Friday, October 18, 2013

Diamond Notch Trail, Lanesville, NY, October 2013

After my bad experiences hiking on the Tanbark Trail and riding on the Catskill Scenic Rail Trail, I wanted SOMETHING in the Catskills to go right. I knew I wasn't up to the challenge of the hikes to the Giant Ledges or to the top of Slide. Wanting to salvage something of the trip, I found what has been called the easiest hike in the Catskills - Diamond Notch Falls. It wasn't a peak, but it might be what I needed.

Diamond Notch Trail is an old forest road allowed to fall into trail use. The trailhead is a small pull off at the entrance to the trail on Greene County Route 6. The road dead ends at the trail, and so its only accessible by car from Route 42. The drive north from Shankaden, alongside Halcott Mountain, is scenic, and after a few miles you turn right onto County 6. After another seven miles the road becomes gravel and reaches the trail. I've put Lanesville in the subject line of the post only to give a landmark; don't expect anything resembling a town here.

The trail surface itself becomes a mix of small and medium sized stones and dirt. While it wasn't like hiking in Rocksylvania, I did have to employ more caution than I expected. The trail climbed on the left side of the West Kill, and I was delighted by the continuous series of cascades. Scott Brown in his book on New York waterfalls wrote that if you have all day and don't mind getting wet and bruised you should skip the trail and hike in the creek, and perhaps he is right. The stream is always below the trail and it involves a scramble to get to it. Hiking on the streambed would let you get many photos of the petite cascades.

After a mile I came to Diamond Notch Falls proper, a fifteen foot drop that was unfortunately a fraction of its spring runoff glory. However, the bridge that appeared in both guidebooks I consulted was gone. If I wanted to see the falls up close I either needed to enter the creek or approach from the other side, and without the bridge that meant scrambling down a twenty foot slope. I'd be nervous about doing so even if I hadn't been alone or had a stiff back from the fall the previous day. So I turned around, thwarted by the Catskills yet again. That said, it WAS  a pleasant two mile hike to the falls and back, and one day New York may replace the bridge.

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A Taste For The Woods: Diamond Notch Trail, Lanesville, NY, October 2013

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Diamond Notch Trail, Lanesville, NY, October 2013