Broome County High Point Trip Report

Date: May 2001
Author: Dan Case

USGS BM Slawson (2,080+ ft)

Exit NY 17 (the future I-86) at Exit 82. Take NY 41 north a few miles to North Sanford Road on your right. Turn up this road, past many hills, pastures and farms but not a lot of people. You have several options to either side of this hill. Gary Fallesen gives directions via Lord Road to approach from the east, which entails the cooperation of a very friendly landowner, but that also entails a longer hike and more vertical. So I chose Dave Galvin's side, the more questionable west. (Carl Road and a couple of other streets lead to this landowner's property. The actual land around the benchmark is owned by a hunting club which is also OK with highpointing).

I got to the Walker/O'Brien Road intersection by going up North Sanford to the hamlet (such as it is) of North Sanford, immediately beyond which lies Melondy Hill Road. Bear down it to the left. Shortly thereafter you pass Perry Road, a narrow dirt track, on your left. Take it. It winds around the mountain a couple of miles to the (unsigned) Lord Road junction and then to the marked Walker Road, on the left. Follow this to the intersection, where you will find ample, though unofficial, space to park.

Despite very dry weather here in recent weeks, the woods road was wet and muddy between the two ponds, so much so that I sank in it and chose to use the spillway for the southern pond. (If you're daring, you could go down Walker Road to the road with the posted chain across it. This would allow you to bypass this area and probably be shorter). Logging is very evident here, which has left it a great place for deer hunting. I saw two tree stands in the woods as I passed.

I was able to follow the woods road, in its faintest extreme, almost to the top of the hill actually, to maybe 2,050' (there's just a little bit left after that topmost loop). Once there I spotted the obvious high ground, a rock outcrop with telltale striated Catskill shale (but much older than that seen in the higher peaks), right next to an oak tree. I looked around there but did not see the benchmark. I did, however, see a pair of painted trilliums; my first sighting on the season of this beautiful wildflower, on NY's threatened species list. Normally I don't see it till I reach higher elevations in the major Catskill peaks. Like Dave, I ambled around this high flat area, looking for competitors and the benchmark. I found some of the former but not the latter. I know it exists because Gary Fallesen has a picture of his foot resting on it in his book. But today, all I saw were low-lying stumps that mimicked the concrete. It may be somewhere along the property line. I didn't consider that I had the time to do that exploration.

one area on Delaware County line one-half mile west of Clarks Pond in Oquaga Creek State Park (2,080+ ft)

Again, I followed Dave's directions into the park. (If coming here first from NY 17, get off in Deposit and head north on NY 8 to bear left to park on Delaware County Route 20 just north of Stilesville). No problem, but I would suggest to you that to pick up that service road, go to its eastern end, away from the park and restroom facilities.

Once along it, at the brush burning area he mentioned (clearing with partially (de)constructed picnic tables), look for a stone wall in the woods. Leave the road and follow it uphill. I crossed an old road that is probably the trail you can hit from the service road, but it had no blazes, white or otherwise, that I could see. Continuing uphill, sometimes a little steeply, I followed the fence line, playing a hunch that it was also the Treaty Line and thus the county line. The accompanying trees began to be marked with red surveyor's tape as well. On a steep pitch above the third-growth forest just above the trail, the fence line ended but the tape flagging continued along a very straight line. I noticed the blue blazes Dave spoke of; however it quickly became apparent that they were not marking a line of any kind as they were scattered all over the area.

The red tape, however, seemed to confine them to the east, further confirming that this was the county line. It looked, in fact, like someone had gone through here to prepare the area for logging. I discovered later that a good chunk of the Delaware County side of this hill was, in fact not state park land but state forest. So in the future this may be partially clear-cut like the Otsego County HP. Whoever ran the red tape line did a great job. Despite blow-down and some areas of denser, immature saplings, they stayed on a due north- south course with near-mathematical precision, using just enough tape so that you could see at least the next flag from each one. It leveled out, and I thought I was at the summit, but then I could see the real knob up another rise, fortunately not as steep and clearer then what I had come up. There were a few of the aforementioned shale erratics in the vicinity.

Height of land along this line was reached at exactly the point where the topo map suggests it should be, and the high spot (possibly for all of Broome County due to its proximity to the 2,100' contour) was a flagged striped maple sapling. An area to the east appears as if it may be higher, and in fact does offer a three-foot high erratic to stand on, which I did, but the ground itself doesn't seem to come up as high as that on the county line. Since the mysteries of the climb had been revealed, my return went much faster.

Upon departing for Deposit, Route 17 and home, I discovered what may be an even better way to access this. While reconnoitering the area last November (i.e., planning to hike it but being frustrated by none of them being easy, and it being the day before hunting season with the sounds of target practice echoing in the nearby woods), I had tried to keep my eyes peeled while driving through the saddle to the east along Delaware County 20 for the Finger Lakes Trail crossing. This time I found it. It's near the height of land just north of the "Arctic State Forest" sign and lot. Some work on the road and faded blazes had prevented finding it last fall, but now the blazes are fresh sky blue (I thought they were supposed to be yellow where it wasn't part of the North Country Trail.) and there's a sign. I would have to get maps from the FLTC, but it seems to me that the trail might skirt the hill to the south side, offering a well-marked trail and shorter (albeit steeper) bushwhack to the HP as part of a shorter overall hike.