Highlights: Awesome clifftop views, lack of giant mountain to climb
Distance: 4.5 miles, up-and-back
Approximate roundtrip time: 3 hours
This hike is for you if: You want to visit one of the nicest overlooks in the area without having to climb a big fat mountain.
Background you can feel free to skip: When I stepped out onto Huckleberry Point late last year, the view was so beautiful that I don’t remember if I swore in front of the baby riding on my back, but if I did, I forgive myself. This is a view that deserves a colorful exclamation.
It had been nearly a decade since my wife and I had hiked out to Huckleberry Point. I had only fuzzy memories about a very nice overlook there, and something about a chair made of rocks. Searching around on my hard drive, I dug up some old shots from our original Huckleberry hike. Sure enough, there was Kara, sitting on her throne of rock.
When I strolled back out here recently, I found that the rock chair is no longer there, and maybe that’s for the best. Nature doesn’t really need any help for this place to be awesome. Besides, my new hiking partner (our son Evan), would have needed some booster rocks anyway.
Kara took that day off from hiking, enjoying some peace and quiet back home, but standing on Huckleberry Point, right at the edge of the Catskills, overlooking the Hudson Valley beneath, I decided that I need to drag Kara back out here. Huckleberry Point is a special place, and one you should make a point to visit if you’re at all interested in awesome views that don’t require an all-day hike to earn.
When someone says that the hike to Huckleberry Point is flat, they mean that it’s Catskill Flat, which also happens to be a great name for a country band. There are some decent climbs along this hike, including an increasingly steep descent (ascent on the way back) as you near the overlook. But for the reward of a really sweet Catskill overlook, you’ll have a hard time finding a hike that requires less exertion.
If you’re looking for a great hike that might even be appropriate for people who don’t like hiking that much, this stroll is most definitely your Huckleberry.
1. From the parking area that doesn’t mention anything about Huckleberry Point, head over to the registry box, just beyond which you’ll see a sign that also doesn’t mention anything about Huckleberry Point.
When you open up the registry box to sign in, though, you’ll find that some helpful fellow Huckleberrian has taken the time to let the rest of us know that we’re in the right place. Thank you, whoever did that.
2. After signing in, follow the red and blue trail markers along the very well-worn (and sometimes slightly muddy) woods road.
3. Be careful not to get bucked off the road. About 15 minutes in, you’ll have to veer right at a fork to stay on the trail as an unmarked road departs to the left.
4. About five minutes after that, a sign directs you to turn right to stay on the Blue Trail. Follow that sign’s advice and head to the right.
5. Just a few minutes after that, you’ll arrive at
a big ol’ sign that finally gives you official indication (not scratched in pen) that you’re actually going to Huckleberry Point (well, that sign is gone now – see the update below this image. I’m leaving this image here in case the sign ever finds its way back). Turn right here to hop on the Yellow Trail, which you’ll follow all the way to your destination.
**Update May 27, 2014** Well, so much for that official Huckleberry Point sign. Alert hiker Courtney informs me via email that, at least as of last weekend, that sign is gone (hopefully it’s somewhere getting a nice new coat of paint, but let’s not hold our breath). She was also gracious enough to provide an updated picture, sans sign. Looks like scratched pen is all we’re getting today. Still, turn right here when you see the yellow blazes (you can see one in this updated image), and close your eyes for a moment to imagine an awesome, informative, official Huckleberry Point sign here. Thanks for the update, Courtney!
6. About ten minutes after joining the Yellow Trail (which can be a wee bit muddy at this part), you’ll come to a stream crossing that is probably the trickiest part about this hike, depending on the conditions. The trail seems to suggest that you just walk right through the stream as if it’s not even there. Just a few feet upstream, though, you can pick your way across some logs pretty easily. I’ve never gotten wet here, but I could see it being a problem if the water was high. In fact, this very nice trail guide from catskillmountaineer.com says, “Cannot be forded after significant rain fall. Easily forded otherwise without getting your little toe wet.”
I’ve never gotten my toes wet here, and I hope you don’t have any problems, either. I’d expect the rain would need to be fairly biblical to create an issue.
7. From the stream crossing, it took me 34 minutes to reach Huckleberry Point, strolling at a decent pace and stopping to take a few pictures. Just keep on trucking, following those yellow markers, and you’ll be there in no time.
8. When you get there, you’ll know you’re there. The Catskills loom above to your right, and the ground falls away to your left, leaving a sweeping panorama that stretches past the far-off Hudson River. Take your time, have a seat and enjoy it.
9. When you’re done taking it in, head back the way you came. Just a few minutes after you start heading back, you might notice an unmarked trail heading off to your right through the pine trees, while the Yellow Trail heads left. I hadn’t noticed this trail on my way in, but it’s a very short trail to a nice campsite. You probably have to get here early in peak season to claim it, but it was empty when I stopped by. Check it out if you like, or just keep heading on the Yellow Trail to make your way back.
10. The only turn you have to worry about is the junction with the Blue Trail, where you’ll turn left to leave the Yellow Trail. It took me 40 minutes from the campsite to that junction, with some stops for pictures.
11. As you head back down the woods road and start getting close to your car, you can hear the burbling brook off to your left. Seems a shame the trail couldn’t tread closer to that stream – what you can see of it from the trail looks beautiful. Back in the parking lot, you can stroll down the hill to have a look, if you’re so inclined.
12. Otherwise, hop back in your car and try to think of a nicer place you’ve visited recently. Also, make a point to tell at least three people, “I’m your huckleberry,” in the next 24 hours.
Directions to the trailhead: From the NY Thruway (I-87) headed north, take exit 20 for NY-32 toward Saugerties. From the off ramp, take a left onto NY-212 (Saugerties-Woodstock Road) and stay on it for 2.3 miles, where you’ll then take the right fork onto County Route 35 (Blue Mountain Road). After 1.5 miles, turn left to stay on County Route 35, which becomes W Saugerties Road, and then becomes County Route 33 as you keep heading straight. This road departs civilization and becomes Platte Clove Road, which climbs steeply and is unmaintained in the winter, closed from Nov 1 – April 15. I was here on November 12, before there had been any snow, and everyone seemed to be cheerfully ignoring the “No Vehicle Traffic Beyond This Point” sign. I imagine in the spring, this road must take a while to thaw out. I wouldn’t press my luck with this road, and I’d advise you not to, either. Best to try it after April 15 or before Nov 1.
The trailhead parking is on your right towards the top of the hill, and is pretty well-marked, except that it doesn’t mention Huckleberry Point (I don’t know if they swap these signs out for different seasons, but when I was there, it said “SNOWMOBILE TRAIL TO: TRAIL BEGINNING via STEENBURG RD.: 1.2 miles,” among other things. It’s the only trailhead on your right, so if you see it, that’s the right place to be. It’s just after a tiny little bridge with guardrails on either side. (I took the picture below on the way out of the parking lot, so if you’re coming up Platte Clove Road from the directions above, this is the reverse of how the sign will look. Sorry ’bout that.)
Worst-case scenario is you drive past it, arrive at the very clearly marked “Platte Clove Community” on your right, and backtrack about a mile to the trailhead parking lot.
You can also get directions by checking out the Huckleberry Point entry on the HiketheHudsonValley.com Google map (and see the note on Google Maps’ directions in the GPS section below.)
Sorta nearby address for your GPS: The Platte Clove Community is about a mile north of the trailhead on Platte Clove Road. Its address is:
2255 Platte Clove Road
Elka Park, NY 12427
Note: If you’re coming from the south or east, make sure that your GPS route knows Platte Clove Road is accessible. I noticed Google Maps likes to avoid that road, perhaps because it’s closed in the winter. Going the long way (through Tannersville) will cost you 25 minutes.
GPS coordinates of parking area: 42.13378, -74.08201 (Clicking will open in Google Maps or the Apple Maps app, depending on your browser/device.)
Related resources: I haven’t found too many other official Huckleberry Point resources online, but you can visit these other excellent trail guides for some different perspectives:
More Huckleberry Point pictures from the hike’s Picasa album:
Was this trail guide useful to you? Please leave a comment!