Saturday, June 13, 2009

Hiking - North/South Lake - Catskills

Holly wanted to get out for a short hike today, and having heard that the season's blackflies had pretty much gone from the northern Catskills, we headed for the North-South Lake State Campsite, which has many hiking trails along the Catskill Escarpment. The trails look out over not only the Hudson River Valley to the east, but to the lakes and the campsite below.

Along the way on the Escarpment Trail, I heard a small shriek and Holly skipped ahead. I looked at my feet and saw this snake, which then slithered off into the brush. Holly kept going, and I snapped a picture for future identification purposes.

When I got home, my first inclination after spending some time online was that this was a Northern Copperhead, one of New York's few venomous snakes. They are known in this area of the Catskills, and it mostly seemed right. The pattern of the brown splotches didn't quite fit, though, so I dug a little deeper, and discovered it was an Eastern Milk Snake, a harmless snake even often kept as a pet. They're often mistaken for copperheads, and the patterns were a perfect match.

After that excitement, we continued on to Artist's Rock, Lookout Rock, and Sunset Rock. The first two provided fine views of the Hudson Valley below.

Sunset Rock faced toward the southwest, with a nice view of the lakes, as well as of Kaaterskill High Peak and its neighbor Round Top.

Finally, we headed back down the Mary's Glen Trail, with a stop at Ashley Falls.

Reaching the campground road, we headed back to the car, and drove down to Haines Falls and had some ice cream before driving home.

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