Cross to the east side of the road and follow the blue-blazed Escarpment Trail (co-aligned with a yellow-blazed horse trail) into the woods. The trail heads south and descends through a mixed forest of hemlocks and deciduous tree...
Cross to the east side of the road and follow the blue-blazed Escarpment Trail (co-aligned with a yellow-blazed horse trail) into the woods. The trail heads south and descends through a mixed forest of hemlocks and deciduous trees.
In half a mile, the trail crosses two old railroad rights-of-way and a bridge over the outlet of North/South Lake. After crossing another bridge, you'll reach a four-way junction. Here, you turn right, continuing to follow the blue blazes of the Escarpment Trail along a woods road, with the stream below to the right. You'll soon pass a trail register (please sign) and cross a short footbridge.
A short distance beyond, the trail turns left, leaving the road, and begins a steady climb. After leveling off, it begins to descend, first gradually, then more steeply. At the base of the descent, a stone monument on the left memorializes Frank Layman, a firefighter who lost his life here in August 1900.
You've now reached the edge of the escarpment, which you'll follow for the next mile and a half. The trail turns left here, and in a short distance, it turns left again and begins to climb. In 500 feet, after a steep climb up a large rock, it reaches a panoramic viewpoint. Kaaterskill Clove - which you traversed to get here - is directly below, Kaaterskill High Peak and Roundtop tower above the clove to the south, and the small community of Twilight Park may be seen to the right.
A little further along, you’ll pass another expansive viewpoint on the right, and then you’ll climb to a third viewpoint with a more limited view. Just beyond, the trail climbs steeply, then more gradually, and it reaches a junction with a yellow-blazed connector trail that begins on the left.
Continue ahead on the blue-blazed trail, which shortly emerges onto Sunset Rock (marked by a sign), with a somewhat limited south-facing view. After a short level stretch, the trail descends steeply over rock ledges to reach Inspiration Point (Trail Conference Map 141 labels this viewpoint as "Sunset Rock" and the following viewpoint as "Inspiration Point"). Here, two large flat rocks with carved inscriptions (some of which date back over 100 years) afford panoramic views to the west and south. Be careful when approaching the edge, as the drop is precipitous!
A short distance beyond, you'll reach a broad viewpoint to the east over the Hudson River valley, with the Taconic Mountains beyond. For the next quarter mile, the trail continues to run very close to the edge of the escarpment, with more views.
About three-quarters of a mile beyond Inspiration Point, you'll come to a T-intersection with a yellow-blazed horse trail. Turn right, now following both blue and yellow blazes, and in 300 feet, turn left, continuing to follow the blue- and yellow-blazed trail. In the next half mile, you'll gradually climb about 200 vertical feet.
At the next junction, the blue-blazed Escarpment Trail turns right, but you should bear left, now following the red-blazed Schutt Road Trail and the yellow-blazed horse trail. In 60 feet, turn left, continuing to follow the red and yellow blazes.
In the next mile, you'll descend gradually along an old carriage road, passing the end of the yellow-blazed connector trail on the left. The Schutt Road Trail ends at the four-way junction that you passed towards the start of the hike. Continue ahead, immediately crossing a bridge, and follow the blue-blazed Escarpment Trail back to the parking area where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 09/25/2008 updated/verified on 09/05/2014
This loop hike follows the Catskill Escarpment above Kaaterskill Clove, with many spectacular views.
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.