CATSKILLS - COLGATE LAKE TRAIL/EAST KILL VALLEY: 4/22/14
With rain forecast for the afternoon, I decided to go out for a lowland morning walk on the Colgate Lake Trail in the broad East Kill valley on the south side of the Blackhead Range. Carol and I had gone 2.5 mi. in on this trail to a scenic beaver meadow a few years ago, but had turned back when we encountered lingering rotten snow. I wanted to return to that spot and continue farther up the valley to more meadows, one at the site of an old settlement, and a small waterfall on the East Kill. Carol decided to take a day off from hiking, so this would be a solo ramble.
The expansive fields along the first part of the Colgate Lake Trail offer fine mountain views, especially of the Blackhead Range as seen here.
A close-up of Blackhead Mountain and its south spur, which I had bushwhacked up in rain and snow back in 2007, as recounted here.
The flat crest of the summit called Arizona.
Off to the left, Black Dome and Thomas Cole Mountains.
The Colgate Lake Trail has easy grades, though there was some wet footing, as would be expected in April.
Some unexpected sun illuminated the beaver meadow 2.5 mi. in, with the ridge of the Escarpment in the distance.
Beyond here was new territory for me. A rebuilt bridge led across the East Kill in a neat meadowy spot.
The peaceful flow of the East Kill.
A bit farther along the trail I came to the gorgeous meadow I'd read about, the site of a thriving farm community in the 1800s. This remote opening has views of the Blackhead Range...
...and the nearby peak of Arizona.
An inviting band of ledges up there, perhaps accessible from the Escarpment Trail.
This spot provided a great profile of the long south ridge of Blackhead.
Blackhead is an impressive peak from this angle.
The seat I used while enjoying the meadow.
Another 0.1 mi. up the trail, reached by a side path, was the pretty cascade on the East Kill.
I was tempted to continue up to Dutcher Notch, a gap in the Escarpment, but I didn't want to have a long walk out in the rain, so I headed back. On the other side of the East Kill from the meadow were these remains of an old junker.
I took some time to explore more beaver meadows just off the trail. This area reminded me of the Zealand valley in the Whites.
The East Kill meandering through the meadows.
I made another stop at the first meadow along the trail, and relaxed on a convenient log for a while.
Evidence of recent beaver activity along a tributary of the East Kill.
Classic Catskill hardwood forest along the trail.
Light rain was falling by the time I got back to the car. I drove a short distance down the road to check out state-owned Colgate Lake. In the background is the "Catskill 67" peak known as West Stoppel Point, which our friends Mark and Marilyn Klim had just climbed the day before.
A misty view of the Blackhead Range from the open fields surrounding Colgate Lake. What a beautiful area!