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 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.

Four years ago, on June 1, 2013, a celebration was held on the campus of the Mountain Top Historical Society in Haines Falls, NY for the opening of the Kaaterskill Rail Trail from the U & D Railroad Station to the Laurel House site at the top of Kaaterskill Falls. It was a beautiful sunny day; the crowd was enthusiastic; the long awaited trail was finally ready. Well, the trail was almost ready. Hiking the trail for the past four years has meant taking a detour from the MTHS parking lot out to Osborn Road to North Lake Road and then south on Featherbed Lane to re-join the KRT about ¾ mile from the Railroad Station. It was not exactly what had been planned and worked for over so many years by so many community groups and individuals.

Now, on Saturday, May 20, 2017, there will be another community celebration beginning at 10:30 a.m. This time we will mark the end of the detour and the opening of the missing link with a few speeches, a ribbon cutting, and a beautiful, delicious cake. Walkers and hikers will be able to enter the KRT along the old train route just east of the MTHS' historic Railroad Station. It opens up a whole new world of hiking! At the Laurel House site, there is now a bridge that allows people to cross Lake Creek above Kaaterskill Falls and join the NYSDEC system of trails. One could hike all the way to Windham! "The Kaaterskill Rail Trail connects hikers, cyclists, and other outdoor enthusiasts to the wonderful Catskills landscape" , said Kim Elliman, OSI's president and CEO. "OSI is proud to have preserved this significant and storied rail trail, and prouder yet to pass it along to local citizens for their permanent enjoyment."

This final link of the KRT has been made possible through a broad coalition of groups and individuals. Funding to purchase the property adjacent to the MTHS has been provided by generous grants from the Open Space Institute, NY/NJ Trail Conference, the Mountain Top Historical Society and the Hunter Foundation. All the background work to bring the property to the table for the purchase has been a long process involving the attorney for the Kursh Estate, Joe Gaffney; John Lyons and Kimberly Garrison of Grant & Lyons, LLC, attorneys for the MTHS; Michelle Yost of the Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District; Sarah Killourhy and members of the town of Hunter Planning board; David Kukle of the Town of Hunter Board; and MTHS Board members. The work of preparing the trail for opening day is being headed up by Doug Senterman of the NY/NJ Trail Conference with the backing of Jeff Flack from GCSWD and many volunteers. Of course there are many unnamed others who have helped bring this four year promise to fruition. Please join us on Saturday, May 20 2017, at the U & D Railroad Station on the MTHS Haines Falls campus at 10:30 a.m. to cheer those people and organizations, named and unnamed, enjoy a piece of cake, and then take a hike on the Kaaterskill Rail Trail! Just head straight east from the Railroad Station into the woods.
On May18, 2017 Cyndi LaPierre, president of the Mountain Top Historical Society, signed the final papers closing the purchase of the property allowing the connection of the Kaaterskill Rail Trail to the Mountain Top Historical Society's Campus in Haines Falls and in effect driving the Golden Spike. It's been a long time coming. To our memory Don Conover, publisher of The Mountain Eagle, was an early advocate in the 1980s. We are happy to have taken part in establishing this section of what we hope will be an even longer trail connecting the communities or the Mountain Top. Join us on Saturday for the official opening and celebration, and come back again and again to enjoy this beautiful trail and its connection to the miles of trails in New York's Catskill Forest Preserve.

Setting the Record Straight

After the publication of the 4th 2016 edition of the Hemlock, MTHS president Cyndi LaPierre received a phone call from a granddaughter of Ferris Thompson, Claudia Lane. Claudia and her mother and aunts discussed the building of the swimming hole on the Batavia Kill that served guests at the Thompson House and the Osborn House that is mentioned in the article about Larry Tompkins. The Thompson sisters distinctly remember watching their father build the dam and dredge the stream. With the following revision that was submitted to us by Claudia Lane, we wish to set the record straight on that point. We are publishing this revision on our website, Facebook page, and will attach a printed copy to the archived copies of the Hemlock. We strive to publish and archive accurate information and welcome corrections from those with local knowledge.

The Thompson Brothers, owners of The Thompson House, asked permission from the owners of the Osborn House, next door if the could dredge the river and build a dam. They created a 10 feet deep swimming hole where there was a high diving board and guests could canoe. On Saturdays there was a water show. For the finale an employee would high dive through a ring of fire. Larry vividly remembers the shockingly ice cold........

By: Bob Gildersleeve

Some recent posts on the local history Facebook page about the history of East Jewett Valley got me thinking again about Timberlane Ranch and the period when it was known as The Gabby Hayes Resort Ranch.
Like most people who grew up in the 50s, Gabby Hayes, Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, and the great number of western stars and cowboy programs on TV were a great influence on me. I didn't live in this area as a child, but the memories of Roy, Dale, Gabby, Pat Brady, Gene, Hoppy, Clayton Moore and countless others never left my imagination. Knowing that our area had a connection to Gabby Hayes made me think of doing an MTHS program on the Gabby Hayes Ranch. I explained this in a letter that I wrote to Dale Evans Rogers in 1999 (Roy had passed away a year earlier in July of 1998.) Here is a copy of the text of that letter and the photo of Gabby that I sent to Mrs. Rogers.

I watched the mail like a kid waiting for cereal premium ordered with a box-top and "one thin dime" but none arrived before the date of the society's program at the East Jewett Fire House. My program was heavy on the cowboy TV shows with videos and music including songs by The Sons of the Pioneers and even the Olympics singing 'My Baby Loves the Western Movies." but was rather light on local history.

About a week after the program, I got a gracious reply from Mrs. Rogers. Here is a photo of her reply framed and in a place of Honor in our home.

The note reads:
Dear Bob,
Gabby Hayes was a wonderful person & artist.
He was a marvelous actor, and quite gifted.
Roy and I enjoyed and loved Gabby, his talents, and his beautiful character.
Thank you for asking!
Dale Evans Rogers

A year or two back, Carol Vanucchi kindly donated much of the materials I used for research and other material on Timberland Ranch to the Mountain Top Historical Society. The material is kept in the climate controlled and fire resistant Justine Hommel Archive Room.