Friday, April 6, 2012

Catskill Forest Preserve, NY - Kanape Brook and Ashokan High Point

Sundown Wild Forest - New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

GPS Coordinates 41.935710, -74.328383  

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First view of the Catskill Mountains on I-87 northbound.
Kanape Brook Parking Lot

Southern Catskill Trails Map #143 - NY/NJ Trail Conference

Ashokan High Point -

Full Red-blazed Lollipop Loop - 9.2 miles
Kanape Brook/Ashokan High Point Out and Back - 7.5 miles
Additional mileage for Little High Point bushwhack - .6 miles roundtrip

The time to do this hike for the best views is when the leaves are down. The entire trail is blazed with red discs although sometimes they look more orange.  There will also be yellow ski trail markers.  There is only one blazed trail so red, orange, or yellow, it's all the same trail.  In researching this hike I read in a couple of places that the continuation of the red trail from the summit is poorly blazed and hard to follow.  This was probably the case at some point but there were new markers along with old markers so it seems to have been reblazed recently.  A couple of confusing spots are mentioned in the hike summary.  I also read a review that said the trail is too steep for dogs.  I did not find this to be the case with my dog.  She had no problems at all.
Walk out of the parking lot, turn left and walk along the road a short distance to the red marker on the other side of the road and descend to the bridge.
Nice new bridge built by NYSDEC to replace the one destroyed by Hurricane Irene in August 2011.
Shortly after the bridge, sign in at the trail register.
The trail following Kanape Brook is an old woods road that ascends gradually along the ravine.
Small cascades in Kanape Brook.
Kanape Brook
Old stone walls along the trail.
This part of the trail is also designated as a ski trail with yellow markers.
There are several small stream crossings along the way.
The trail makes a left turn 2.7 miles into the hike - very clearly marked.  Straight ahead is private property.
The trail ascends more steeply on rocks and rock steps.
There are several tiers with a rocky ascent, then a flat stretch, then another rocky ascent.
Don't forget to turn around for seasonal views as the trail climbs higher.
At the summit old bolts and old graffiti in the rocks.
Two benchmarks at the summit.
The old graffiti supposedly dates back to the 1870's but the oldest legible one I found was from 1888.
The view from Ashokan High Point would be very reduced with foliage on the trees.
The best views require a partial bushwhack, which neither my dog nor I are fond of but we gave it a try and were successful.  I would not have attempted it with foliage on the trees since I would not have been able to see where I needed to go and I have a lousy sense of direction. My dog was a huge help because if there is a path, she follows it, even if I can't see it.  From the summit view, turn left and take the foot path straight ahead.  It fizzles out very quickly.  At that point, keep to the right.  There is no distinguishable path here.  You want to stay on the ridge but because you are also descending, it is hard to tell if you are on the ridge or not.
Eventually there is a defined path which will lead to the destination, the knob to the right of Ashokan Reservoir.  There are some steep downhills to get there that can be very slippery with thick leaf cover.
At the bottom of the descent, just before an uphill climb to the views, a camp site with a fire pit.
A tight path through blueberry bushes up to the summit of Little High Point.
Part of the view from Little High Point.  Ashokan High Point is the mountain on the right.
The views extend all the way around to the left from the Roundout Valley to the Hudson Valley.
Back at Ashokan High Point, continue on the red trail for more views.  There are several herd paths at the balds so it become harder to keep with the trail.  From this fire pit and stone seating in the center of the last bald, go left to find the red markers for the correct trail leaving the bald.
Several patches of snow on the north side of Ashokan High Point.
The trail descends steeply on loose rocks before meeting back up where the trail split earlier in the hike.
The first early spring flowers at the lower elevation.
Back at Kanape Brook.

[  0.00]  Exit parking lot, turn left and walk along paved South Hollow Road
[  0.05]  Cross road and turn right at red trail marker; descend to bridge
[  0.10]  Sign in at trail register
[  0.75]  Old stone walls begin along trail
[  1.00]  Hemlock grove
[  1.30]  Stone-lined spring to the left of the trail
[  1.45]  Trail lined with mountain laurel
[  1.60]  Cross wooden footbridge
[  1.90]  Rock hop creek then turn left where trail follows along opposite side of creek (turn not marked and blazes hard to see)
[  2.70]  Turn left at sign (straight is private property) then when trail splits, keep right (left is return route if doing lollipop)
[  2.85]  Trail ascends more steeply and start to watch behind for seasonal views
[  2.95]  Keep left on red when an unmarked trail not on the map goes sharply to the right
[  3.05]  Keep left at fork; right ends after short distance at overgrown views
[  3.25]  Rock steps ascend then level section; ascents followed by level stretches repeat several times
[  3.75]  Summit of Ashokan High Point; views on right, red trail continues to the left, unmaintained trail to Little High Point straight ahead
[  3.95]  Fire ring in valley before ascending Little High Point
[  4.05]  Summit of Little High Point; retrace
[  4.15]  Fire ring in valley before ascending Ashokan High Point
[  4.35]  Back at Ashokan High Point; turn right on red-blazed trail
[  4.45]  Side trail to left to view; retrace and continue left on red trail
[  4.50]  Come out into blueberry field openings then trail veers left into another open area
[  4.55]  Turn left at fire pit with stone seating to remain on red trail
[  5.00]  Short ascent
[  5.45]  Trail makes sharp turn left; ignore cairns and side trails along trail - they seem to go to camp sites
[  5.85]  After being fairly level, trail starts to descend more steeply
[  6.00]  Trail becomes woods road with loose rocks that descends steeply at times
[  6.30]  Loose rock woods road becomes less rocky footpath through mountain laurel
[  6.60]  Footpath becomes woods road after leaving mountain laurel
[  7.00]  At trail split turn right, then right again when private land road goes left
[  7.80]  Veer left at creek, turn right to rock hop creek, continue straight on red trail (no turn markers here)
[  8.10]  Cross wooden footbridge
[  8.40]  Stone-lined spring on right
[  9.80]  Back at car


  1. We hiked Vly & Bearpen in the Catskills on Friday. They were our first two bushwhacks. I have no sense of direction too! These are hardly bushwhacks. Vly was fully blazed to the top - and our dog Trek is able to find the trail better than us (growth was thick, blazes not always frequent). Vly wasn't bad at all. We got lost both going up and going down Bearpen. It isn't blazed, but you can take snowmobile paths to the top. But we had a hard time figuring out which ones. We used map, compass, and GPS to finally find our way. We are going to try another bushwhack tomorrow - supposedly straightforward from a navigation perspective.

    Here are our photos from Friday:

    Lynn & 2 border collies

    1. Very nice! Isn't doing a blog a great way to scrap book your hikes? My dog is not crazy about going off trail at all. In fact, she got so disgusted with me on this hike that when I would go "off-roading" to go a short distance to a better view, she would stand in the trail and wait for me to come back.


  2. Yes! After following your blog, I decided to track my own that way.

  3. I did this hike a few times as a young boy when my family had a place in Mt. Pleasant on the Esopus. If you like the area, I suggest you do the trek up to the Mt. Tremper fire tower, just watch out for the occasional timber rattler!

    1. I'll have to add that to my list, thanks!