On Saturday, August 16th I wanted to go back to Schoharie County and finish the Long Path section from Middleburgh to the Albany County Line. I planned to park where I had ended the last hike on Treadlemire Road. I had planned to do this on Friday but spent most of the early morning searching for an rescuing an injured logger. The weather forecast was good with no rain in sight and temperatures only in the low 70’s. When I awoke in the morning it was 47 degrees in Livingston Manor with a heavy fog. I decided to go anyway although I wanted to have some decent conditions for photography since the trail description promised at least three “spectacular” viewpoints. I wanted to leave Livingston Manor early and did manage to get out before 8:00 AM. I got Sheila in the car and we headed up the Beaverkill Road to the Barkaboom 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, Grand Gorge, North Blenheim and Middleburgh. Just over the Route 30 bridge in Middleburgh, I turned right on Route 145 and followed it to the other side of town where I turned left on Cotton Hill Road. After about 3 miles, I made a left on Treadlemire Road and drove just less than a mile to the parking area on the right. By 9:40 AM we were ready to hike and walked out the back of the parking area on a woods road. After a very short distance, we turned left and walked up a trail between two rocks with very interesting sedimentary layers. Within .3 miles we walked up a steep but short hill and arrived at the Cotton Hill lean-to. I looked for the “views to northern Schoharie County” as stated in the trail description but the trees blocked all the views and probably had for some time. I kicked myself for believing the trail descriptions which have proven to be wrong so many times!
After the lean-to, we started a descent and I realized that since we had started at the parking area at over 2000 feet the descent would be a long one. Of course, we would have to walk back up the hill at the end of the hike. We were following a nice combination of trail and woods roads and I was glad that the blazes were for the out part well placed and visible as there were numerous other paths and roads that crossed the trail. At 1.2 miles we hit what appeared to be a DEC access road which we followed out to Cotton Hill Road. The trail crossed the road and continued to descend briefly to a bridge across a stream. We had now descended over 700 feet from our starting point and had covered about 2 miles. We were now heading south but climbing on a woods road. Near the top of the hill at about 2.4 miles the trail turned off the road to the right and began an even steeper climb. It soon leveled off and then began to descend. At 2.7 miles we were on a woods road and made a sharp left before breaking out into an open area. Perhaps the highlight of the day was the PortaJon that was sitting out in the middle of nowhere! I was going to check inside but the sign indicated it was occupied. Even through this area the blazes were clear and we continued south. We continued to walk on the woods road along the western side of Canady Hill until about 3.5 miles where the trail turned sharply left and began a steep ascent. For some time I had noticed signs of active logging in the area and it was very noticeable on the ascent. The trail description said that we would “climb over the hill” which I took to mean over the summit but the trail took us well to the southwest of the top.
As we started to crest the hill I began to hear a series of dull thuds. Once we were over the top we began to descend on a woods road eventually coming to an open field. The “thuds” were now obviously gunfire most probably from a semiautomatic shotgun. The trail description talked about a “spectacular view” but there was no view. The gunfire continued and changed to the price of a high-powered rifle. I knew that his most likely came from a firing range but it was still making me nervous. I knew we were on private land and the situation reminded me that private landowners can do what they want with their own land! The trail leveled out and we were soon in an area that the trail description advised was “very wet”. They got this one right. Sheila and I found some high ground and the aqua blazes and we soon made it to Canady Hill Road. The gunfire continued and I consulted my GPS and cell phone to choose an alternate return route. We had just hiked 4 miles and had about 1.5 miles to go to our destination where we could turn around. I estimated that walking the roads to avoid the gunfire would be at least 9 miles and perhaps more. I put off the decision until later. I stowed my poles and put Sheila on her leash as we turned right on Canady Hill Road and then made a quick left on Lawton Hollow Road.
The road immediately descended and then started to ascend again. The trail description mentioned “views” to both the north and south but there were no views. I don’t know who writes these descriptions but they are not accurate. At 5.4 miles there was a gravel pit on the left with a few spaces for parking and just passed this a sign for the Albany County Line. We stopped briefly to get a drink and a snack and the turned around at 12:05 PM to begin our return trip. We walked back on Lawton Hollow Road to Canady Hill Road where we turned right. When we got to the point where we would have to turn onto the private land I listened and could hear no gunfire. I got out my poles, released Sheila and we crossed the half mile to the brow of Canady Hill in record time. Once we were over the top of the hill I breathed more easily. As we started down the steep descent back to the woods road, I heard the roar of approaching machinery which I assumed was a log skidder or truck. We continued our descent and never saw the source of the noise. We turned right on the woods road and started back toward Cotton Hill Road. This part of the hike was mostly downhill and we were at the road at 1:30 PM having covered 9 miles. I had thought about walking the roads from there back to the car but decided the shortest, most direct route was the best. We crossed the road and started our 1.5 mile ascent to the top of Cotton Hill. We passed the lean-to and started down the final bit of trail to the car when I began to hear gunfire again. We hurried down the woods road taking it all the way back to the parking area. I was glad to get back to the car at 2:25 PM having covered 11 miles in 4 hours and 45 minutes with a vertical gain along the way of 2360 feet. I* was disappointed that the trail description was 0 for 3 on views and that I had not had the opportunity to take any pictures.