|The view from North Point|
Where is North Point?
North Point is located just north of the North South Lake State Campground in the Catskill Park. It can be reached via three different trail heads. Two of the trailheads (Escarpment Trail and Mary's Glen Trail) are located within the North South Lake State Campground and require the payment of a day use fee to use. The third trailhead (Rock Shelter Trail) is located just outside of the campground limits, and does not require a day-use fee.
|On the edge!|
To get to the North Lake Parking Area, enter the State Campground on North Lake Road, pay the day use fee (which also entitles you to use the beach after your hike) and follow the northern campground road to the parking area for the North Lake Beach and Day Use Area. From the parking area walk east to the edge of the escarpment where the blue marked Escarpment Trail will be running north-south.
Escarpment Trail - North Lake to North Point
After joining the trail at North Lake, head north on the Escarpment Trail (left if you are walking from the parking lot). The trail generally follows the eastern edge (or escarpment) of the Catskill Mountains. Just to the east, the mountains drop away to the Hudson Valley. In places the trail goes right along cliff edges, so be forewarned if you have trouble with heights. If you have children or pets, be sure to keep an eye on them.
|A steeper section|
After just over a half a mile you reach your first stunning vista at Artists Rock. Here the mountains drop off into the Hudson Valley and you are rewarded with a 180 degree of the mountain fronts and the valley beyond. From here you can see miles up and down the Hudson Valley and across to the Berkshire Mountains, Taconics and the Litchfield Hills. This is just the first of many great views along this hike though, so take in this view, but continue on!
|The view from Artists Rock|
|The view from Sunset Rock|
Follow the yellow trail back the 0.2 miles to the trail junction with the Escarpment Trail and once again head north on the Escarpment Trail.
Newman's Ledge is another 0.2 miles north on the Escarpment Trail and offers a similar view to Artists Rock and Lookout Rock, though the cliff is much higher in the case of Newman's Ledge. From here the trail travels to the northwest, leaving the edge of the escarpment and instead heading across the forested mountainside. You'll also pass by several small bogs, which create unexpected openings in the forest and a chance to witness some different wildlife who frequent those areas.
At about six tenths of a mile from Newman's Ledge (0.6 miles), the Escarpment Trail intersects with the yellow blazed Rock Shelter Trail at Badman Cave. Badman Cave is a large rock overhang that can provide some protection from the weather during inclement weather. The trail climbs past the cave and then begins a more steady climb towards the intersection with the Mary's Glen Trail and eventually North Point.
Seven tenths of a mile north of the intersection with the Rock Shelter Trail, the Escarpment Trail intersects with the Mary's Glen Trail. From this intersection it is only a quarter of a mile to the top of North Point, but in that quarter of a mile, much elevation is gained and the trail is steep in places.
The trail climbs up through one final set of stone ledges and emerges at the top of North Point where you are treated to a view down (South) to North and South Lakes and High Peak and Round Top Mountains beyond and east out across the Hudson Valley.
|Views from North Point|
Escarpment Trail to Mary's Glen Trail Intersection to North South Lake Campground Road
For our return trip, we traveled back down the Escarpment Trail (south) to the intersection with the Mary's Glen Trail. The trail junction is only 0.25 miles below North Point. At the trail junction we turned right (west) onto the red blazed Mary's Glen Trail. The trail descends slowly through a series of wet areas and descends over several rock ledges as it makes its way to the North South Lake Campground Road.
|At Mary's Glen|
After about another half a mile of descending, the trail crosses a small stream on a log bridge. Just downstream you can see that the stream cascades over a ledge. This is Ashley Falls. Instead of going to the edge of the falls at the top, stay on the Mary's Glen Trail and descend steeply through the rock ledge. At the bottom, a yellow blazed side trail runs to the base of Ashley Falls, offering a much more enjoyable view of the falls then from the top.
To reach the North South Lake Campground Road, stay on the Mary's Glen Trail and continue downhill. You'll soon come to the side of a small stream and skirt around a wet area. The trail then exits the woods and ends on the shoulder of the campground road. Just to the east is a small parking area for the Mary's Glen Trailhead, but it can only hold a few cars and on most busy weekends, fills quickly.
For us, we followed the campground road to the east about three quarters of a mile back to our car at the North Lake Beach and Day Use Area parking lot.
All told our hike was just over 5 miles and included an 800 vertical foot climb (and descent). The hike is shown on Map 141 (Northeastern Catskills) of the Trail Conference's Catskill Trails Map Set. That map set, along with all guidebooks for Catskills trails include a mileage guide and description of this hike. I would consider this a moderate hike, though there are a few steep sections in both the Escarpment Trail and the Mary's Glen Trail. However, those short steep sections are interspersed with longer almost level stretches, giving you a chance to recover from the climbs. Hikers of almost any ability should be able to complete this hike.
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 one of the following: The Catskills, From Wilderness to Woodstock; The Catskill Park, Inside the Blue Line; or The Catskills, It's History and how it changed America. 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.