Conesville to Mine Kill Falls

ConesvilleMineKillJul2014_04camera32gps_pictalltrailseverytrailcaltopomapmyhikeOn Friday, July 25th I was still a little tired from the hike day before. The weather forecast was so perfect I decided to go back to the Mine Kill Falls area and hike from Conesville To Mine Kill Falls. I knew this route had a lot of road walking and that this would make my estimated 12 mile route easier than hiking it all on trails. to leave Livingston Manor just before8:00 AM. We headed to Roscoe on Route 17. From Roscoe we went north on Route 206 to the Pepacton reservoir and turned right when we got to the T at Route 30. We followed Route 30 to the Dunraven Bridge and then took BWS 10 to Route 28 near Margaretville. We turned right and then left to follow Route 30 through Margaretville, Roxbury and Grand Gorge. In about 5 miles we were at the junction with Route 990V and turned right. I drove about 3 miles to Conesville and turned right on the Prattsville Road. Just after crossing the bridge, I parked on the side of the road. It was 9:20 AM and both Sheila and I were ready to start our hike right away! We walked back across the bridge to Route 990V and turned left to hike the shoulder oft he road back toward Gilboa. I had a trail description with distance but no real map to follow. The road had a lot of traffic but Sheila knows how to walk on a leash. The shoulder was wide enough in most places but did get narrow in some others. The road rolled a little until we passed the Gilboa-Conesville School on the right at about 1 mile. Just after this the road narrows for the ongoing construction on the dam. We crossed to the other side of the road briefly and started a descent to the post office. Just after the post office there is a small display of fossils found when excavating the reservoir. More fossils are in a small museum on Stryker Road. The museum in only open on summer weekends from 12:00 PM to 4:30 PM! The descent continued to 1.9 miles when we crossed Schoharie Creek on the road bridge. From here we walked up hill to the right turn onto Stryker Road. Stryker Road is now a dead end from both directions and is closed to through traffic. I did not know what caused this closure and was interested to find out.

ConesvilleMineKillJul2014_14Walking on Stryker Road was a pleasure since the traffic was light. As we walked we passed a farm on the left that seemed to have exotic animals but none were present in the fields. At about 2.6 miles we passed the barrier that blocked traffic but I did not immediately see the reason. As we walked around the barrier, I could see that the creek had undercut the road on the right side making it dangerous for any traffic. I stopped to take a few pictures and noticed what seemed to be more erosion downstream. We continued to walk down the road with Sheila now freed from her leash as there was no possibility of traffic. At 3.1 miles ether were a series of rock ledges at the side of the road. The first did not look as promising as the second so I continued passed it. As I approached the second ledge, the road all but disappeared. I stopped to take a few pictures up and down the creek and of the damage it had caused to the road. A little farther along the road was down to a single track for walking! From the road I could see a huge area of erosion ahead where an entire hillside seemed to be in danger of collapsing into the creek! The road became a road again and started to climb. We came to the last barrier at around 3.3 miles and I put Sheila back on her leash. As we continued toward the Nickerson Park Campgrounds, I noticed ribbons and flagging along the road. At 3.5 miles we turned into the campground and followed the aqua blazes behind the store and down the main camp road. The flagging and ribbons continued through the campgrounds. At one point we cut to the right off the road onto a trail but then came right back to the road after a short distance. I was trying to follow the description that I had printed out but soon realized that the blazes were all that I needed. When we were passing by the pool, I asked someone about the flagging and they told me that the campgrounds would host a warrior run on Saturday! We continued through the campgrounds staying mostly on the roads and following the blazes.

ConesvilleMineKillJul2014_26Eventually we ran out of campground roads and entered the woods on a trail at about 4.4 miles. The trail was muddy in spots and at about 4.75 miles began a short but steep climb. At the top the trail leveled and made a sharp right turn to head directly for Schoharie Creek. At 4.9 miles there was a nice viewpoint upstream and down to the water at least 50 feet below. Some clouds were beginning to appear in the sky allowing for better pictures. After taking a few shots we continued along the rim of the gorge. This continued for about a quarter of a mile and we stopped several more times so that I could get some more shots. During one stop, I heard someone behind us clear his voice. I was surprised to see a mountain biker right behind us! We said “Hello” and he asked some questions about the trail. I told him what I knew and Sheila and I continued on our way. Soon the trail descended steeply and then made a sharp left turn to run along the banks of a small stream parallel to the main creek. We walked upstream and took a break by walking down the steep bank to a rock shelf on the edge of the water. Sheila immediately dove in to swim as I took some pictures. When she exited the stream, she proceeded to shake off the excess water all over me! I though this was the Mine Kill but a look at the GPS showed we were just crossing a smaller stream. We continued to walk upstream until a set of stepping stones let us cross. On the other side we walked along the bank back downstream until the trail cut up the bank. At the top of the climb we were at a powerline right-of-way where the trail markers led us right and then left up the bank to the woods.

ConesvilleMineKillJul2014_31At 5.8 miles we were within sight of the Mine Kill and we made a hard left to begin walking parallel to the stream. The distance I was getting on my GPS were farther than the distances in the description. The trail kept climbing and at 6.7 miles we passed the cutoff to the lower part of Mine Kill Falls. It was a quick walk to the parking area where I collapsed by poles and stowed them in my pack and put Sheila on her leash. We were now at 7.1 miles and I had decided to walk the roads back to the Nickerson Park Campgrounds. Surprisingly it was only about .4 miles on Route 30 and another mile to the campgrounds on Stryker Road. Along the way we passed by the staging area and start line for the Warrior Run. Once we were at the campground road, we simply reversed the walk from earlier in the morning. It went quicker than I thought it might. This time as we passed the farm we could here a peacock. Sheila seemed very interested in the sound but I encouraged her to keep walking. We turned left into Route 990V at 9.8 miles and walked down to the bridge. After crossing the bridge, we began the uphill climb passed the dam and school. When we had walked down the hill in the morning, I thought that walking back up would be tiring. We actually made very good time up the hill with Sheila giving me a little assistance. The final mile back to the car went quickly and the GPS had just registered 12 miles when we returned to the car at 1:50 PM> We had hiked 11.9 miles in just under 4.5 hours with a vertical gain of 1750 feet. I considered walking down the bank to get some pictures of Manor Kill Falls but decided the water volume was not sufficient to make the pictures interesting.