Backpacking recommendation

Posted by: fluffstravels

Backpacking recommendation - 04/10/08 08:56 PM

I'd like to give backpacking a try. Can anybody recommend a good beginner trail somewhere in the Hudson Valley or Catskills region?


- 25 miles or less, so it can be done in a long weekend.
- easy trail to follow
- camping on or near trail
- swimming hole along the way would be helpful
- a loop so that it finishes where we started would be ideal

My problem isn't so much that I can't find any places that fit the bill but I seem to have too many options. If anyone can help me seperate the wheat from the chaff, I would appreciate it.

Posted by: The Lisa

Re: Backpacking recommendation - 04/10/08 10:00 PM

It's great to be spoiled for choice! Hopefully you have the Catskill map set for reference when reading this (and backpacking gear in general)-
One loop that comes to mind is an 18-miler (approx.) starting at the northern part of the Escarpment Trail and going over the Blackhead Range. It is only 18 miles but you get a good long climb up Wyndham and up Blackhead Mtn, then over Black Head and Thomas Cole Mtns. There is a bit of a road walk involved at the end(about 3.4mi) going through the resurrected town of Maplecrest but otherwise you are in the woods with many great viewpoints opening up along the way. The trailhead is at Peck Road, near Maplecrest. There is a shelter on the Batavia Kill
This link shows the area:

Hope this helps. If I look at the maps I can come up with others
Posted by: fluffstravels

Re: Backpacking recommendation - 04/14/08 02:51 PM

Awesome. Thanks for the recommendation, this looks perfect.

Is tent camping legit off this trail? Any overnight fees? ...or do park authorities just look the other way provided you are low impact camping?

Thanks again for the recommendation.
Posted by: pedestrian

Re: Backpacking recommendation - 04/14/08 04:34 PM

AFAIK, you can camp anywhere on state land below 3500 ft elevation as long as you're at least 200 feet away from the trail or from water, or at a designated site. Above 3500 feet it is designated sites only. There are no fees.
Posted by: The Lisa

Re: Backpacking recommendation - 04/14/08 08:32 PM

Low impact, Leave No Trace camping is encouraged. Pedestrian is correct outlining the rules for the Catskills in particular. I once mistakenly camped too close to a trail one night and got a stern talking-to from a passing ranger the next morning so they do patrol the trails.
There are bears out there so hanging your food, toiletries, everything but yourself, etc. is recommended. Bear cannisters are not mandatory like in the Adirondacks. I have had porcupines scrounge around at night though, and one backpacker friend had to move out of the leanto and bivy outside after the resident mouse ran across his face for the 4th time.
You should also consider doing loops on the Devil's Path - steep climbs and tough trails but great views. Leantos and brooks can be found in the notches and there are numerous loops, although some road walking is always involved. It is something to build up to at least.
Posted by: Mim

Re: Backpacking recommendation - 04/22/08 08:38 PM

When are you planning to do this? Depending on where you go, there is still some compacted ice on the trail on top of some peaks right now and it makes for v-e-r-y slow going... I went on a hike this past Saturday, with the intent on doing the Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide loop and couldn't cross over Cornell because the ice was so bad in this one particular spot. Crampons would have done it, but putting them on/off would have been a pain...

If you are going in May-June, then you will have lots of friends with you, very small friends, the biting type friends... and that can be truly annoying too.

Going for a couple of days is a good way to start though. Have fun!
Posted by: Dillbag

Re: Backpacking recommendation - 04/22/08 09:58 PM

For those ice covered spots you may consider getting a pair of the stretchy rubber/chain "crampons" they've got over at Rock&Snow...

They just slip right on, no bail, no strap to fiddle with... Just stretch em on...
Posted by: Aya

Re: Backpacking recommendation - 04/23/08 12:43 AM

yaktrax are better for snow... stabilicers better for ice (they pull on, also, but have little studs like the tip of a trekking pole, not chains).
Posted by: pedestrian

Re: Backpacking recommendation - 04/24/08 10:37 PM

nah yaktrax suck. They are not durable. I destroyed my pair on the second day out with them.

check out the kahtoola micro spikes. they look to be much better. I think those are the new ones that Dill's referring to.