Monday, April 25, 2016


With a beautiful but very warm forecast on tap for Monday, I opted to head for one of the more remote of the "trailless" Catskill 3500 peaks, 3860-ft. Doubletop Mountain. This entire route out of the Dry Brook valley in the southern Catskills is on private land. The first mile is on the state-maintained Seager-Big Indian Trail, which has an easement from Furlow Properties, part of a large tract owned by the Gould family. The bushwhack route up the mountain itself, as well as the northern of the two summits, is also on Gould family property. Prior to the hike I called the property caretaker (the name and number are listed on the Catskill 3500 Club website) and received permission for the hike. Thanks to the landowners for allowing access to this beautiful area.

 The mile-long approach along the trail leads up the quiet valley of Dry Brook. On this dry streambed there was abundant coltsfoot in bloom.

Coltsfoot lit up in the morning sun.

This trail provides very pleasant walking.

Dry Brook, whose name comes from the German "drei brucke," which means "three bridges."

A cascade and pool by the confluence with Flatiron Brook.

I was expecting to bushwhack all the way up the north ridge of Doubletop, but after whacking up a steep slope from the trail I unexpectedly came upon a well-beaten herd path. That explains why the caretaker had requested that I "stay on the trail as much as possible."

A nice stand of hemlock.

Classic Catskill hardwoods. In some areas the path was hard to follow, especially on the descent.

A typical Catskill ledge band, which you encounter on most any ridge climb. The Catskill sandstone is very photogenic.

An ent-like yellow birch. According to the map that accompanies Dr. Michael Kudish's amazing book, The Catskill Forest: A History (now back in print), the upper two-thirds of Doubletop's north ridge is cloaked in first-growth forest that has never been cut.

On one of several small shoulders along the ridge, the darkly wooded crest of Doubletop could be glimpsed ahead.

The upper part of the climb was rather steep.

A rock beside the path offered a view north to Eagle Mountain and distant ridges.

Gnarled trees at 3700 ft.

Just above here the herd path entered the fir forest.

Herd  paths converged on the small clearing at the north summit and the canister maintained by the Catskill 3500 Club. Eight people had signed in the previous day (Sunday).

The summit register.

Intro page to the register.

A recent entry from a pair of well-known New England peakbaggers.

I continued across the broad, flat summit, heading for possible viewpoints on the south summit.

Some wild conifer forest up here.

I followed a herd path and then bushwhacked on the south summit, looking for views. The south summit and slopes to the south are on state land in the Big Indian Wilderness Area. This wonderful open shelf of ridge hardwoods was a fine spot for a late lunch.

Sweet glades.

The top of this boulder would have provided a view, but it was inaccessible without climbing gear and skills.

After some futile view searching, I settled in for a late lunch.

After some post-lunch scrounging around I finally found a good westerly view from an uplifted rock.

From here, Graham Mountain, another 3500-ft. peak, has an elongated profile. It, too, is owned by the Gould family. Behind on the left is the flat crest of Balsam Lake Mountain.

A close-up of Graham, with several ledge bands visible on its slopes.

Dry Brook ridge is seen through the gap between Graham and Doubletop.

The wide crest of Balsam Lake Mountain, sporting an historic firetower.

Remote backcountry to the SW, with views extending out to Pennsylvania.

The rather precarious perch that provided these views.

I took another break on this inviting dry grassy slope with filtered views.

A sharp dropoff on the south side.

Easy bushwhacking across the slope.

Late in the day I found Doubletop's best viewpoint, at the SE corner of the south summit.

Looking out over a southern spur of Doubletop.

Peering into the secluded valley of High Falls Brook. On the horizon I spotted the monument on High Point in New Jersey.

A great view of the Burroughs Range: left to right, Wittenberg, Cornell, Slide, Balsam Cap, Rocky, Lone, Table and Peekamoose.

A closer view of the southern half of the range.

Looking down from the ledge.

Panther Mountain through the trees to the left of Eagle Mountain.

The approach to the outlook.

Glade behind the outlook.

On my way back towards the north summit I stumbled upon this wreckage from the 1983 crash of a small plane.

On the descent I caught this unique view of Eagle Mountain. All told I was able to spot 30 of the other 34 Catskill 3500 peaks from various vantages on Doubletop.

Ledge overhang along the north ridge.

An evening view of the waterfall at the base of the mountain. All in all, it was a satisfying trip to a wild Catskill peak.

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