This is unlike most of the posts we do on this site. Carolyn and I started the day with plans to hike Giant Ledge, but Carolyn’s hip was recovering from a strain and she wanted to stay away from the steeps. So, we decided on Mine Kill State Park which is close to home with easy hiking.
For people looking to do a bit of hiking, picnicking, swimming in an Olympic size and kiddie pools, and maybe some disc golf too, this state park in Schoharie County is a gem. Oh, admission to the park is… free!
Add some kayaking and good fishing in the area and you’ll have a great day. You could camp at Max V Shaul state campground which is about 15-minutes away or Nickerson’s or Country Roads Campgrounds which are private but closer. The park is open year-round and has various activities one can participate in. The Long Path traverses the park.
Mine Kill State Park to Mine Kill Falls
The park has 6 trails (including the Long Path). They vary in length and difficulty but none are too hard and all have their appeal. This day we hiked the Long Path from Mine Kill State Park Road to Mine Kill Falls. To the Mine Kill Falls Parking area it is 1.1-miles from the trail head.
You’ll park at the main parking area and you can get a hiking map here or at the pool office. You could cross the road and head for a lower parking area to pick up the Red Trail to walk the woods to the Orange Trail which will connect with the Long Path or as we did simply walk the road back toward the park entrance and start at the well-marked trail head.
This trail leads to Mine Kill Falls which are simply stunning. The two-level falls rushing into the gorge below will please any hiker. This is a nice family hike. Beware however, there is a section where the trail climbs high above the stream and falls and one may fall off, this could be deadly.
Also, just because this is a busy state park, don’t think animals are not around, keep an eye out for wildlife. We came across a deer feeding no more then 20 feet from us. It grazed as if we were not there. There are also bear in this area.
Having said that, this is still a great family hike…
From the road, the wide trail with Aqua-blue markings will start level then begin to drop. Quickly you will reach the intersection with the orange trail which will run together with the Long Path for a bit and you will reach another junction where the Orange Trail turns left as it loops back. You’ll continue straight and downhill. The hemlock forest is wonderful with rock walls and cairns in the woods.
After the second junction the trail will begin to slab the side of a hill and then swing up a small ridge and down through the hemlocks.
You will cross a well-made bridge. When conditions permit there will be a small waterfall at this spot with a perfectly placed boulder to sit and view it.
The character of the trail will become more like a footpath after the bridge. From here the trail will undulate a bit then drop toward Mine Kill Creek.
Before the trail reaches the stream level you may see some light-blue (almost white) markers. If you take this downhill you will be at streamside and could cross it in time of low water. This was once the Long Path which went to the lower falls and now has been re-routed.
Continuing on the Long Path you will begin a steady climb away from and above the stream. The trail will be taking you to a view of the top cascade on the falls. The trail at times is close to the edge of an eroded section of land. Once up higher the trail will undulate in a dense hemlock section.
You will feel like you are in wilderness, but are reminded you are not as cars whiz by on State Route 30 only a few hundred feet away. After a bit of walking you will reach a stream which falls over the cliffs into the gorge. Stay away from this as it would be fatal if one would fall from here.
Once you reach the overlook from the cliff, the view of the falls is great. Remember a fall here would be fatal.
You can continue on the trail to the Mine Kill Falls parking lot and continue to the platform overlook and then the bottom of the falls.
Or as we did simply head back to the park and enjoy the rest of your day!
Backwoods wanderer with a passion for backpacking, hiking, kayaking, and exploring the wilds of the Catskills and Adirondacks in New York. A Catskill 3500 Club Member and Adirondack Forty-Sixer. Climbed Mount Rainier. Professionally an Exercise Physiologist.