Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hiking: Shavertown Trail - Pepacton Reservoir | Town of Andes, Catskill Mountains, NY

There's a new hiking trail in the Catskill Mountains thanks to the hard work of the Catskill Mountain Club, the Town of Andes, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) and a number of other regional groups, including the Trail Conference. Thanks to all these partners, hikers can now enjoy the Shavertown Trail.

Trailhead signage for the new Shavertown Trail
One of the first trails to built on New York City DEP land surrounding their reservoirs in the Catskills, this intermediate trail ascends from near the shoreline of the Pepacton Reservoir to Snake Pond and then continues to climb upwards gently, along a shoulder of Perch Lake Mountain.

The Shavertown Trail offers day hikers, families and first time explorers something of a unique opportunity in the Catskills – a spectacular view after only one moderately strenuous mile of hiking, followed by a fairly level mile and a half walk through beautiful rock ledges and wonderful forests.

Getting to the Shavertown Trail Trailhead

CMC map for the
Shavertown Trail
The Shavertown Trail starts on BWS Rd 4, about 200 feet west of the parking lot for the Shavertown Boat Launch on the Pepacton Reservoir. Trailhead parking is available at the Boat Launch parking area, located on BWS Rd 4 just west of that road’s intersection with State Route 30. A trail information sign has been installed at the start of the trail with information and mileage about the hike.

Because it is a new trail, the Shavertown Trail is not shown on current Trail Conference or National Geographic maps for the Catskill Mountain Region. The Catskill Mountain Club has produced a map of the trail. The Trail Conference is working on a downloadable trail map and guide for the Shavertown Trail that should be available shortly.

The Shavertown Trail

  • 2.35 miles one way (5.3 miles roundtrip)
  • 0.3 mile Snake Pond Loop
  • Moderate Hike
  • Marked With Red NYCDEP Trail Markers
  • Total Elevation Change: 760 feet (one way)

After walking westward along BWS Rd 4 and reaching the Trailhead sign, you turn sharply right onto the trail marked with red NYCDEP plastic trail markers. The trail then climbs the earthen bank next to the roadway, cross a small drainage and begins ascending steadily through an open forest and soon reaches an old woods road.

One of the many views on the lower
section of the Shavertown Trail
The trail follows the old woods road, crossing a generally dry drainage on stepping stones and making its way more gently up the hill. The trail then takes a hard right turn, leaving the old woods road and begins to climb more quickly. There are several small stone steps along this section. Following the climb, the trail then intersects another old woods run, taking a hard left turn and following the woods road. That woods road then ends at the intersection with a well maintained and wide woods road. The trail turns right onto the wide woods road and again ascends steadily at a moderate pace.

The woods road turns slightly to the left and soon enters the lower end of a large open field on the
mountainside. As the trail makes its way through the field, a weather station is located to the right of the trail. Make sure to avoid touching or otherwise damaging any of the sensitive instruments. The trail now climbs through the middle of the open field along the woods road, passing another smaller weather station on the right. Views begin opening up to the south and west and the Pepacton Reservoir can be seen in the valley below you.

The trail, still following the woods road curves to the left near the upper portion of the field and at this point, if you turn and look downhill, you have an outstanding view to the south and west of the surrounding mountains and a small portion of the reservoir that is visible. Shortly ahead of the top of the field, the trail reaches the trail junction with the short Snake Pond Trail, approximately one mile from and about 520 vertical feet above the start of the trail on BWS Rd 4.

The trail junction is marked with a directional sign, indicating the Snake Pond Loop and the trail heading back down to the trailhead and up the shoulder of Perch Lake Mountain.


Snake Pond Loop

The Snake Pond Trail forms a short loop (0.3 miles approximately) around Snake Pond. The trail descends slightly from the trail junction, skirting around the eastern shore of the pond, then crosses the outlet and crosses the earthen dam on the southwestern side of the pond. The pond is located at the top of an open field and the trail along this section offers almost constant views of the surrounding mountains and the Pepacton Reservoir below you. The trail follows the earthen embankment until it ends in the woods at the uphill end of the pond. This made for a great place to relax and have a sandwich while we took in the pond and the view beyond. The trail skirts around the wooded uphill side of the pond before coming back out into the open field and rejoining the just before the trail junction with the main trail.


For many first time hikers and families out for an afternoon stroll, this point probably marks the end of their hike and they will follow the Shavertown Trail back down to BWS Rd 4 after visiting Snake Pond and taking in the great views there. That said, while the remaining section doesn't offer outstanding views such as those around Snake Pond, it does offer over a mile of pleasant walking with no strenous sections as it makes its way around and over a shoulder of Perch Lake Mountain. It is an interesting walk and worth the time if you have it.

Past the trail junction with the Snake Pond Loop, the main Shavertown Trail reenters the woods on a woods road and begins ascending at a moderate pace through an open hardwood forest. The grade soon moderates and the trail continues ascending slowly through a series of short climbs interspersed with generally level stretches. There are a few eroded and wet sections along the way, but the majority of the tread is dry, which makes for a pleasant walk along the flank of Perch Lake Mountain and if you are hiking the trail in the late fall, winter or early spring, there are numerous views along the trail through the trees.

The trail continues to follow the old woods road as rock ledges begin appearing uphill to the right of the trail. Shortly afterwards the trail turns left, leave the woods road and enters into a boulder field. The trail passes through the lichen, moss and fern covered boulders before ascending through a break in the rock ledges and making its way over to the base of the mountain slope. The trail follows the base of the mountain slope on a somewhat rougher tread than the prior old woods road. A steep slope rises to the right above the trail and several rock ledges and boulders are visible as you walk. The trail then turns to the right and rejoins the old woods road, following the road to the height of land and starting to descend slightly before turning off the road once again to the right and climbing through a series of rock ledges and then follows the edge of those left until rejoining and turning left on to another woods road.

From this point onward, the remaining majority of the trail is almost level. The trail follows the old woods road past a thick hemlock and evergreen forest to the right and the shoulder of Perch Lake Mountain descending to your left. The trail then passes through the hemlock grove and reaches the start of the small loop that forms the end of the trail. The best way to the follow the loop is to stay to the left when you reach the unsigned trail junction along the ridgetop. The trail makes its way along the ridge, then descends slightly, before beginning to climb gently while passing a very large red maple tree on the right. The trail then joins an old woods road and ends at the unsigned trail junction you had passed earlier.

From this point, the only way to return to the trailhead is to follow the trail that you had ascended back down Perch Lake Mountain, past the Snake Pond Loop and down to BWS Rd 4 and the parking area. The total distance from the trailhead to the end of the loop is 2.65 miles for a total round trip distance of 5.3 (about 5.6 if you add the Snake Pond loop) miles. The total ascent from the trailhead is 760 vertical feet.

For more information on the Catskill Mountain Club
For more information on the Trail Conference's Community Trails Program in the Catskills
The Trail Conference maintains a hiking trail description page for this hike
Recreation on NYC DEP Lands in the Catskills


MORE CATSKILL PARK, HIKING, PLANNING AND VISITOR INFO


Read up on the Catskill Park at our Catskill Mountains Information Page for hikes, advice, travel and planning information. We have a Guide to Hiking in the Catskills available.

Need a hiking map for your hikes in the Catskills?  We recommend the Trail Conference's Catskills Trails 6-Map Set.  These maps are the best available for hiking and outdoor adventures in the Catskills and the Catskill Park. The Catskill Center offers a regional map of the Catskills that provides an excellent overview of the region, it's roadways, attractions and trails.  National Geographic Trails Illustrated also produces a map for the region that is useful for trip planning and road navigation. How about a guidebook?  Both AMC and ADK publish trail guides to the Catskill Region . 

If you are looking for more information about the extensive history of the Catskill Mountains and the Catskill Park, we would suggest reading The Catskills, From Wilderness to Woodstock and The Catskill Park, Inside the Blue Line. For the most comprehensive natural history of the Catskill Park and the Forests of the Catskill region, we recommend reading The Catskill Forest, a History by Michael Kudish.

   

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