Schoharie County High Point Trip Report

Huntersfield Mountain (3,423 ft - summit benchmark on Greene County line)

Date: April 30, 2000
Author: Dan Case

I had been planning on this one for a long time and it was worth the effort. After several weeks of dull roots being stirred with spring rain, mixing memory and desire, the weather finally cleared up on this wet and cold April and yielded an absolutely gorgeous and clear day. The repairs to my backpack couldn't have been finished sooner.

Fred had said that he and Bob Packard had done it last year by driving to the col and bushwhacking along the ridge. This worried me a little bit as I had intended to follow Section 26 of the Long Path to the summit (the only other CHP besides Slide that it directly crests, so far).

Well, guess what ... it exists, and I followed its aqua blazes all the way to the top. To be fair, the trailhead is a little bit hard to find and the guidebook, written by my good friend Howie Dash, doesn't tell you how to get to it. The USGS map and the NY DeLorme book are somewhat helpful but the names and layout of the roads in the area have changed since then.

So, here's my directions.

Take NY 23 to Red Falls (beautiful waterfall right across the road) and the junction with Greene County 4. Go north slightly to fork; bear left on Dent Road. Follow past County Route 10 to where it becomes Sant (something) Road. At next fork, bear left again onto Schrader Road (the right road is gated, anyway). Somewhere along this you will see the aqua blazes start to appear on the trees after you cross a creek, and then the road has become Marvin-Rion Road. It ends at Albert Slater Road. Turn right (blazes will still be on trees even though this is no longer the route of the trail). This ends at Hundermark and Macomber Roads. Turn right on what the little address signs on houses say is Hundermark, yet the street sign at the intersection says Huntersfield. Continue to where road becomes dirt. Next intersection, up hill, has Huntersfield State Forest sign and trailhead.

You want to take the trail from the right side of the road, where the aqua blazes go up Huntersfield Creek and one of its tributaries. The trail that leaves under the state forest sign is a new section that replaced the former road walk between here and Manor Kill.

Since this area doesn't see much in the way of hikers (although I met some fellow 35ers higher up), the treadway isn't yet well established on the first 0.35 mile, which follows the creek up a gentle slope to the continuation of the road you came in on. (Note to possible Martinizers: This can be legally driven up to a turnout, but it's really muddy and wet and there is a gate which the guidebook warns can be locked at any time.)

At the road the trail turns left and traverses towards the col through a lovely pine plantation, probably one of those CCC things to replace former pastures up here. A half-mile later, it turns off the road into the woods and attacks the ridgeline.

About 0.4 miles later, where the forest has returned to natural second-growth of beech/birch/maple, there is a splendid overlook to the right towards Utsayantha Mountain and the range next to it in northern Delaware County. To its right is the mountains of Scotch Valley ski resort and a rather unassuming bump to its northwest that conceals, on its backside, the source of the Delaware River.

From it's still almost a mile up the stair-step topography typical of the Catskills, with the trail (better here, but fainter than one would like) crossing and re-crossing the boundary between state and private land which also seems to be the county line. About five of these later, after the forest has returned to virgin stands of dwarfed, stunted ridge hardwoods like cherry, maple and birch, you level out onto the summit. The benchmark is right next to the trail, dated 1942, set in a small rock. The ground over the roots just behind it is higher, but I'm going by the topo which puts that BM as the corner of the county line and thus the HP. Hey, what would you expect me to do ... I had lunch on it.

An even better spot for such repasts can be reached via the newly-built (courtesy of the work-release program at nearby Summit Shock Incarceration Facility) loop trail down below the summit. It uses yellow plastic NYSDEC discs.

A little bit hard to follow at some points, it takes you first to a cut overlook similar to the western one (with a nice little bench!), then to the lean-to (with a little log picnic table inside, and something of a porch) which has the best view, south to Slide and Hunter mountains and a couple of other ones in between. (Speaking of other CHPs in the area, the ridge of Bearpen and the little bump that's Delaware's can be seen through the trees to the south, and looking through the trees to the northwest past the river's headwaters I could spot the escarpment where the Otsego highpoint is.)

Last in this little display is the eastern viewpoint, along the ridge the Long Path follows back to Windham High Peak at the northern end of the Catskill Park (which gets to tower over the ones in front, as opposed to the usual angles one views it where it plays fourth fiddle to the Blackheads nearby). Beyond them on the northeastern horizon were some outlines of peaks that I don't know, but might be in southern Vermont (Stratton? Glastenbury? I will have to go there and check them out. Could be another CHP for the view.)

My return was uneventful. However, on the drive out, I discovered a maple tree had fallen across the road and blocked my exit to pavement ... young enough for its upper branches to be easily snapped, but old and heavy enough for it to further resist my efforts to displace it beyond a few feet. I had to call on someone in the neighborhood to bring out a chainsaw. And to think I thought this sort of thing only happened out west!

This ended any plans I had of getting over to the Otsego HP afterwards, but really, this is the sort of hike you can't really rush through to get to another one. Besides it was getting cold and late. It would really be easier to do in combination with Albany.

So, I now have all the Catskill county highpoints (unless you get really technical and inclusive as some geologists do and stretch it out to the Albany, Broome, Chenango and Otsego HPs) and all the Long Path counties save Albany and NJ Bergen (but by the time I do, they'll have extended the trail into the Adirondacks).