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 (