On Tuesday, July 29th I wanted to go back to Schoharie County and start a new section of trail from Doney Hollow to West Fulton. I planned to break then hike into two sections with the middle point being the place where the trail meets Old Cemetery Road. The weather forecast was good but there was a chance of an afternoon shower. I wanted to leave Livingston Manor early but had to meet with a contractor at our church at 8:30 AM. The contractor arrived early and the meeting was short so I was able to leave just after 8:30 AM. I got Sheila in the car and we headed up the Beaverkill Road to the Barakaboom Road. At the end of the road I turned right on BWS 10 and took it to Route 28 in Margaretville. We turned right and then left to follow Route 30 through Margaretville, Roxbury and Grand Gorge. Just after coming to North Blenheim, I turned left on West Kill Road and drove a little over two miles where there was a small pulloff on the left side of the road. We got ourselves ready and started our hike at 10:05 AM by walking along the road and over a bridge to the point where the trail cut right into the woods. The trail followed a woods road but after a short distance left the road to climb a bank. After another short distance, the trail rejoined the road. I wondered why the trail didn’t simply stay on the road! For the next 1.6 miles the trail stayed mostly on woods roads paralleling a small creek. There were no majestic views over the countryside but there was a lot of evidence of past habitation. At about 1.25 miles there was a large pile of stones across the stream. It took me a minute to realize that this was once a dam and the site of one of two water-powered sawmills. On the other side of the trail was a set of stone steps that led to a foundation. After taking a few pictures, we continued our hike. We were passing by the summit of Burnt Hill. The area got its name from the frequent fires that were purposefully set in the early 1900’s to improve the blueberry crops.
Within a short distance, at about 1.9 miles, the trail crossed Burnt Hill Road. The road was little more than a single lane dirt and gravel woods road at this point. We crossed the road and at 2.25 miles came to a short side trail on the left that led to a small but pretty pond. I could see a road or trail on the other side. We stopped and I took a few shots before continuing on the main trail. A little passed the pond we began a rather steep descent to Cole Hollow Brook. The ground was wet and the rocks covered with slippery moss. In .6 miles we dropped over 400 feet and I was not looking forward to the return trip up the slippery slope. We walked another quarter mile northwest along the brook before the trail came to Cole Hollow Road. Along the way there were several “pool diggers” in the brook. These artificial “waterfalls” oxygenate the water and help to erode small pools. Both of these actions help trout and other game fish to survive when the water level is low and the temperature rises. We turned left on Cole Hollow Road and walked to about 4 miles where the road turned left. We continued straight ahead on what is marked as Thomson Road on many maps. The old name for the road is Huckleberry Kingdom Road reflecting the importance of that “crop” in the area. We walked along this road for only about .5 miles where the road turned left into the woods. Just before this turn there was a homestead on the right side of the road. This was the site of the home of Henry Conklin. Conklin authored the book Through Poverty’s Vale, which details the difficulty of living in area in the 1840s.
The trail traveled along a stream and there was a healthy crop of nettles to wade through. The trail is little traveled and the nettles were so annoying I thought about giving up and turning around. Fortunately, the trail entered a pine forest and seemed to follow a woods road which made the hike more pleasant in several ways. At about 5 miles we crossed a small stream on a bridge and the trail intersected with a gravel road. The road was marked as Old Cemetery Road on my GPS and I knew this was as far as I wanted to go on this section of the hike. I wanted to avoid the climb back up from Cole Hollow and wanted a different view of the area. I decided to hike south on Old Cemetery Road and then take one of the CCC roads south to Burnt Hill Road near the pond we had passed by earlier. It was 12:30 PM when we turned left onto the road and we were about 5.2 miles into the hike. Walking the roads was much easier than the trails particularly because of the level surface. At 6.3 miles we stayed to the right at a fork in the road to get on one of the many CCC roads in the area. This road had a very good gravel surface and was easy to walk although it headed uphill toward the pond and Burnt Hill. At 7.5 miles I was actually surprised that we passed so close to the pond we had been at earlier. It was obvious that the road I had seen earlier on the other side of the pond was the one we were walking on. I decided to continue out to Burnt Hill Road where we turned left and headed back toward the trail which we would take back to the car. As we were hiking along, I was thinking hard about something and missed the turn onto the trail. We turned around and after a very short distance Sheila turned left into the woods. I was about to call her back when I realized she had turned onto the trail! The rest of then hike was a repeat of what we had done earlier only in reverse. When we got to the point where the trail left the woods road, I could see why this was necessary. The woods road was severely eroded and all but disappeared into the small creek. We were back at the car at 2:15 PM having hiked 9.7 miles in just over 4 hours. The vertical gain was 1770 feet.