Monday, April 30, 2018


On another fine spring day, I joined bushwhacking buddy Mark Klim, who had come down to the Catskills from his Massachusetts home for a couple of days, for an off-trail adventure to the Beaver Kill Range, a remote ridge in the western part of the Big Indian Wilderness. Mark is pecking away at the Catskill 100 highest peaks, as described in Alan Via's excellent book, The Catskill 67. The day before he had bushwhacked up steep rocky slopes and through foot-deep snow on the ridge to Sleeping Lion Mountain, a little-visited peak on the west side of Rt. 42 and Deep Notch. That was his 60th peak on the list, and the summit of the Beaver Kill Range would be #61.

We made the long drive down to this very isolated southern trailhead in Mark's truck. The last few miles were on the gravel Black Bear Road, which was in excellent shape. We parked at the end of the maintained road, where there was a fine view from a large field, with Table and Peekamoose Mountains visible in the distance. 

We proceeded up the rough extension of the road on foot, designated as the Neversink-Hardenburgh Trail, and agreed that it would have been unwise to try driving any farther. 

After passing through a parcel of private land, we launched our bushwhack on state land, ascending through open hardwoods.

This rocky slope was one of the few rough spots we encountered on this generally mellow bushwhack.

Mark framed by an unusual tree.

Spring whacking at its best.

An old sugar maple.

This open glade was one of the finest spots of the day.

A meadow-like area in the woods.

After skirting an eastern summit of the ridge, we encountered some spring snow in a high, broad col. Time for a break.

Heading up towards the main summit.

As we neared the summit, we climbed over a deep, hard-packed snowdrift deposited by the winter's NW winds.

On the other side of the drift, we emerged in the fabulous fern and yellow birch glade beautifully described in Alan Via's book. To our surprise and delight, the glade was free of snow.

What a stunningly beautiful spot, in this remote nook of the Catskills.

The glade offers a good view north to Balsam Lake Mountain and the ridge leading across to Graham Mountain.

 Balsam Lake (on the left) and its namesake mountain.

A zoom on Balsam Lake in its hardwood bowl.

Graham Mountain to the NE.

We savored this spot for an hour and a half.

Mark taking it in.

Heading up towards the summit.

A rock with a view over the open high-elevation forest.


At the 3377-foot summit of the Beaver Kill Range.

Cool layered rock.

A Catskill Valentine.

Heading down a southern ridge to check out a large beaver meadow/pond.

At the base of the ridge was a pretty little stream flowing into the beaver pond.

Tall trees at the edge of the pond.

A serene scene at the north end of the pond.

Fresh beaver cuttings.

Beaver meadow creature.

Beaver dam near the south end.

Looking north to the main crest of the Beaver Kill Range.

A lovely spot in the wilderness.

We sat on a log for a while to take it in.

Parting shot before bushwhacking over a ridge to the Neversink-Hardenburgh Trail to return to the trailhead.

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