Monday, April 28, 2014


The mellow hike up to Burnt Knob (3180 ft.) on the northern part of the Escarpment Trail is one of the nicest outings in the Catskills, with three fine viewpoints, each with a unique perspective on the landscape. We had a beautiful warm, sunny spring day in store for us, and I could think of no better place to spend it.

We started from the trailhead at the end of Big Hollow Road and headed up the north side of the Black Dome Range Trail. After crossing Batavia Kill on a bridge, we crossed a tributary on these neat flat stepstones.

The trail makes a mellow climb up to the Escarpment Trail ridge.

Weathered signs at the junction with the Escarpment Trail.

The Escarpment Trail climbs steeply for a while towards Burnt Knob.

There are several dramatic switchbacks along the edge of the ridge.

A partial view out over the Hudson valley.

Looking south to Acra Point, another 3000-ft. peak on the Escarpment Trail.

The first of the Burnt Knob viewpoints is a fine ledge looking across the head of the Black Dome Valley to the Blackhead Range.

Left to right are Blackhead, Black Dome and Thomas Cole Mountains, all over 3900 ft.

Blackhead Mountain, with the flat-topped peak known as Arizona behind on the L. Snow still visible on the north-facing slope.

A half-mile north along the Escarpment Trail is the next viewpoint, with a wide sweep across the Hudson valley. In the distance we could see Mt. Equinox in Vermont and Mt. Greylock in Massachusetts.

Great ridge walking through the open hardwood forest.

The third viewpoint, on a bump between Burnt Knob and Windham High Peak, has a terrific view to the SW.

Looking across the lower Black Dome Valley to the Lexington Range and more distant peaks, including West Kill Mountain peering over on the left.

Windham High Peak, one of the Catskill 3500, looms close by to the NW.

We spent well over an hour here lounging in the warm spring sun. No hurry - we're on vacation!

Cool ledge along the trail on the way back.

On the return trip I did a short bushwhack traverse over the trailless true summit of Burnt Knob. This is one of the Catskill 100 Highest Peaks that are covered in Alan Via's wonderful guidebook, The Catskill 67.

A little natural meadow on the way across the ridge.

We took another break back at the Blackhead Range view ledge.

On the way down off the ridge I made a short whack down to the beautiful mossy tributary.

Nice hemlock forest on the lower part of the trail.

We'd spent the whole day in the Windham Blackhead Range Wilderness - part of the "forever wild" Forest Preserve.