24. North Lake State Campground to Batavia Kill

Section 24: North Lake State Campground to Batavia Kill

Quick Facts

Distance: 9.8 miles
Parks: North/South Lake State Campground, Windham Blackhead Range Wilderness
Maps: Interactive Map, Catskill Trails (map 141)
Print-Friendly Version: Link

General Description

This section of the Long Path offers dramatic scenery. From North Lake, the trail proceeds north along the Catskill Escarpment (also known as the "Great Wall of Manitou"), with many spectacular views of the Hudson River valley over 2,000 feet below. Thomas Cole of the Hudson River school of painting made this area famous. After a steep climb to North Point, the trail becomes more rugged, descending from Stoppel Point to Dutcher Notch and then climbing Blackhead Mountain. The summit of Blackhead is the second highest point on the Long Path. North of Blackhead, the trail descends to the Batavia Kill Trail along one of the steepest trail sections in the Catskills. For the entire length of this section, the Long Path follows the Escarpment Trail, blazed with blue DEC trail markers.


Take the New York State Thruway to Exit 20 (Saugerties). Take NY Route 32 north to NY Route 32A. Continue on Route 32A north to Palenville. Turn left (west) onto NY Route 23A, and continue through Kaaterskill Clove to Haines Falls. In Haines Falls, turn right onto Greene County Route 18 and follow the signs to North Lake State Campground 3 miles ahead. Pass through the gate (a fee is charged in season) and continue ahead to the parking area at North Lake.


0.00  North Lake State Campground, at North Lake Beach (parking fee charged in season). (42.19802°, -74.03501°)
9.80  Parking area at end of Big Hollow Road. This is 1.4 miles along the red-blazed Black Dome Range Trail and the yellow-blazed Batavia Kill Trail from the beginning of this section. (42.28932°, -74.11610°)


0.00  North Lake State Campground (fee charged).
9.80  Batavia Kill Lean-to (0.25 miles from the Long Path along the yellow-blazed Batavia Kill Trail). Camping is prohibited between North Lake and North Point.

Trail Description

0.00  From the end of a short side trail that begins at the east end of the parking lot, the Long Path proceeds north along the blue-blazed Escarpment Trail, passing through a picnic area. The trail passes a register box and begins to ascend.

0.30  After a short, steep climb over a rock ledge, the trail reaches Artist Rock, which provides a good view of the Hudson River valley. Artist Rock was made famous by Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson River school of painting. Beyond Artist Rock, the trail climbs a series of small ledges and passes through an area of hemlock, white pine, pitch pine, red spruce and balsam fir. The trail passes a large rock ledge on the right. This was the site of "Jacob's Ladder," which allowed Catskill Mountain House visitors to climb up to Sunset Rock above.

0.80  To the right, a yellow-blazed side trail leads to the top of Sunset Rock, which offers a dramatic view of North and South Lakes and the site of the Catskill Mountain House, with Kaaterskill High Peak visible directly behind the lakes. This was the site of one of Thomas Cole's most famous paintings.

1.00  Reach Newman's Ledge, a large overhanging rock outcropping with a spectacular view north over the Hudson River valley. On a clear day, the tall buildings of Albany are visible in the distance, with the Taconics and Green Mountains of Vermont beyond. The trail now climbs about 140 feet and emerges in an open area, with an interesting mountaintop swamp that is well worth exploring.

1.55  The yellow-blazed Rock Shelter Trail leaves to the left. This trail drops into Mary's Glen and continues to the gatehouse at the entrance to the North Lake area. From Mary's Glen, the red-blazed Mary's Glen Trail can be followed back to North Lake. The Rock Shelter Trail is named for a large overhang known as Badman's Cave, which was reputed to be a hideout for outlaws in the 1700s. The Long Path continues to the right and climbs through a rocky area in a spruce-balsam forest.

2.20  The red-blazed Mary's Glen Trail leaves to the left. This trail descends through a beautiful wooded area and provides an alternate return route to North Lake. The Long Path continues ahead and begins a very steep ascent to North Point.

2.35  Reach North Point, an open rocky ledge, which provides a spectacular 360-degree view. To the south, directly below, are North and South Lakes, with Kaaterskill High Peak and Roundtop in the background. To the east is the ridge of the Escarpment that we have been following, with the Hudson
Valley precipitously below. To the west and immediately ahead is North Mountain, with Blackhead Mountain behind to the right (northwest). The City of Albany is visible in the distance to the northeast. From here the trail continues to climb North Mountain.

2.80  Reach the summit of North Mountain. While only slightly over 3,000 feet high, North Mountain has a spruce-balsam forest that is characteristic of the higher elevations. The trail continues up, at times steeply, through brushy, rocky areas.

4.05  Reach Stoppel Point, which provides a view northeast over the Hudson Valley, with Albany and the Taconics in the distance. Stoppel Point was the site of a recent plane crash, and parts of the wreckage may still be seen. From Stoppel Point, the trail begins to descend towards Dutcher Notch, with occasional views of the Blackhead Range through the trees, and then levels off.

5.15  The trail curves to the north and resumes its descent. Just before the descent, there is an excellent view back to the southeast. From here, it is evident that one has already descended a substantial distance from Stoppel Point. After a short, steep descent, the trail levels off again.

6.30  After another short, steep descent, the trail reaches Dutcher Notch, the lowest point on the Escarpment Trail since just beyond North Lake. To the right, the yellow-blazed Dutcher Notch Trail drops 1,700 feet in 2.4 miles to Floyd Hawver Road. There is a reliable spring on the Dutcher Notch Trail at 0.35 miles and about 500 vertical feet below this point, the only reliable water in this section. To the left, the yellow-blazed Colgate Lake Trail descends to Colgate Lake, first passing around an unnamed lake and skirting private Lake Capra. The Long Path continues straight ahead, beginning a steep ascent to a level area sometimes known as Arizona Plateau.


Ledge on the Escarpment Trail. 2001 [ED WALSH]

7.15  After an 800-foot climb, the trail reaches the Arizona plateau and begins to level off. To the left, a short side trail leads to a viewpoint back towards Stoppel Point and Lakes Capra and Colgate. The trail follows this level plateau for about a mile, with increasingly spectacular views of Blackhead Mountain straight ahead.

8.30  The trail begins its final 600-foot ascent to the summit of Blackhead Mountain. Near the summit, there is a spectacular view to the east over the Escarpment below, with Albany and the Taconics visible to the north.

8.80  Reach the summit of Blackhead Mountain, the second highest point on the Long Path and the fourth highest mountain in the Catskills. The view from the summit is overgrown, but views to the south are possible by heading into the scrub vegetation just left of the trail. Here, the Long Path, following the blue-blazed Escarpment Trail, turns right, as the yellow-blazed Blackhead Mountain Trail goes straight ahead and descends to Lockwood Gap between Blackhead and Black Dome Mountains. (It is worth the 0.2-miles detour down this trail to a spectacular view to the south and west). The Long Path drops precipitously down the north face of Blackhead, plunging over ledges in one of the steepest descents in the Catskills. Near the base of the descent, there are two fine views of the Hudson Valley to the east.

9.80  Reach the base of the descent from Blackhead Mountain. Here, the yellow-blazed Batavia Kill Trail descends to the left, passing the Batavia Kill Leanto in 0.25 miles, and ending at the red-blazed Black Dome Range Trail in 0.9 miles. From this point, the Black Dome Range Trail continues straight ahead to the parking area at the end of Big Hollow Road in another 0.5 miles. To continue on the Long Path, proceed straight ahead on the blue-blazed Escarpment Trail.


Along the Escarpment Trail in the fall. 2012 [JAKOB FRANKE]


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Next Section: Section 25

Comment: Please be relevant, civil, non-commercial.

Gedalyamil's picture

Today's hike was spectacular!! In truth, the English language lacks the requisite superlatives to do justice to this section of the LP (more on my new language efforts later). I had previously hiked nearly the entire length of the Escarpment Trail in a West-to-East direction in a single long day with my brother and a few friends 28 or 29 years ago. I was somewhere between 20 & 22 years old at the time. We finished in total darkness, hiking with the aid of flashlights. It was epic!! One of the most memorable days of my youth. I'm a late bloomer, my youth ended at 36 when I landed my first real job. On that note, the quote I picked for my college yearbook picture was "Hold fast to the spirit of youth, Let the years that come do what they may." I'm living it, for better or worse. Sorry to digress. My brother reminded me last nite that on our trek of the Escarpment Trail those years ago we passed right by Kaaterskill Falls but didn't even realize it on account of the darkness. It's taken me nearly 30 years to get back. My wife joined me on today's hike. Since the North Lake Parking area was closed untill a week before Memorial Day, I decided to park at Kaaterskill Falls - it would only add 1.5 miles to the hike - and treat my wife to a view of the grand Falls. We sauntered down to the Falls viewing platform before joining the connecting trail to the North Lake State Campground and the start of this stage of the LP. My wife set a world record!! She glanced at the wonderous Kaaterskill Falls for merely 2.4 seconds before turning to leave and informing me that she would much rather be a Neiman Marcus. 100% true. I cannot lie on this site. I was genuinely disheartened, but we had a hike to do. The truth is even my wife was eventually won over by the beauty and majesty of this trail. Artist's Rock.....Lookout Rock.....Sunset Rock.....Newman's Ledge....These were more than enough to reel her in. The scenery, including the expansive Hudson River and its valley, the alpine-like lakes, and the high peaks in the near distance were unreal. To top it off, my wife was an art history buff in a previous life and we were on sacred ground immortalized by the Hudson River School artists. Each vista was like visiting the true likeness of an old friend from the canvas. I mentioned to my newly agreeable wife that it's interesting that the so-dubbed "Jacob's Ladder" allowed Catskill Mountain House guests to climb to the Sunset Rock vista high above. The Bible was much more a part of the American vernacular in the 19th century. It's likely that only a small minority of folks in our nation could identify the significance of "Jacob's Ladder" today. The further we advance, the more we regress. The hits kept coming on this hike! North Point....Stoppel Point....Milt's Lookout.....the Arizona Plateau....and the trek up and down Blackhead Mountain each offered fantastic views. I remembered the sight of the downed plane at Stoppel Point from nearly 30 years ago. It was like revisiting a sad old friend. I wondered again if the pilot survived. We weren't expecting to find the plane when we hiked the Escarpment in the early 1990s and were shocked to see the wreckage. This hike was also nearly as strenuous as it was beautiful. I think it's tougher in an East-to-West direction. There were plenty of steep climbs. I invented a new word for tough work on a hike: "Physisch" (pronounced 'fizz-ish'), which means physically demanding. I generated or derived the word from a combination of English and Yiddish (call it "Engdish"....pronounced 'ing-dish'). I'm getting quite good at languages!! OK, it's high time for me to climb up on a soap-box and scream: The section of the LP from Peekamouse Road thru the Escarpment Trail - including the Burroughs Range and Devil's Path - is at least as rewarding as any 10-14 day backpacking trek East of the Mississippi. The ruggedness, toughness of climbs, scenic beauty, diversity, solitude, etc are remarkable. I am so glad I did this in a continuous stretch - even without a heavy backpack. I think the LP needs to get more credit as one of America's great thru-hikes. Back to today, while the hiking was serene, I had a lurking fear of the descent of Blackhead, described above as "The Long Path drops precipitously down the north face of Blackhead, plunging over ledges in one of the steepest descents in the Catskills." The hiking reports from earlier this month on AllTrails indicated residual snow and ice. The truth is that it was a piece of cake on this 20th day of April 2021. Winter's leftovers were just friendly slush and with our hiking poles and micro-spikes (#overkill) there was no danger. Nevertheless, my traditional wife freaked out on the descent and hurled many non-traditional words at me, but in the spirit of being "civil, relevant, and non-commercial" I won't repeat them. She calmed down when we got to level ground and the walk back to our car at end of Big Hollow Road was peaceful. By the way, the drive thru these parts between Big Hollow Road and the North State Campground was unreal!! The highest virtues of bucolic combined with stunning views of the Devil's Path, Katterskill High Peak, and the Escarpment. I want to bring more people back to this region of NY....and the drive home was only 2 hours.