QUICK TAKE: Catskill Forest Preserve, NY
DRIVE TIME: The southern trailhead for the Escarpment Trail is 120 miles (2 hours) north of New York City.
THE WAY: From New York State Thruway (I-87) exit 20 at Saugerties, follow NY 32A north to Palenville. In town, pick up NY 23A headed west and follow it through scenic Kaaterskill Clove. Turn right onto North Lake Road (Rt. 18) in the hamlet of Haines Falls. Just before the campground entrance, turn right onto Schutt Road. Trailhead parking is on the right.
TRAILS: Use the 23-mile Escarpment Trail to create a 30-mile dumbbell-shaped route by following the Black Dome Range Trail south after rounding Acra Point. Reconnect with the Escarpment Trail after summiting 3,940-foot Blackhead. Return to Schutt Road via the Marys Glen and Rock Shelter Trails. Carry plenty of water.
ELEVATION: The highest point on the route is Blackhead, at 3,940 feet. The low point is the trailhead, at 2,200 feet.
CAN’T MISS: Sunrise or sunset from Artists Rock or North Point.
CROWD CONTROL: Trails around the frontcountry campground can be busy. Surrounding areas see little trail traffic.
PIT STOP: The Last Chance Antiques Cafe in Tannersville, 5 miles west of Haines Falls on NY 23A, serves a cheese fondue perfect for carbo loading.
WALK SOFTLY: Although camping is unrestricted below 3,500 feet, camp in established sites when possible.
MAPS AND GUIDES: Catskill Trails, a five-map set from the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, costs $13.95 (see address below). Also, Hiking the Catskills, by Lee McAllister and Myron S. Ochman (1992; NY-NJTC, New York, NY; $16.95), is a helpful guidebook.
MORE INFORMATION: NY-NJTC, 232 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016; (212) 685-9699; www.nynjtc.org; email@example.com.