• 1:30 PM Start
  • 3:30 PM Summit Halcott, 15 minute break
  • 5:00 PM Back at car

  • Tracks: AllTrails, eBird, eBird 2
  • Conditions: Cool (60 degrees), dry

GPS Track of the hike

Between the start of rock climbing season and ambitious spring garden plans, it’s been nearly two months since I hiked in the Catskills! But this past weekend, Alex said she wanted to go on a hike, and I couldn’t let the opportunity go to waste. I’m not sure Alex meant “in the Catskills” or “the next day,” but that’s what we decided to do. I’d been meaning to hike Halcott again since my adventure last spring. And after my last hike, I left my credit card at Brio’s, so I was happy for an excuse to try and reclaim it.

It was hot and summery in the Hudson Valley, but rapidly cooled down as we made our way up to the Catskills. It was no warmer than 60° F at the start of the hike and it was cooler than that at the summit. Alex wore a jacket most of the time. Quite the contrast to the surprise 90° days I got in April last year!

We were the only car in the Halcott lot and we never saw anyone else the whole day. We were immediately greeted by bird songs: a Winter Wren and a Louisiana Waterthrush. We took a look at the waterfall before making our way towards the herd path.

Halcott Waterfall

I remembered the critical trail junction clearly from last year: cross the waterfall and go left, not right, whatever direction the herd path looks like it’s going. This part of the path was a bit unclear and muddy. Alex asked if I was lost. But soon we started to gain altitude and the path cleared up. It was crystal clear all the way to the summit canister.

In the woods

We passed through the giant Hemlock grove that I remembered and continued to hear huge numbers of birds. It felt like early spring: cool weather and singing birds. We heard lots of Red-eyed Vireos, Indigo Buntings, Ovenbirds, Blackburnian Warblers, Hermit Thrush, Swainson’s Thrush, and Veery. We saw a Blue-headed Vireo and a pair of American Redstarts. We heard a Rose-breasted Grosbeak but didn’t see it on the hike.

Amongst the Nettles

The understory was incredibly full and lush. At first we decided the dominant plant was Hobblebush, but Alex later revised this to Nettles. Fortunately we were both wearing long pants so we didn’t get stung. It makes sense that the deer leave these alone! It reminded me of a scene from River Cottage, where Hugh participates in a Nettle eating contest.

We saw huge numbers of Trilliums near the path, but they all looked a few weeks past flower. I’ll have to do this hike again in May sometime.

Trillium post peak

Even though the path was clear and relatively short, it was still quite steep! There’s a moment near the top where it looks like you hit a vertical wall. We were very happy to reach the summit canister and break for lunch. We were the first people there since the weekend.

Dan with Summit Canister

I had a vague memory from last time that there was a possible viewpoint I should scout out. The AllTrails map had one marked right next to the summit, so we had our lunch there. Re-reading my post from last year, the Avenza map had a star farther away from the summit. So I’ll have to check that out another time.

Summit Lunch

The hike down was speedy: 1h15m down vs 2h up. When we got back to the parking lot, we saw a bird flying around near the car. It was the Rose-breasted Grosbeak!

We grabbed to-go dinner at Brio’s on the way back. Unfortunately they’d shredded all their credit cards last week! Back home we watched the Nettle eating contest. The trick is to drink some hot sauce first to fry your taste buds!

A summer bushwhack in the books. No spectacular viewpoints, but it was nice to be in the woods amongst the birds. Alex has ten peaks to go on her 3500 list!