Kaaterskill Falls

I was pretty excited when Rich suggested taking a day trip to Kaaterskill Falls. He’s talked about the falls before, and I could hardly wait to see them for myself. I was also aware of a letterbox hidden somewhere nearby, and immediately I put that on the list of possible activities for the day along with a few survey marks and a geocache.

We began our day with a search for benchmark NA0423, right in the heart of Palenville. It was another fiercely guarded mark! We found the mark without being seen, but I’d advise against wandering on the grounds of the old library unless you want to be screamed at by a nasty teenage “princess” who thinks she owns the place. A search for two other marks along Route 23A (NA0426 and NA0427) was not so successful.

We then continued up the highway, managed to find a parking spot and hiked through the cool woods toward the falls. Dodging tourists and teenagers hanging out at the base of the falls, we made our way to the boulder and found “S. Root” without any trouble. We followed the clues and within a minute Rich was pulling the letterbox out from its hiding spot. No one seemed to be paying much attention as we stamped in, even though there was a family posing for photographs a little too close for my comfort.

The rest of our day was spent exploring the falls en route to the Kaaterskill Falls geocache; Rich’s log and my log detail the entire adventure thoroughly.

Today's Geocache

    Hi, Jeannine!

    Today was as close to perfect as a summer day can get. This was my first trip to this area of the Catskills, and I can see why you like it so much you decided to put some virtual caches here!

    Rich and I began our day by searching for a benchmark (NA0423) near an old building right in the middle of Palenville. Everything went smoothly until I approached the building to inquire about its history. I was promptly ordered to leave by a rude, snotty teenaged intern of some sort. Hey, it’s always an adventure. icon_smile_evil When we were ready, we left and continued on up the highway. We squeezed out a spot in one of the parking areas near the falls trailhead and headed down the shoulderless road toward the trail. (I love these narrow, winding mountain highways!) The trail was beautiful and we walked slowly savoring the sights and smells of the wilderness. After only half a mile of hiking, the falls came into view. Awesome! We spent time at the lower level among kids and gawking tourists, and when we could slip away unnoticed we took a moment to search for a letterbox that’s hidden near the base of the falls.

    We hadn’t planned to (in fact, we had planned not to) but once in the area we couldn’t resist trying to climb just a little higher alongside the falls. We made it to the middle level, where we walked a narrow trail behind the falling water. In the interest of time, we decided to climb no higher. Rich drove us to the top instead, where we hiked to the top of the falls, at some point realizing that we had not seen along the way the object that we were supposed to find to log this virtual cache. Not to worry, we enjoyed a little picnic in the sunshine and then made a nice loop out of several trails on South Mountain, hiking slowly past gorgeous views of nearby mountains and of the valley with the Hudson River in the distance. We eventually found the simplest way to the cache, after we’d finished our main hike and changed out of our sweaty clothes. The memorial was identified immediately, and then we continued down to the top of the falls (we were on the other side this time) and spent some time reading the old carvings and taking photos. By then, we were thoroughly worn out and ready for dinner!

    One of the best things about this day was our relaxed, slow pace. We had no major goals other than to explore the area and enjoy our day off. We’d arrived with a general idea of a few things we might like to see while in the ares, and we didn’t even get to do half of them because we took our time to so thoroughly enjoy what we did see. There’s no better way to live while on vacation … and though this was only one short day, it felt like a real vacation. And now we’ve got quite a few reasons to come back. Thanks for providing a unique motivation for our hike and one that had us going in circles a few times! There are trails we wouldn’t have seen were it not for your cache.


    Howdy, Jeannine!

    Visiting the ‘Gunks region in NY is always a noteworthy and anticipation-filled adventure for me. This day was certainly no different. Zhanna was most agreeable when I suggested a trip to Kaaterskill Falls as one of our nearly-weekly Geocaching and benchmark hunting get-togethers. I had been here once before in the late 1980’s and recall having made the steep hike from the bottom of the falls to the top, and later continuing along a section of the Escarpment Trail to the overlooks facing the Hudson Valley to the east. But much of my memory of that previous visit is rather indistinct now—except, for example, a scary little slip I took while attempting to hop across the stream at the head of the falls, which suddenly made me realize how easy it would’ve been to get swept right over the edge! Fortunately, only my ego ended up a bit bruised and my butt a little wet. I was much more cautious this time.

    The day started shortly after 7:00am when I picked up Zhanna at her place and commenced the two-and-a-half hour drive to Palenville, NY. We stopped in the middle of town at the main intersection for a successful NGS benchmark recovery, and then looked for but couldn’t find two more marks along Rt. 23A near each of the parking areas for the lower falls trail.

    From the westernmost parking lot we hiked at an easy pace to the base of the falls, lingered there for a while, taking in the views, and then searched for and found a letterbox that Zhanna was interested in. From here we scrambled up the precipitous unofficial trail to the base of the upper falls, worked our way across the amphitheatre behind the falls to the opposite side, while snapping photos along the way and carefully avoiding the ubiquitous and lush patches of poison ivy. Still wishing to do the virtual geocache at the top, as well as hiking more of the upper trail system, we returned to the car and drove to the Scutt Road parking area.

    The view from the head of the falls was as spectacular (and as unnerving) as I’d remembered it to be. But we sat on a large flat boulder that forms the ledge and enjoyed a noontime snack. A family of four came to wade in the swirling pools only a few yards upstream. The remainder of the afternoon was spent exploring the loop formed by the blue-blazed Escarpment Trail via Layman Monument, Sunset Rock, Inspiration Point, and the Kaaterskill Hotel Site, and returning on the red-blazed Scutt Road Trail. The views across Kaaterskill Clove were breathtaking, with the slopes of Hunter Mountain in the distance. After the long, sweaty trek (about 5 miles) we changed into dry clothes. Feeing much more refreshed our last task was to drive down Laurel House Road, park at the turn-around at the end and make the short hike to the monument, and then out to the top of the falls once again for one last look in the light of the setting sun.

    Thanks so much for providing the opportunity for me to revisit this incredibly beautiful and exciting spot.

    ~Rich in NEPA~

Today's Survey Mark

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