Delaware County High Point Trip Report

West summit, Bearpen Mountain at Greene County line (3,520 feet)

Date: June 6, 1999
Author: Daniel Case

Most people in Delaware County believe the HP is either Roundtop or Dry Brook Ridge. While both of these top 3,400 feet, the actual highpoint is the only land in the county above 3,500 feet.

Interestingly, the USGS Prattsville quad identifies this summit as "Bearpen Mountain," ignoring the mountain's true summit, at 3,600 feet, a mile to the west in Greene County. Although that peak is outside the Catskill Park Blue Line, it is still required for membership in the 3500 Club.

Most aspirants choose to hike it together with neighboring Vly Mountain from the col between the two, a partial bushwhack. I chose, this clear but humid day, to go up the longer route, an old public road used to access the ski resort which was once built here.

To get there, you follow Greene County Route 2 south from NY 23 just after the bridge over Schoharie Creek outside the unincorporated hamlet of Prattsville. It goes up over a hill for several miles, then tops out with a view to Bearpen and Vly (The ADK guide, Volume 8, gives better directions than I can).

As you go down, there is an unmarked dirt road off to the right next to a tree. This is Ski Run Road, which curves around the upper Little West Kill valley for four miles to the mountain's summit, and three to the county HP. It can be legally driven, but I chose to walk. Probably a good idea, since it is probably best suited to trucks and SUVs. It crosses state forest land and privately owned land that has been logged.

At the top of the valley, the apex of the big U, there is a nice private hunters' cabin with some picnic tables. You will probably see or hear people ATVing in the area on a good day. I did.

Take the road that forks off to the sharp left out of here (it should be obvious if you've been following the map). It continues to ascend gently. After about a mile, when you are in the strange and surreal ridge hardwood forests that take over in the Catskills just before the boreal forests begin (unfortunately, there aren't any on this whole mountain), you will see a sign on the left side of the road indicating a boundary with state forest land.

This is the Greene County line. The HP is along it (can't remember the compass bearing) perhaps a few hundred feet to the north amid the ferns and stunted, twisted birch/beech/maple trees. Very little vertical ascent from this point.

Afterwards, you may want to bag the peak proper, an easy walk from here. There are two cleared areas that would have been ski trails if the developers had had money, the top of the second one is the true summit and both have breathtaking views northwest over Delaware County, Schoharie Reservoir and the valley of the eponymous creek.