Friday, October 21, 2016

Not enough leaf peeping!

I need to start planning my Octobers better; I really haven't gotten out to see the fall colors nearly as much as I should have.

On the other hand, it's been 80 degrees all week. So is it really even fall?

Friday, October 14, 2016

Greens of Riverside Park


Fall colors may be at their peak in the Adirondacks, and close to their peak in the Catskills, but here in the city the leaves haven't started turning yet. It's true that the leaves are starting to look a bit tired, but summer is still hanging on.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Visiting Kaaterskill Falls

Kaaterskill FallsKaaterskill Falls, one of New York's most impressive waterfalls*, has been undergoing trail renovation over the past couple of years. There was no official trail past the base of the falls, yet people climbed up there regularly, and every year a couple of people fell to their death.

Since I was last there, a new trail has been built to the top - a very solid set of stone stairs. Eventually, there will be a viewing platform at the top, but when we were there, construction on a bridge over the falls prevented access in that direction. You can reach the top, but you can't see much from there.

Despite a dry summer, the falls were still running, but with less water than on my previous visit. It's still worth the steep hike up from the road (not to mention the crowds at the lower levels). What's still a huge pain is parking; the lot simply isn't big enough. People, this is not the place to leave generous space between your cars!

* Obviously, Niagara Falls is the most impressive.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Return to Tremper Mountain

The tower

After successfully tackling Red Hill, J and I had to decide which fire tower was next. My plan for the weekend had been to do Overlook, which follows an old road and has not only a view but a bevy of interesting sites along the way. However, it seemed like a waste to do such a scenic hike on a cloudy day, so we went to Mt. Tremper, which I remembered as having somewhat disappointing views.

I had forgotten, though, that it was the steepest of the Catskills fire towers. Hunter is more challenging, since it's longer and scrambly, but Tremper isn't a laid-back amble. We took our time going up and were pleasantly surprised to find the top of the tower was open - volunteers staff it through Columbus Day (weekends only).

Upon reflection, the cab being open makes a real difference at Tremper, more so than at the other towers, since the peak isn't as cleared as the others. You actually can see a lot more with just that few extra feet of elevation. My view was obscured thanks to the clouds: We weren't socked in, but clouds drifted past the hills, showing only a little at a time.

I enjoyed Tremper more this second time. It would probably be best in winter, when leaves are off the trees, but I am unlikely to be back to it anytime soon.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A surprise hike at the Mountain Top Arboretum

As many times as I've been to Tannersville, I never knew it had an arboretum until J saw a small sign for it while cruising through downtown. The Mountain Top Arboretum (free admission) has a variety of gardens, including a woodland walk, labyrinth, spruce woods, flowers beds, and more.

We strolled through most of the park except the East Meadow, and we only took the Black Spruce Glen trail to the boardwalk - since the boardwalk was closed for repairs. I'm not sure what the distance was, but the trail sign's estimate of 90 minutes to walk Black Spruce Glen was wildly inflated; we went slowly and took half that time. I would guess it was about 2 miles total, not entirely flat.

Despite it being a rainy autumnal day, the arboretum was quite a pleasant surprise. There were still flowers in bloom, and of course the large number of evergreens are interesting year-round.

This isn't the perfect hike if you're looking for a fast workout, but it makes a great perambulating, stop-and-look kind of stroll. We saw quite a few parents with kids doing just that, although none of them on the Black Spruce Glen trail.

Supposedly, the arboretum is good for birding, but ironically the most interesting birding sighting of the weekend occurred near the park, not in it - northern flickers hanging out by the side of the road.