|Lowdown on North Lake to North Point|
6 of 10... Not a killer, but don't underestimate it.
Views, some steep climbing, Badman's Cave, ever-changing forest, lots of hikers, views, views, and more views...
Best time to go:
Any, just go.
Charge for parking in-season at the day-use parking area.
A loop including Mary's Glen Trail is about 5.5 miles
Catskill map set NYNJTC
The North Lake to North Point is the northern loop of the North-South Lake area, including the most dramatic Escarpment Trail section. I can’t find words worthy of expressing its beauty. Many hikers will stop and return to the campground after reaching Lookout and Sunset Rocks; this is a mistake. Even though a bit longer and somewhat rougher, the hike to North Point is worth the effort and time. A return on the Mary’s Glen Trail provides the hiker with a change of pace and a visit to Ashley Falls, which is lovely when the water is plentiful. It may be underwhelming during dry spells.
We will start our hike at the North Lake parking area. If you want to read about the southern section of the Escarpment Trail in this area, do so here.
Almost year-round, you will find hikers on this trail. During summer, it is crowded, given its fantastic views and proximity to one of the state’s largest campgrounds and day-use areas. We usually attempt to provide people with the quietest time to go for many hikes. Given the beauty and history of this place, go, do not wait! Having so many great views, this hike will take longer than most.
From the North Lake parking area, head to the north end, and you’ll find the yellow connector trail to the Escarpment Trail. There will be a trail register; please sign it. It is short (0.1-mile), and you’ll notice old fire pits in the woods.
Once on the blue-blazed Escarpment Trail, head north (left); you will quickly come to a limited view into the Hudson Valley; this is a foretaste of what is to come.
Your walk will be on a trail worn to the bedrock with many shrubs and stunted trees. Unlike many hikes in the Catskills, this hike has a good amount of sun exposure.
To Artist Rock, the going will be generally level and will border the campground property. You will be walking at the edge of the Escarpment as the land will drop perceptibly on your right. Along the way, you may see some informal footpaths that lead to the road to North Lake.
At about 0.65-miles from the parking lot, you will reach Artist Rock which offers excellent views of the Hudson Valley. If you are in awe – more is to come. You may now understand why this hike can take so long – the views are second to none.
Much of the forest in the area you are hiking has experienced many forest fires over the centuries. This is reflected in the diverse and ever-changing forest you’ll be walking in. The hiker will find berries trailside in-season.
Lookout and Sunset Rocks and Newman’s Ledge
The trail will start to climb, but very gradually. At approximately 0.70-miles, you will notice a rock cliff to the right of the trail. This is the rock ledge that Lookout and Sunset Rocks sit. It is another two-tenths of a mile to the connector trail, and then you’ll need to hike back to the views.
There are cracks in the ledge for experienced scramblers that one may climb to avoid the hike back on the connector trail. However, this is harder than it looks, and once on top, there are many crevasses that one could fall into – beware.
Climbing to the junction, you make a U-turn and take the yellow-blazed trail to lookout and Sunset Rocks which offer outstanding views of the lakes, surrounding mountains, and one of the Hudson Valley from another viewpoint.
From the junction you will begin a climb to Newman’s Ledge which is reached at 1.35-miles.
The view along the cliffs is inspiring.
The view into the Hudson valley is stunning.
Newman’s Ledge to North Point
From the ledge you continue to climb in a mature forest.
After a short time, you’ll enter a level section through an open hemlock forest.
The trail will turn southwest and the northwest and continue some climbing eventually through some large glacial erratics.
Eventually, the trail will make a U-turn, and you will reach Badman’s Cave and the junction with the Rock Shelter Trail at 1.95-miles from the parking area. This cave is purported to be a place that criminals would hold-up. Today it provides a nice place to break in a Hemlock forest.
Recommended reading: Places to Camp on the Catskills Escarpment Trail
Above the cave is the first time since you can legally camp (not at the campground) if you are backpacking on the Escarpment Trail. Given all the views and what’s to come, don’t rush; take a few minutes and rest at this pleasant spot looking down on the trail.
After Badman’s Cave, the trail will be level in another hemlock forest and then begin climbing again. You will pass through an open meadow and then enter an excellent hemlock section walking on rocky terrain.
At 2.55-miles, you will reach the junction with the Mary’s Glen Trail, from which you will turn sharp right and climb steeply to North Point, which you will reach at 2.85-miles from the parking area.
The views from North Point are outstanding! Along the way, you will reach a small view overlooking the lake and Hudson Valley.
Just before North Point, you will have one last rock scramble before you are rewarded with some of the Catskill’s finest vistas.
Views are had in all directions but west from various points.
North Point to North Lake on Mary’s Glen Trail
One could return to the campground on the Escarpment and thoroughly enjoy the views again. This would be wonderful. However, if you are looking for a change of pace, the Mary’s Glen Trail may be an option.
Retracing your steps on the Escarpment Trail and dropping 250+ feet from North Point, you reach the Mary’s Glen Trail junction.
From the trail junction the trail goes on the level for a bit then begins to drop again.
Generally, the Mary’s Glen Trail will gradually descend and can be quite wet in spots, and rocks will aid you on the trail, but in spots, expect to get your boots muddy.
At 0.8-miles from the junction, you will reach the Rock Shelter Trail. You will now have hiked 3.95-miles from the start. The Mary’s Glen Trail is pretty and moves through extensive hemlock with small sections of swampy meadow along the way.
At 4.2-miles you will reach a bridge which crosses the stream the feeds Ashley Falls.
Cutting into the woods here you can see the upper tier of the falls.
Descending on the trail for another tenth of a mile will take you to a red marked side path to the falls base. In dry conditions, the falls will be a “drip.”
From the falls, it is a quick 0.2-miles to North Lake Road, where you will turn left and walk about 0.5-miles back to the parking area. You’ll have hiked about 5.5-miles on the loop.
|North-South Lake Campground & Day Use Area|
|Contact Information:||Campground Phone: (518) 589-5058|
|Location:||Address: County Route 18, Haines Falls, NY 12436 (Alternate for GPS Tannersville, NY 12485)|
|Amenities:||7 camping loops; 219 tent and trailer sites; 2 lakes; 2 beaches; Two picnic areas: one on North Lake with two picnic pavilion rentals a 20' X 32' and a 44" X 24' (the larger of the two with electricity) and one on South Lake with a 40' X 60' picnic pavilion rental.; 2 picnic areas with tables and fireplaces or charcoal grills; playground; flush toilets; hot showers; boat launch (no motorized vessels); rowboat, canoe, kayak and paddle boat rentals; firewood sales; volleyball; horseshoes; fishing; playing field; trailer dump station; recycling center.|
|Weather:||North Mountain Weather|
|Windham-Blackhead Range Wilderness|
|Contact Information:||DEC Region 4 Stamford
Office hours: M-F 8:30AM - 4:30PM
Phone: (607) 652-7365;
Backcountry Emergency: (Search, Rescue & Forest Fire): 518-408-5850 or dial 911
|Location:||Towns of Cairo, Hunter, Jewett, Windham and Durham in Greene County|
|Map:||View Windham-Blackhead Range Wilderness Map - PDF (2.82 MB)|
|Amenities:||Dining opportunities, as well as gas, food and other supplies can be found in the nearby communities of Cairo, Windham and Palenville.|
|Weather:||Blackhead Mountain weather|
|Cell Service:||Never count on your cell phone for rescue. Cell service in the Windham-Blackhead Wilderness is okay and one may have problems in ravines. We have not had problems with service.|
Backwoods wanderer with a passion for backpacking, hiking, 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.