit many years ago when we lived in Norwich, NY, which is only about 70 miles (as the crow flies) from the Alder Lake area.

    Very nice report, Steve!


    1. Thanks, John - we should make a road trip down there sometime. The whacking is fantastic!