MTHS Blog

Celebrating Justine Hommel!
Unveiling of the Justine L. Hommel Memorial Highway

Please join us in a champagne toast to a dear friend and a grand lady of the Mountain Top! (All are encouraged to wear Justine’s favorite color, red-- a flower, a scarf, a hat!)

Saturday June 2, 11:00 am at Mountain Top Historical Society (MTHS) Campus, Route 23A, Haines Falls, FREE
Contact:

Come join the MTHS in honoring Catskill Mountain icon Justine Hommel and celebrate the unveiling of the entrance to Kaaterskill Clove, Route 23A as the Justine L. Hommel Memorial Highway. With the sponsorship and great efforts of Assemblyman Peter Lopez and Senator George Amedore, the New York State Assembly and Senate passed bills that officially memorialize Justine’s contributions to New York State and Greene County history. This winter, Governor Cuomo signed those bills into law. The bill states in part:

Ms. Justine L. Hommel passed away on October 17, 2016, leaving a void within the Greene County community. A lifelong resident of Haines Falls, a hamlet located in the Town of Hunter, Greene County, Ms. Hommel dedicated her life to preserving the Catskill Mountain's natural beauty and championed its historical significance to American culture.
Ms. Hommel was responsible for ensuring the beauty of scenic roadways decades before anyone was noticing the significance of preserving this historic landscape. Her insistence on natural rather than man-made materials resulted in the stone retaining walls, rather than concrete, at the entrance to the Kaaterskill Clove on State Route 23A. Ms. Hommel's committed efforts ultimately led to part of State Route 23A being included as part of the Mountain Cloves Scenic Byway and it is only fitting that we designate this portion of roadway in her honor.
The "Justine L. Hommel Memorial Highway" will be a constant reminder of Ms. Hommel's remarkable contributions to the mountaintop region of Greene County and her life-long dedication to enhancing and preserving the natural splendor of the Catskill Mountains landscape. Here, State Senator George Almedore Jr. presents a copy of the official designation to Society President Cyndi LaPierre.

The view from Pine Orchard made famous by the Catskill Mountain House has, in recent years, been increasingly obscured by brush growing at the brink and trees growing at the base of the cliff known as the Wall of Manitou. Throughout the 19th Century the view had been featured in paintings, engravings and photographs and praised in poetry and literature.

Pine Orchard Looking North 12/24/2017

Above - Pine Orchard Looking North December 24, 2017.     ----      Below - Looking South from the same point.

When asked what could be seen from the ledge, Natty Bumpo, James Fenimore Cooper’s hero of the Leather-Stocking tales, replied :

"Creation," said Natty, dropping the end of his rod into the water, and sweeping one hand around him in a circle, "all creation, lad. I was on that hill when Vaughan burned ‘Sopus in the last war; and I saw the vessels come out of the Highlands as plain as I can see that lime- scow rowing into the Susquehanna, though one was twenty times farther from me than the other. The river was in sight for seventy miles, looking like a curled shaving under my feet, though it was eight long miles to its banks. I saw the hills in the Hampshire grants, the highlands of the river, and all that God had done, or man could do, far as eye could reach-you know that the Indians named me for my sight, lad ; and from the flat on the top of that mountain, I have often found the place where Albany stands. And as for ‘Sopus, the day the royal troops burnt the town, the smoke seemed so nigh, that I thought I could hear the screeches of the women."

Thanks to the efforts of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the work of the Operations Field Crew: Brett Byrne, Brendan O'Brien, Robert Aslaskon and Tyler Proper, that view of Creation has been cleared to an extent not seen in years. Once again the view up and down the Hudson Valley from Albany to the Shawangunks and into Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut is open and clear. It is now available as a beautiful place to stop during a walk for lunch, to pause for quiet contemplation, to bring students for an inspiring class visit or for an Easter morning Sunrise Service.

New York State Licensed Guide Moe Lemire will be leading a series of outdoor events this winter. These fundraiser events will include a hike, a snowshoe walk and a cross-country ski excursion. The $10 requested donation for each event will benefit the Mountain Top Historical Society.
 

Loop Hike From MTHS around North/South Lake

Friday December 15
9 am - 2 pm (End time based on speed of hikers)
Distance: roughly 8 miles round trip -- longer if side excursions are taken
Level of difficulty: Easy to Moderate (slight inclines near campground road and terrain around lake)
Fee: $10.00 Donation
 
Come explore North/South Lake Campground in the off-season. Experience the solace of the Lake without the crowds.
This hike will begin at the parking area for the Mountain Top Historical Society in Haines Falls. We will walk the KRT trail to the new bridge crossing over the creek. We will then follow the yellow horse trail to the North/South Lake Road crossing over the dam and joining up with the yellow trail. We will follow the yellow trail around North/South Lake through the campground. We then will cross the road taking the horse trail back to the KRT and ending back at the Mountain Top Historical Society.
 
What to bring with you.
- Water - Snacks or a light lunch
- Warm clothes
- Dress in layers (Hat + Gloves too)
- Backpack - Hand and Foot warmers
- Yaktrax or microspikes in case of patches of ice
- Boots if snow cover is on ground
- Second pair of dry socks
- Tissues
- Chapstick
 
Snowshoe Hike to Kaaterskill Falls Viewing Platform
Saturday January 13
12 pm - 3 pm (End time based on speed of snowshoeing) 
Distance: Roughly 3 miles round trip
Level of difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Fee $10.00 

Come see Kaaterskill Falls in all her glory from the winter perspective. See how the waterfall and surrounding land become a winter spectacular. This snowshoe will depart from the MTHS campus and proceed along the KRT 1.5 miles to the Laurel House Road parking area. From there, we will follow the path down to the Kaaterskill Falls viewing platform. Once folks are ready to depart we will retrace our footsteps back up the trail to the parking area. Then we will follow the KRT back to the Mountain Top Historical Society.
Folks wishing to participate on this walk need to bring their own snowshoes. At this time we do not have the ability to rent snowshoes but if this proves to be a popular walk we can look into snowshoe rental.
If folks wish to come on this walk without snowshoes a pair of microspikes would be highly recommended for possibility of ice on trail.
 
Eight participants joined Moe Lemire for the afternoon trek along the KRT to the new viewing platform above the falls. On the way they were able to get a glimpse of both tiers of the falls enhanced by the ice from our long deep freeze and the brief warm spell of the past two days. (Photo by Moe.)

What to bring with you.
- Water
- Snacks or a light lunch
- Warm clothes
- Dress in layers (Hat + Gloves too)
- Backpack
- Hand and Foot warmers
- Yaktrax or microspikes in case of patches of ice
- Boots if snow cover is on the ground
- Second pair of dry socks
- Tissues
- Chapstick
 
Cross-Country Ski the KRT to South Lake Road
Saturday February 10
10 am - 2 pm (End time based on speed of cross-country skiers)
Distance: Roughly 5 miles
Level of difficulty: Moderate
Fee $10.00
 
Come explore the beauty of the forest during winter time. Come cross-country ski the KRT from The Mountain Top Historical Society.
We will meet at the parking area at The Mountain Top Historical Society and cross-country ski the KRT. We will then cross over the new bridge over the creek and continue on the horse trail to the South Lake Road. We will follow South Lake road to the beach parking area and then if folks want to continue on to the Catskill Mountain House Site. From here we will retrace our path, following the South Lake Road to the horse trail back to the KRT and finally ending at The Mountain Top Historical Site. Folks who join can make this as short or as long of a cross-country ski and I am allotting 4 hours. 
Folks wishing to participate on this cross-country ski need to bring their own skis. At this time MTHS does not have the ability to rent cross-country skis but if this proves to be popular we can look into rentals in the future.

What to bring with you.
- Water
- Snacks or a light lunch
- Warm clothes
- Dress in layers (Hat + Gloves too)
- Backpack
- Hand and Foot warmers
- Second pair of dry socks
- Tissues
- Chapstick
 
Things to know
All of these outdoor events will take place during the winter season. Winter activity can require different planning than that for spring, summer and fall. All of these activities are on easy to moderate terrain, but in winter conditions ice and snow can be slippery even on flat terrain. Having proper items with you is imperative. Dress in warm layered clothes which can be removed or added back as the body warms and cools. Bring plenty of water and snacks to keep energy levels up. You burn more calories in winter conditions which keeps the body warm. Carrying a backpack to hold items will make carrying what you need much easier. These events can happen during light snow. Any major storm or rain will postpone the event  and a new date determined. Moe Lemire is a trained and licensed guide. He is CPR and first aid certified. Exploring the outdoors during the winter can be a rewarding experience. 
 
MTHS does not require membership for hike participation. We do however request that you register for each hike. Participants can register on our contacts page or by calling (518) 589-6657. Please leave your name, phone number, and # in your party. Schedule subject to change. The latest information is available on our web site http://www.mths.org. Notification of changes, including cancellations due to weather will be made on the web site up to the day of any given hike.

MTHS hosts 4th Annual Hikefest
Saturday, October 7th, 2017


It’s that time of year again for Hike Fest with the Mountain Top Historical Society on Rt. 23A in Haines Falls. This year we will feature 4 hikes ranging in various intensity levels. All hikes will meet at 9:00 am and leave from the KRT parking lot on the Mountain Top Historical Society campus.  Following the hikes around noon, lunch will be available.  Lunch will be hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill with all the fixings including salads, cold drinks and dessert.  Jeff and Doug Senterman have graciously agreed to be our Grillmasters.  The cost per person for lunch is $10, reservations required.    After lunch (about 1:00 p.m.) MTHS board member Moe Lemire will speak about his recent through hike on the Appalachian Trail. Moe’s talk will be illustrated with lots of his photos taken along the trail.

Hike #1: North Point (Difficult) - 4.7 miles round trip --- New York State licensed guide Moe Lemire will lead this 4.7 mile round trip hike to North Point. This hike will begin at the parking area on Scutt Road. The hike will begin following the yellow marked Rock Shelter trail. The terrain for the first 1.3 miles will be a fairly level grade with some gradual accents through rock filled trail. The hike then will take the red marked Mary's Glen trail for .8 miles ascending steeply up to open ledges. One last steep rise for .25 miles to the lookout of North Point. From the open ledges of North Point you will be able to see into the Hudson Valley as well as views of North and South Lake. The hike then will return to the parking area via the same trails back.

Hike #2 Layman Monument and beyond along the Escarpment (Moderate) — 3.5 miles round trip. Guide book author and long-time MTHS hike leader Bob Gildersleeve will head up this hike which will offer several options depending on hiking pace, time and stamina of the hikers. Maximum hike length will be 3.5 miles. After carpooling to a parking area off North Lake Road, we will take the blue-marked trail for .7 mile to Layman Monument. The hike will continue along the blue trail past many spectacular view points. When the trail meets the yellow-marked horse trail, the group has the option to loop back to the parking area or to continue on to Sunset Rock and even further to Inspiration Point. The group will return to the parking area via the same trails.

Hike #3 Kaaterskill Rail Trail to the Falls. Easy/Moderate - 3.5 miles round trip ---This hike led by Pete Senterman will leave directly from the Mountain Top Historic Train Station and follow the newly completed Kaaterskill Rail Trail for a total roundtrip of 3.5 miles. The first 1.5 miles of this hike will follow along the old railroad bed and the grade is fairly flat. When the trail reaches the junction it is .25 miles down to the viewing platform for Kaaterskill Falls. The hike then will retrace and follow the rail trail back to the Train Station. This hike also has the option to continue on the trail over the newly constructed bridge and descend down to the bottom of the falls.

Hike #4 Platte Clove Preserve Nature Loop Trail and Falls (Easy) - 1.25 miles --- ADK 4600 hiker and MTHS board member Nancy Allen, will begin this hike at the Platte Clove Preserve Red Cabin. The hike will follow the blue trail from the cabin and branch off to the newly built nature trail loop. The hike will follow out to a view into Platte Clove and past some old ruins. The hike will loop back to the blue trail, following it back to the Red Cabin. The hikers will return to the Red Cabin and then descend down .5 miles to the base of the Plattekill Falls and return to the Red Cabin for rides back to the MTHS campus.

MTHS does not require membership for hike participation. We do however request that you register for each hike. Participants can register on our contacts page, by calling (518) 589-6657 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please leave your name, phone number, # in your party and the hike for which you are registering.  Also indicate if you plan to join us for lunch.  Schedule subject to change. The latest information is available on our web site http://www.mths.org. In case of rain, some hikes may be postponed, but the rest of our Hike Fest program (lunch and talk) will continue as scheduled. We look forward to seeing you on October 7.