On the last two days of our short trip to the Catskills, Mark Klim and I enjoyed rewarding short hikes to quiet, secluded Kelly Hollow in the central Cats and to North Point along the Escarpment, with horizon-stretching views.
An old cemetery rests beside the eastern trailhead for the Kelly Hollow Loop.
Civil War vet.
The Kelly Hollow Trail traces a convoluted route into two lobes of a valley on the north side of Mill Brook Ridge. Most of the trail has very easy grades and excellent footing, and the forests are beautiful. A great hike for a cloudy, misty day.
Cellar hole from former agricultural days.
On the floor of the eastern lobe of the valley is an attractive beaver pond/meadow.
The mist-shrouded headwall of the valley rises above the meadow to the south.
Pretty section of trail along the shore.
A lean-to is close by the pond, shaded by towering Norway spruces.
The trail is amazingly flat as it contours around the ridge dividing the two lobes of the valley.
One short stretch leads between patches of stinging nettles - the bane of summer bushwhackers in the Catskills.
The west section of the loop leads through an extensive spruce plantation, providing wonderful walking.
According to Dr. Michael Kudish in his classic The Catskill Forest: A History, this area was in full agricultural mode when the naturalist John Burroughs visited in 1869. In the 1930s it was planted with Norway spruce in a reforestation effort.
The trail provides a down-look to an attractive stream that drains the hollow.
A red squirrel midden pile, built up over many feeding sessions. We saw several of these in the spruce plantation.
A stone wall lines a lower stretch of the trail.
Not much flow at Ashley Falls, but the ledge formations are always interesting.
The overhang for which the Rock Shelter Trail is named.
The Mary's Glen Trail passes through varied forests, with both hardwoods...
The last quarter mile to North Point is on the classic Escarpment Trail, with a fairly steep climb including this rather tricky scramble.
A beautiful ferny stretch with good footing leads up to...
...a second scramble up classic Catskill ledges.
At the top you emerge on the flat, open ledges of North Point.
DEC signs mark this popular destination.
The ledges open a vast view over the Hudson valley beyond North and South Lakes.
A great perch! Kaaterskill High Peak is in the distance to the right.
We continued a short way up the Escarpment Trail along the ridge of North Mountain. This tunnel through stunted birches reminded me of the trail up North Traveler in Maine's Baxter State Park.
More views from North Mountain Ledge.
Puffy clouds over the Hudson valley.
A boulder on a ledge between North Mountain Ledge and North Point gives a view north to the Blackhead Range: Thomas Cole, Black Dome and Blackhead. Windham High Peak peers out on the right.
Nice walking below North Point.