Thankfully, it was August, so I did not have to walk an additional five miles to access the trailhead off Dale Lane. It was to be a solitary hike, as most people I know work on Thursdays, and I wasn’t just going to sit on my ass waiting for a hiking companion when there were mountains to climb.
It had rained early that morning, slickening the rocks and flooding the trail. After I hung a left at the first junction a quarter-mile down the trail, a mist started radiating from the wet soil and moss, shafts of light descending through the striped maple and beech turning the forest into a silver garden.
I slopped up the Pecoy Notch Trail and got to Dibble’s Quarry as the sun broke through. The quarry has not been active for more than a century, but some creative psychotic had built a giant throne room out of the rejected stone at some point since then.
The trail has a moderate grade during its first two-and-a-quarter miles, and there is plenty to see: two streams cross the path and throw themselves off waterfalls to the trail’s side, and further on, the path skirts two marshes exploding with wildflowers and droning with multi-colored honeybees, drunk off nectar in the sun.
I saw two eastern newts on this stretch going through their “red eft” phase, when the critters are land-based between their larvae and adult stages.
There is a serious uptick in trail difficulty at the second juncture, where I took a left towards Twin Mountain’s peak. The trail turns from a mud path to a jumble of boulders, and some major rock scrambling was in order. There were a couple spots where I had to lean back and plot out how to mount the increasingly vertical terrain before taking my next step.
The flora turned from maple and beech to silver birch with an increasing number of conifers as the elevation climbed.
At Twin Mountain’s pinnacle, I was rewarded with a view of Sugarloaf, with Indian Head Mountain and Overlook Mountain rising above the surrounding terrain.
The better view, however, requires an additional 25-minute hike. South Twin Mountain, though also over 3500 feet, is not considered one of the 35 peaks, but the view is spectacular, featuring the Ashokan Reservoir, Cooper’s Lake in Woodstock, and a mass of the Catskill High Peaks in the distance.
From there, I turned around and headed back down the mountain. The 6.8-mile hike took about four-and-a-half hours, but a full hour of that was spent on the .7 miles between the second juncture and Twin Mountain’s acme, one of the most challenging stretches I’ve seen on an official DEC trail in the region.
In other words, it was a great hike.