A few hardy hikers will venture off trail. Even fewer will make the trek through the dense spruce and fir to reach wild places without trails. We have put together a few pictures of such places and some points along the way, not all great places off trail have expansive views!
Looking West from Doubletop Mountain
This view is from a small ledge somewhat SW of the summit of Doubletop Mountain. It is not the large viewing ledge that most hikers visit. Providing solitude, this secluded ledge perched in a high elevation subalpine forest will delight and give the hiker a spot to rest. Being surrounded by conifers this place will provide protection from the wind year-round. The views into the Western Catskills are unique and pretty.
Winter on Graham Mountain’s North Face
Most people that hike Graham Mountain do so along the well defined herd-path from the west. It’s less steep. Our adventure took us up the north face in which we encountered 4 – 5 feet of snow at higher elevations. The picture below is taken from about 3700 feet elevation. As you may notice we are already in the shadow of the summit at 1:15 pm. Also, notice the vibrant blue sky indicative of winter’s cold. The temperature was – 4 degrees when this shot was taken. The view is looking just north of east. Enjoy!
Friday Mountain Looking Toward Devils Path
This picture was taken from the Catskill 3500 canister on Friday Mountain. Storm damage opened the view looking toward Devil’s Path. What the photo can’t show is the extreme drop-off on the east side of Friday which allows such a great view. There is no easy way to the summit of Friday. Depending on route, all are off-trail, can be long, and involve extremely steep climbs with large cliffs.
Balsam Cap looking Toward the Ashokan
One of the iconic off-trail scenes in the Catskills. For the hiker that makes the toilsome trek to this lonely peak they get rewarded with one of the Ashokan Reservoir’s finest views. Couple this with the solitude, you’ll almost never want to leave. But your trek to this point is half of your hike. You still have a major hike back. But worry not, you’ll be just as enamored with the wilderness that surrounds this beautiful peak.
View Up The Neversink with Flowing Cascade and Moss
Not all back-country views are from summits. The photo below was taken about 2.5 miles off trail in the Neversink Valley before our climb on Balsam Cap. The cascade flowed into a great swimming hole (left). Mountain waters which are clear and cold always please the hiker. The colors were vibrant and the air was chilled under thick tree cover. The earthy aroma relaxed both mind and soul.
Traveling off trail is an experience vastly different from the trail hiking done in the backwoods. It requires a different set of skills and level of commitment. This should not be taken lightly. If you have not traveled off-trail, go with someone that is skilled and learn.
Traveling off-trail provides the backwoods visitor with a unique experience to connect with nature in solitude that you don’t find on the well-beaten path.