Friday, December 2, 2011

Touchmenot Trail in the Western Catskills - Andes, NY

Tucked in the southeastern portion of Delaware County, Touchmenot Mountain offers a hike that includes a 2,700 foot peak, an amazing view of the Beaverkill Valley and a hike along the shores of Little Pond. To make this hike a loop requires some road walking, but that can be avoided if you have two vehicles or can arrange a car shuttle ahead of time.

We did this hike in the early spring while there was still some snow on the ground and the Little Pond State Campground was closed for the season. Since we only had a single car, we did the road walk to make one large loop. Considering the low level of traffic on roads and the scenic area you walk through, the road walk is not bad.

Our trip began at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation parking area located on Barkaboom Road adjacent to the outlet of Big Pond. From the parking area, the red blazed Touchmenot Trail heads west up Touchmenot Mountain about 100 feet north of the parking area along the road. There is a trailhead sign along the road and just up the hill is a trail register. Make sure to sign in as this information is used by Rangers should you become lost to help locate you.

From the trail register, the trail climbs steadily up the eastern side of Touchmenot Mountain. The trail is somewhat eroded in places, but it is not a difficult hike. The trail is well marked and easy to follow throughout this entire trip. It is interesting to note that the Touchmenot Trail is part of the Finger Lakes Trail, a 500+ mile trail that goes from the Pennsylvania-New York border in Allegany State Park to the Long Path in the Catskill Forest Preserve.

As the trail reaches the summit area of Touchmenot Mountain, you encounter the trail junction with the blue blazed Campground Trail at 1.2 miles from Barkaboom Road. If you head down the Campground Trail 0.30 miles, you will reach the true summit of Touchmenot Mountain. To continue with the loop though, follow the red blazed Touchmenot Trail as it begins descending into the notch between Touchmenot Mountain and Cabot Mountain.

From the trail junction with the Campground Trail, you follow the Touchmenot Trail another 0.4 miles to the next trail junction. Here the Touchmenot Trail intersects the Little Pond Trail. For this trip take a left onto the yellow blazed, Little Pond Trail. The Touchmenot Trail continues straight ahead and climbs Cabot Mountain, before descending and reaching Beech Hill Road.

The yellow blazed Little Pond Trail follows an old farm road as it descends slightly. After 0.35 miles, you come across one of the best views in the area. The old farm fields here offer a panoramic view of the Beaverkill Valley along with the mountain ranges to the west, south and east. This is a great spot for a picnic or to just enjoy the sunshine and watch the world go by. Near the bottom of the old farm field, the trail passes by an old farm pond along with the foundation and some old equipment from the farm. This can be an interesting area to explore and imagine the old farmstead on the hill.

The trail then descends quickly and reaches the stream that eventually flows into Little Pond. The trail follows the stream and ends after 1.3 miles at the intersection with the Little Pond State Campground’s trail that goes around the entire pond. Just before reaching the campground’s trail, there is a trail register. Make sure you sign out as you pass by. From the end of the trail at the campground, you can walk the campground’s trail in either direction around Little Pond to the entrance of the campground. If you have left a car in the day-use parking area at Little Pond, this is the end of your trip. If the campground is closed or you have a single car at Big Pond, you will have to walk out the access road to the campground to Big Pond Road and then follow Big Pond/Barkaboom Road to the parking lot at Big Pond. It is approximately 1 mile from the campground entrance to Big Pond Road. From the intersection take a left on to Big Pond/Barkabook Road, and it is an additional 0.5 miles to the parking area and your car.

The total mileage for the trip, including the road walk back to your car at the Big Pond Parking area is approximately 5 miles. The majority of the hike would be considered a moderate hike with a few short and strenuous steeper sections. Hikers during the summer and fall months would only need a good pair of hiking boots, water and a lunch to make this trip. In the winter and spring, snowshoes may be needed when the snow is deep. At the time we did the trip in March, enough snow had melted that we did not need to use the snowshoes that we had brought with us.

If you are looking for maps or a guidebook for these trails, the trails are shown on the New York New Jersey Trail Conference’s Catskill Trails Map #144 ( and hike descriptions are available in the Catskill Mountain Guide, published by the Appalachian Mountain Club (

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Easy Hike. Harder Hike. You Choose!

The West Branch Preserve is a great hike if you have a spare hour or afternoon. This 446 acres site has as its southern boundary the West Branch of the Delaware River - thus its name. To the north, the preserve extends to a mountain ridge 1,000 feet above the river valley. Woodlands make up some 250 acres. Of these, about 200 acres were logged 25 years ago, while the remaining 50 acres are thought to be the location of a farm abandoned in the 1830s.

The site is located in the Town of Hamden, about 10 miles west of Delhi. From Delhi on State Hwy. 10 going west about 9 miles, County 26 joins Rte. 10 from left. The preserve entrance and parking area are on the right hand side of Rte. 10, 9/10ths of a mile beyond the junction with County Route 26.

From the parking lot a path leads uphill across a meadow to the woods and a sign-in box. There are two trails, a 0.7 mile trail marked in blue markers with a moderate ascent and a 2.0 mile marked in orange on an old logging road that has a steep climb and should be attempted only by experienced hikers.

On the blue trail you can see stands of pines and hemlocks and on the orange trail you will find erosion control bumps and trees like the sugar maple, red maple, beech, and oak. In some parts of the woodlands you might see deer and near the Delaware River you will find the rare riverweed, an endangered plant species.

Both the Emmons Pond Bog and the West Branch Preserve are Nature Conservancy Preserves. The Nature Conservancy, incorporated in 1951, is an international membership organization devoted to the preservation of biological diversity through habitat conservation. For more information on the Nature Conservancy and its preserves in the region, please contact The Nature Conservancy (518) 272-0195.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Easy Hike and Swim Combo - Alder Lake!!

If you're looking for a great easy day hike that can include a swim - try this great lake loop trail (we'll be posting one at Little Pond next). It traces a loop around a 44 acre man-made lake that was part of the Coykendall Estate. Sign in at the trainhead, then walk to the lake. Cross the dam and follow the old road/rail around the lake. Loop is about 1.6 miles with a slight rise on one side.

Other details: Campsites dot the perimeter of the lake. Nonmotorized boats are allowed on the lake. There are picnic tables to relax by. Well behaved dogs are permitted as well.

Make it a longer hike: When you reach the lake we like to start to the left following the red discs from the Finger Lake Trails (this route connects to the Mill Brook Ridge and yellow discs - a more difficult and steep hike). You can also connect to Touch-Me-Not Trail here which takes you west over the mountains to Big Pond.

Directions to: Alder Lake Loop Trail. From Rt. 28 in Margaretville (on the west side of town) cut over to and then left on Mill Brook Road. At the fork veer right onto Cross Mtn Road. Go left on to Turnwood Road / County Route 54. Turn left to Alder Lake Road. Park at the lot near the gate. Trail register is just beyond.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Delhi's Outdoor Education Center

Love this post from the Great Western Catskills! While not really a hike - this is a great walk with so much nature. Lots of folks bring their dogs (on leash please!) and relax along the Little Delaware River.

Check out the blog post HERE.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Finger Lakes Trails in the Western Catskills

The Finger Lakes Trail crosses New York State from the Pennsylvania border in Allegany State Park, in the west, to the Long Path hiking trail at Denning lean-to in the Western Catskills. The main trail is currently 552.8 miles; the major branch trails total 239.6 miles. Future developments are planned that will replace some parts of the trail that are on roads with off-road trail, and that will extend some branch trails. The trail is accessible to both long-distance and day hikers. A Map Buyers Guide describing all maps published is available from the Finger Lakes Trail Conference Service Center PO Box 18048 Rochester NY 14618-0048.

In Delaware County the trail runs from approximately the northwest corner, from Chenango County near Otsego County, across the southern part of the county to the western corner of Ulster County. From that point it continues to join up with the Long Path not far from Slide Mountain. Much of the trail is still on public roads, though many of those roads are rather scenic. Most of the trail off roads on state land. Negotiations are underway with the DEC and other groups to get more of the trail off-road.

The terrain is hilly to mountainous, ranging between 1000 and 3500 feet above sea level; most of the trail off roads runs through forest, alternating between hardwoods and conifers. Delaware County’s trails are in sections M26 through M31. Trail condition reports are posted on the FLTC’s website – check it before you go out hiking. Much of the hiking in our area has heavy growth due to infrequent tail maintenance, so it is important to dress appropriately.

The Finger Lakes Trail Association is looking for trail sponsors. As of Winter 2010, there is a 2.3 mile section of the Campbell Mountain Trail between Campbell Mt. Road and NY 206 on Map M30. Additionally there is 3.2 miles of the Mary Smith Trail that begins at Holiday and Berry Brook Road and ends at Mary Smith Hill Road that is available for adoption. This is a rugged section of the trail that offer big rewards for a new sponsor. You can contact Steve Catherman, Vice President of Trail Maintenance at

Back Country Camping on NYS DEC Lands

Back-country camping is allowed on Forest Preserve lands in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks as well as State Forests (reforestation areas and multiple use areas). Generally, camping is prohibited on Unique Areas, Wildlife Management Areas, Historic and Nature Preserves, and Conservation Easements. Camping for more than three nights or in a group of ten or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger. Camping is prohibited within 150 feet of water, roads or trail.

Protect the Resources

Pack out what you pack in. Litter is a great wilderness destroyer, yet an easy problem for each of us to correct.

Cooking is more efficient with a backpacking stove. If you must build an open fire, use only dead and down wood. Locate an old fire site or find an open place and clear an area at least six feet across of any material that will burn and lay up stones. Never leave the fire unattended. After pour water on the fire and stir the coals until they are cold to your touch. Scatter the cold ashes and the stones and leave the site as clean as possible. Never drop lit matches or smokes where they will cause fire – PREVENT FOREST FIRES.

Streams and spring are our only water supply. Keep them clean. Don’t put anything in them you wouldn’t drink. Don’t wash dishes in streams.

Locate your camp at least 150 feet away from the trail or water.

Nature will take care of human waste. Dig a shallow hole in the forest floor at least 150 feet away from water and campsites. Cover with leaf litter and dirt.

Smaller groups do less damage to the environment. If your party is greater than 10 persons, please travel and camp in smaller groups. If you are staying more, obtain a camping permit from the local Forest Ranger or Regional Office of the NYS DEC at no charge.

Camp and build open fires only below 3500 feet. The higher you climb, the more fragile the environment.

If you take a pet into the wilderness, keep it under control at all times. Restrain it on a leash when others approach. Clean droppings away from trail and camping areas. Keep your pet our of sources of drinking water.

Respect the environment: do not deface trees, plants, or rocks; or disturb wildlife.

Firewood and Camping: What You NEED To Know


A NEW REGULATION is now in effect that prohibits the import of firewood into New York unless it has been heat treated to kill pests. The regulation also limits the transportation of untreated firewood to less than 50 miles from its source.

By transporting firewood, you could be spreading diseases and invasive insects that can quickly kill large numbers of trees. Help STOP THE SPREAD and obey the Firewood Regulation:

It is best to leave all firewood at home - please do not bring it to campgrounds or parks.

Get your firewood at the campground or from a local vendor - ask for a receipt or label that has the firewood's local source.

If you choose to transport firewood within New York State:

o It must have a receipt or label that has the firewood's source and it must remain within 50 miles of that source.

o For firewood not purchased (i.e. cut from your own property) you must have a Self-Issued Certificate of Source (pdf, 100kb), and it must be sourced within 50 miles of your destination.

o Only firewood labeled as meeting New York's heat treatment standards to kill pests (kiln-dried) may be transported into the state and further than 50 miles from the firewood's source.

o For additional questions regarding this regulation, please call this toll-free number: 1-866-640-0652 or e-mail: