Sunday, October 25, 2015

Twofer: Plateau and Sugarloaf Mountains

PlateauSugarloaf and Plateau are two Catskills 3500 peaks that are near each other on the Devil's Path. Several approaches are possible, but the easiest one if you want to do both is the one I chose, starting from Mink Hollow Road and heading south to the Path.
Technically, the first bit is trail-less, which is bizarre. It's an old road (the continuation of Mink Hollow Road) that in about .3 miles becomes an official trail. So why not that first bit? In any case, it's easy enough to follow, even without blazes. (I actually missed the start of the blazes on my way up, maybe because they were yellow and didn't really stand out in the changing leaves?)

Less than a mile in, after only moderate climbing, the road hits the Devil's Path. I opted to head west to Plateau first, which proved to be a good choice for a couple of reasons - for one, heading east on Sugarloaf would have had me staring into the sun.

The hike up to Plateau is very rocky, and it was complicated by the inches of leaves that covered the ground. That made going slow even on the relatively few flat bits. The hike gradually got steeper, but I wasn't in any real hurry. Besides, I kept stopping to turn around and admire Sugarloaf behind me (above photo). Finally I reached a nice viewpoint quite near the top, looking roughly northeast. From there it wasn't far to the top, which - go figure - was a long, flat ridge.

The way back down was slow because of the leaf-covered rocks, which, spoiler alert, I wasn't going to encounter on Sugarloaf, making it another good reason to do it first, before I was completely wiped out.

Sugarloaf is roughly the same distance and steepness, and as they're neighbors, you might think it was much like Plateau. But it is mostly covered in spruce rather than deciduous trees, and it has just the right amount of rock scrambling (that is: a lot). It was a fun hike up, even though there are no spectacular views at the top - although you can turn around and see Plateau most of the way up.

I only encountered one other hiker, a gent hiking alone on Sugarloaf. Apparently the previous day's fair-weather hikers had all been scared away, although it was really a great day to be out. The sky was cloudless and the visibility was excellent. The leaves were actually past their peak, unlike at Overlook.

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