On Thursday, May 4th, I finished a short hike at the Mongaup River Trail on Route 97 and then headed for the Hickok Brook MUA which was on my way home. I drove north on CR-31 (Upper Mongaup Road) for a little over 5 miles to Glen Spey. I turned right and then made a quick left on CR-32 (Proctor Road). I drove north and west for a little less than 4 miles and turned left on Barker Road. I watched carefully for the sign for Hickok Brook MUA but I didn’t need to worry since the typical yellow on brown sign appeared on the right in .6 miles. I pulled into the parking area and had to decided whether to park in the lot outside the gate or drive farther down the road. I opted to park in the lot and hike the road even though the gate looked like it would not be closed. There was a van parked in the lot as I got my gear ready to go. I let Sheila run free but encouraged her to stay on the road as I had already picked several ticks off her coat. We started southwest on the road at 12:40 PM. The sun was out now and I was warm even in the light jacket. This time I brought my poles even though the road was flat and in good shape. I had remembered to bring insect repellant but the slightly cooler temperatures and the breeze were keeping the insects away. My intention was to hike all the trails I could find to make sure the information on the trailkeeper.org website was accurate. I had made a geospatial PDF of the area which I knew would help when the trails became difficult to follow. At .35 miles the road started to head west and one of the trails marked on the map turned off the road to the left. I decided to do the side trail on the way back. As we walked down the road a car came toward us from inside the area. The driver stopped and asked about camping in the area. I told him it was state land and as long as there was a campsite marker camping was permitted. He thanked me but did not turn around so I assume he was just scouting the area. We continued west passing a road that was part of another side trail at .7 miles. At .8 miles we turned off the road to the left to follow a road that becomes a trail. In a few hundred feet we walked to the shores of a small pond. I dropped my pack and took out my camera to take some pictures of what would be the only “feature” of the hike. After packing up the camera, we headed back out on the trail which had yellow DEC foot trail markers. At 1.35 miles we came to a sign that said “Private Property”. I had been under the impression that the trail was all on state land. I decided to backtrack to see if I could find another trail. I went back about .2 miles and found nothing. I decided to press on reasoning that if I was on private property it would not be for long. The signs were very unclear and at 1.9 miles I ran into a blue blazed trail heading left or right. I decided to turn left and see if it headed back to the yellow trail I had been hiking. The blue trail seemed almost unused but within .25 miles I was back at the “Private Property” sign! I turned around and found that I would never have seen the turn if I had not known it was there. I turned around and followed the blue trail back to the junction with the woods road. I turned left and followed the woods road until it made a right turn to the northwest. After only .3 miles the trail came out onto a gravel road. Along the way I had packed up some yellow blazes again but only for a short distance.
When we hit the gravel road and turned right or south, I noticed that the sky had clouded over a little more but that it was still warm we walked south on the road for .65 miles when one of the side trail on my map appeared on the right. We turned right on the grassy woods road which was not blazed in any way. After a short walk we came to a clearing with a picnic bench, table and fire ring. We continued through the clearing following the woods road with the help of the map on my cell phone. We were descending for the first time on the hike but I didn’t know where we would end. Soon I could see a kind of gate on the trail ahead and some “Posted” signs. A look at the map confirmed this was the end of the trail which turned out to be a walk to nowhere. We turned round and climbed back up the to the picnic area area and back to the road. The side trip was .9 miles for very little payoff. We stopped at the edge of the road to get a drink for both of us and a bar for me. We continued along the road headed south watching for the next side trail. I kept consulting my iPhone Avenza app which indicated the trail should be on the right. I could not find any trail although I did see a clearing off in the forest. I decided to continue on the road. In another .4 miles we were back at the point were we had turned onto the trail to the pond earlier in the hike. A little more than .1 miles farther was the gravel road that seemed to be part of a trail to the south. We turned right onto the road and began to walk south. The day was still warm and the walking pleasant although I was beginning to get tired. After walking .6 miles, I could see the turnaround at the end of the road but I had not seen the trail that should have turned off the road to the right! We turned around and walked back down the road looking for the trail on the left. Neither Sheila nor I could find any evidence of a trail or even a well-worn path. We continued to the end of the road and turned right to head back to the car. There was one more side trail which should have appeared in about another .3 miles along the road. When the trail did not show up, we kept walking and found it a little farther along. We turned right into the woods and began to follow another unmarked and unmaintained trail! We soon came to a swamp and I considered turning around but pressed onward. A little after the swamp I picked up, some yellow ribbons which seemed to follow the path of the trail on my map. I soon began pushing through small pine trees with the ribbons carrying me father south and east than I wanted to go. The direction I thought I should go showed no evidence of a trail. I decided to turn around and call it a day. We walked back the same way we had come and back out to the road. We turned right and walked back to the car arriving at 3:35 PM. We had hiked 7.3 miles in 2 hours and 55 minutes with an elevation gain of 855 feet. I find it hard to recommend the Hickok Brook MUA as a hike unless you are going there for the solitude it can provide. I would suggest the loop without the side trails which is what I presented in the trail link above.