2019 Hikes and Events
April 14th (Sun) :Hike Mountain Top Arboretum. Spring has sprung! Meet MTHS hike leader, Nancy Allen, at the Mountain Top Arboretum at 1:00 p.m. for a spring walk through the flora waking up to a new season. The easy walk will be around trip of about 3 ½ miles going from the Arboretum to the trails on the Hathaway property and back via the marsh. The exact route will be determined by the conditions on the day of the hike. Choose footwear that will keep your feet dry.
May 11 (Sat) Hike: Hotel Kaaterskill Grounds, led by Bob Gildersleeve – The Hotel Kaaterskill, said at the time to be the largest mountain hotel in the world, was started as a result of the legendary “Chicken War” between Philadelphia lawyer George Harding and Charles L. Beach, the owner of the Catskill Mountain House. Since then it has sparked our interest and the interest of our members and friends. A newly discovered survey document from 1883 has provided so much additional information that we are prompted to revisit the site. Meet at the Historical Society’s U&D train station on the MTHS campus in Haines Falls at 9:00 a.m. for a 30-minute presentation about the document, then carpool to North-South Lake State Park (entrance fee per car or free with Empire Pass) to begin our walk to the Hotel Kaaterskill site. This is a moderate hike of about 4 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 400 feet. Planned return at 3:00 pm. Bring a lunch and water. Sturdy shoes and long pants are recommended. More details see this description. 5/12/2019 Update: Fourteen enthusiastic hikers spent the morning and early afternoon of a picture-perfect day sharing, discovering and interpreting new details about the structure and operation of the Hotel Kaaterskill. It couldn't have been done without the NYS Dept. of Conservation's stewardship of the land, the Free Library of Philadelphia's preservation and sharing of the 1883 survey of the property, and George M. Harding's gift of his collection of unique photos of the hotel. Thanks to all.
May 17 (Fri) 7:00 p.m. Train Station Reading the Rocks of the Catskills: A Geological History by Dr. Chuck Ver Straeten, Geologist, New York State Museum What do the rocks of the Catskills tell us about this place nearly 400 million years ago? Rivers were draining Andes-scale mountains in New England. The water, sand, and mud were on their way to a shallow sea to the west. Some of Earth’s oldest forests were scattered across the land, with primitive plants and animals living here long before the dinosaurs. And, yes, all of this was happening when we were 30 degrees south of the equator. Stretch your sense of time, place, and history, exploring the rocks of the Catskills.
May 18 (Sat). The Gunks are calling! Explore the Peter’s Kill Area of Minnewaska State Park Preserve. Hike a variety of trails and terrains with MTHS member Athena Billias and MTHS VP Adrienne Larys. We will explore sections of the Bullwheel, High Peter’s Kill and Red Loop footpaths. Depending on the interests of the participants we will cover 3.5 to 6 miles. Rating: moderate due to length and some steep sections. Meet at 8:30 a.m. at the Kingston Thruway Exit Park & Ride for car pooling; or at 9:30 a.m. at the Peter’s Kill Park Office parking lot on Rt 44/55 between Rt 299 and Rt 209: Cost: $10 per car to be shared by those who carpool. Registration required by Friday, May 17, at 3:30 p.m. Sturdy footwear highly recommended. Trekking poles or walking sticks will be useful in some sections. Return to trailhead at approximately 3:30 p.m.
June 8 (Sat) South Mountain by the historic Direct Path.
To honor the gift of an original Catskill Mountain House hiking stick donated by Kathy (Van Schaack) Boyer and Peggy (Van Schaack) Phillips, we will take a popular 19th
Century path from the Mountain House site on Pine Orchard to sites on South Mountain. This now unusual route will pass through the first ledge on South Mountain (sometimes called the Lemon Squeezer) take a short detour to Druid Rocks, pass through Puddingstone Hall, and reach the state trail at Bootjack Rock. Once on the modern trail, we will see the lookout called the Sphinx, walk on to "Bowlder" Rock and offer optional excursion through Fat Man’s Delight to the Natural Bridge.
The pristine CMH walking stick joins our other walking stick from the Hotel Kaaterskill which was donated to MTHS by the Mohonk Barn Museum. The new gift is in too fine a condition to risk carrying it through the whole walk, but we will bring it to Pine Orchard for an official presentation. The hike is considered Easy to Moderate with a short bushwhack. We will provide an easier alternative route along the state trail to Bowlder Rock but missing the sites before we reach the modern trail. Meet at 9:00 am at the MTHS campus wear appropriate shoes for hiking bring lunch and water. Return mid afternoon.
Some additional notes on this hike:
We're calling this hike easy to moderate but, because the first part is on an unmarked path through rarely trodden woods, it will involve a few short but steep hills and a few waist-high ledges that may require a hand up for inexperienced hikers. We may get a bit dirty and I recommend wearing sturdy clothing including long pants as well as appropriate shoes. We will take the trail at a comfortable pace for all hikers and will stop to see sites that have been enjoyed by vacationing hikers for more than 195 years. This will be fun and I encourage most hikers not to miss an opportunity to see how 19th century vacationers explored the grounds of the Catskill Mountain House.
June 9 (Sun) 3:30 p.m. Early History of the New York State Wild Forest known as Colgate Lake. 1 hour program by Elaine Warfield in the Ulster and Delaware TrainStation. In the early to mid 1800's the "Colgate Lake" area was primarily farmland, woodlots and sawmill operations. Located on the Stock Farm Road and later purchased by Gilbert Colgate of the Colgate Company, the area has evolved today into a 1500 acre parcel under the management of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
June 14 (Fri) 7:00 p.m. Dan Peck on Thomas Cole
, Presentation in the U&D Train
Station. Doctor H. Daniel Peck, John Guy Vassar Professor Emeritus of English at Vassar
College, is the founding director of the College’s Environmental Studies Program and a former director of its American Culture Program.
He is the author of Thoreau’s Morning Work and
The Pastoral Moment in Cooper’s Fiction, both
books published by Yale University Press. Professor Peck’s other publications include two Penguin Classics editions of Thoreau’s works, the Oxford World’s
Classics edition of Cooper’s Deerslayer, and the
Barnes and Noble Classics edition of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer. A contributor to the
Cambridge Literary History of the United States and the Heath Anthology of American Literature, he is a past chairman of the Modern Language Association’s Division on Nineteenth-Century American Literature. Professor Peck has received two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship. He has directed two NEH Summer Institutes for College and University Faculty, as well as a national NEH conference. His current research links American literature and landscape painting, and in recent years he has often team-taught at Vassar with an art historian. Recent examples of his work on painters are an article on Asher B. Durand, in American Literary History (Oxford University Press), and one on Georgia O’Keeffe in American Art (Smithsonian Museum publication). His current project, funded by an Andrew W. Mellon Emeritus Fellowship, is a study of the overlapping careers of the landscape painter Thomas Cole and the novelist James Fenimore Cooper.
Join the Mountain Top Historical Society on Friday, June 14th at 7:00 p.m. for a presentation in the U&D Train Station by Dan Peck, John Guy Vassar, Jr., Professor Emeritus of English at Vassar College. Dan will describe the scholarly and on-the-ground research that lead to his new book, “Thomas Cole’s Refrain: The Paintings of Catskill Creek”. Dr. Peck is also curator of the current exhibit, with the same name, at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site which runs from May 4 to Nov. 3. Reception and book signing to follow. A $ 5.00 donation is suggested.
June 29 (Sat) 10 a.m. In the Footsteps of John Bartram: Native Plant Tour of the Catskills with Carol Woodin, at the Mountain Top Arboretum Education Center co-hosted with the Mountain Top Historical Society. $10 per person, free to Mountain Top Arboretum and Mountain Top Historical Society Members. After the lecture we will take our cars a short drive to the Mountain Top Historical Society Visitors’ Center (in Haines Falls) to park and arrange carpooling to North/South Lake. There we’ll walk in the footsteps of the Bartrams, following their salient journal entries. Carol, Paul Harwood and Robert Gildersleeve will lead us in retracing fascinating local botanical history. Bring a bag lunch for group picnicking, proper clothing/shoes for being outdoors and a water bottle.
July 7,(Sunday) 2019 at 4 PM – 8 PM Join us for an evening soiree with Kim Hawkey and Band to celebrate the rich history of the Catskills. The event will take place at the historic Haines Falls Train Depot. Look forward to refreshments and hors d'oeuvres in the train station and a performance by Kim Hawkey with music from and inspired by the Catskills.
Proceeds from the "Song of the Catskills will benefit the Mountain Top Historic Society and go towards the maintenance and repair of the train station.
Kim Hawkey is an accomplished musician whose music harkens back to times past and is the perfect artist to help celebrate and support the work of the Mountain Top Historic Society.
July 13 (Sat) 10:00 a.m. MTHS will hold its Annual Meeting at the Train Station. Members of the MTHS are invited to attend.
July 14, 2019, Sunday. A Rock Walk Platte Clove with NYS Geologist, Dr. Charles Ver Straeten. Meet in the KRT parking lot at the MTHS campus in Haines Falls at 10:00 a.m. to carpool to the Catskill Center property in Platte Clove. Chuck Ver Straeten will share some of his extensive knowledge about the rocks of the Catskills on this hike to the quarries in the Devil’s Kitchen area and on to Codfish Point. Pack water and a lunch. This is a moderate hike of about 4 mi. round trip with an elevation change of approximately 700 ft. [Edited to reflect distance (was 5 mi.) and elevation (was 1000ft) corrections thanks to Carol and David White]
Note: We will not be descending into Platte Clove. Most of the hike is along the trail toward Overlook Mountain and visiting the quarry at Codfish Point with a possible bushwhack to a quarry on Plattekill Mountain.
July 26 (Fri) 7:00 p.m. The Justine L. Hommel Memorial Lecture – Talk about Hudson River School Artist Sanford Robinson Gifford by Peter Jung at Twilight Park Clubhouse. For the past 27 years Peter Jung has owned a gallery at #512 Warren St. in Hudson, NY featuring traditional American paintings. During that time he has handled many examples of the Hudson River school of art (1825- 1875), a style of painting that is an important part of our national heritage. Jung has served on the Board of Directors at the Olana Partnership, the Hudson Opera House, the Hudson Planning Commission, and the Friends of Hudson. In recent years he has restored the family gravesite of the great artist Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823-1880), who is at rest in the Hudson City Cemetery. The slideshow features 70 images, and will be followed by a question-and-answer conversation.
August 24 (Sat) 10:00 a.m. Rip’s Country Bazaar /Open House – Note the corrected starting time!The MTHS campus will be filled with tents full of vendors: craftspeople, antique dealers, local food products, flea market items and more. Food for fun and food for lunch will be available for purchase. The Visitors’ Center will be open for browsing maps, books, brochures, or checking out the Archives. Wildflowers and grass for running around. It will be a beautiful day for chatting with friends and family, learning something new about local history, or finding treasures among the offerings of over 35 vendors. The excitement begins at 9:00 a.m. and continues all day! Come on over to the Mountain Top Historical Society’s campus on Route 23A in Haines Falls and join in the fun. Check our website as more details become available.
September 14 (Sat) Our 6th Annual Postcard Show – 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. @ the U&D Train Station. Food will be available. The MTHS will also be selling ephemera from its attic in a special sale. A $3.00 entry fee will be charged at the door
October 11 (Fri) 7:00 p.m. Train Station Ice Age Talk Robrt & Johanna Titus in the U&D Train Station. Writers, Robert and Johanna Titus, introduce their newest book “The Catskills in the Ice Age.” It’s a greatly expanded and revised version of a book first published in 1996.
On Saturday, October 12, 2019 The Mountain Top Historical Society’s Haines Falls campus will be the place to begin your Columbus Day Weekend. Starting in the KRT parking lot behind the Visitors' Center on Route 23A, there will be 4 hikes to choose from varying in difficulty and points of interest around the area. The day will finish with a BBQ lunch from 1-3 pm at the MTHS’s historic U&D Train Station. Hikes are free, pre-registration required. $10 per person for BBQ lunch, all proceeds to MTHS.
- Hike # 1: Rip Van Winkle Hike – Join geologist Bob Titus in a moderate, 2 mile hike to Sunset Rock above North Lake. Along the way he will point out Devonian stratigraphy and Ice Age history while telling the tale of Rip Van Winkle, stopping at sites that closely match those described by Washington Irving. Meet at KRT Parking Lot at 9 am to car pool to North Lake
- Hike # 2: Historic Survey of North-South Lake – The area of North-South Lake has been home to various business, railroad, and recreational sites. Pete Senterman and Paul LaPierre will lead this easy 2 mile journey with possible side trip to the Catskill Mountain House Site. Meet at KRT Parking Lot at 9 am to car pool to North Lake.
- Hiike # 3: Elka Park Colosseum: Join Nancy Allen on this easy to moderate 3 ½ mile hike through the historic community of Elka Park along a dirt road to the Park’s Colosseum (reservoir). Meet at the KRT Parking Lot at 9 am to car pool to Elka Park.
- Hike # 4: Sphinx Rock and the Sofa on Prospect Mountain – Bob Gildersleeve will lead this approximately 2.5 mile easy to moderate hike starting from MTHS’ s U&D train station partially following along the Kaaterskill Rail Trail and using old woods roads and a short bushwhack to the ledge above Molly Smith’s parking area. Here we will look down on the location of Sphinx Rock. Nearby is a natural bench once called the sofa, and a unique view taking in Kaaterskill Clove, Kaaterskill Falls, and across the clove, Kaaterskill High Peak and Round Top. A natural ramp can take us to the ledge on which the Sphinx rests for a close-up view. If hikers wish, we may also have time to visit the platform at Kaaterskill Falls and be back for the BBQ at 1:00. Meet at the MTHS’s U&D Train Station at 9 am.
MTHS does not require membership for hike participation however, we encourage you to join as a member or make a donation to the MTHS to support our work. We do 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.