Delaware County High Point Trip Report

Bearpen Mountain

Date: July 2000
Author: David Galvin

I had climbed Bearpen three times before this but had never bothered to walk the three quarters of a mile from the true summit (which is in Greene County) to the Delaware County high point. After my climb of Huntersfield, I climbed Bearpen with the express purpose of finally reaching this high point on the northwestern ridge of that mountain. This is the same false summit that is marked on the USGS quad with the mountain's name. The logical way to get to this point is from Ski Run Road to the northwest, as Dan Case describes in his trip report. I went via Mountain Road on the southeast. I justified this by telling myself that I really wanted to climb the whole mountain and check directions. The real reason, though, was that I knew this route and I didn't want to figure out a new one.

To get to the Mountain Road you can get on Greene County Rt. 2 either from just north of Prattesville on Rt. 23, or by crossing the bridge north of Lexington next to the snack shop on Rt. 23A. The turn for the Mountain Road is about two miles from Rt. 23A when coming from the south, and about 4 miles past Ski Run Road when coming from the north. Ski Run Road, which is the route Dan Case describes for this high point, now has a sign. Mountain Road does not. When you reach a three way intersection and note that the road heading roughly south almost immediately divides, you have found Mountain Road. Take the left fork. The pavement ends after about a mile, and the road goes past a pond on your left and starts to climb the Vly-Bearpen col. You can drive the mile to the col, but it will require four wheel drive and lot of road clearance. Park your Miata where the pavement ends.

Take the road about a mile up to the col. You gain about 1000' of altitude, so it is a relatively steep climb. In the col there is a hunter's shack finished tastefully in black building paper. Take the driveway past this shack and generally west (magnetic) to a switchback. Climb the switchback and find a herd path marked with a stone cairn above the switchback on your right. Follow this herd path over the summit (good views) and past a muddy pond to the Delaware County line.

The damage on this mountain from ATVs and other off-road vehicles is extensive. I picked up one recently chewed area after climbing the switchback. The ATVs had crushed down the ferns and briar in a six foot wide swath from the switchback to the summit. This certainly eases the difficulties of bushwhacking but does nothing for the aesthetics. A number of lesser trails have also been created, apparently by riders motoring aimlessly around the landscape. Northwest of the summit, down on the ridge, the old trails and woods roads have been widened to as much as thirty feet. Deep, muddy pools created by the traffic have inspired riders to take bypasses around them, creating further damage. The pond in the defile below the summit appears to be a magnet for the things. ATV trails encircle it and its water is brown and turbid from the mud loosened along its banks.

The Delaware County high point is about a half mile beyond the pond, a short bushwhack east of the main thoroughfare. The point nearest the high point is marked by a state forest sign on the road. The climb from there is less than forty feet and the distance is perhaps a fifth of a mile. I could find no marker for the actual spot, but I walked around in the waist deep ferns that covered the area and I think I hit the actual high point at least once. Ironically, my little walk added to the human impact in the area. Worse, some ATV rider might notice my trace in the foliage and take his machine up it to investigate.