Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hiking - Plotterkill Preserve

Normally, if I go for a walk in a local preserve, I call it a "walk", not a "hike". The Plotterkill Preserve is the one exception to that rule. The trails are many and varied, but all involve some level of steepness. Today, with temps again in the 60s, I did the long red trail loop, clockwise, to the lower end of the preserve, about a 5-6 mile distance with 1200-1600 feet of climbing total. That's a little more than a "walk".

The 60' high upper falls had more water going over it than I expected to see after a week or two of relatively dry weather.

I didn't add on any side trails today, or descend to the bottom of any of the major waterfalls. At the lower end of the preserve, I decided to take the high-water route (blue) just in case there might be a problem with the red trail's crossing of the stream. This trail gets much less use, and it had been years since I'd hiked it. I was amazed at the amount of storm debris that had been dredged out of the stream at the culverts that pass under the NYS Thruway. This must have been quite a torrent to see after tropical storms Irene and Lee, and the entire stream bed showed the effects of those storms.

Just after crossing the stream and rejoining the red trail, a yellow side trail leads to one of my favorite cascades here, and I always stop for a drink and a rest to enjoy them.

Next came the 400' steady climb back out of the gorge and up onto the south rim. Once on top, the trail continues along the rim to a mowed gas pipeline junction below the Coplon Road parking area. Here, the red trail descends back into the gorge, recrosses the stream, and climbs back up to rejoin the trail I used coming in along the north rim. It was about a 3-hour walk altogether at a leisurely pace, and until the very end, I had almost the entire place to myself, on what is probably the last of these spectacular warm November days.

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