June 6 is National Trails Day, a celebration of the American trails system that's been commemorated on the first Saturday of June for the last 22 years. People are encouraged to get out and hike and bring their friends. If you're looking for a scenic trip in the Catskills that all hikers will enjoy, give Huckleberry Point in Greene County a try.
The trailhead is on County Road 6, also known as Platte Clove Road, south of the village of Tannersville. It can be reached from County Road 16 in the hamlet of Tannersville or County Road 33 which becomes the spectacular, vertiginous Platte Clove Road from West Saugerties.
Huckleberry Point shares the same trailhead as the trail to the top of Kaaterskill High Peak, one of the most prominent mountains in the entire Catskills range. If you're feeling ambitious, continue on up to the Kaaterskill High Peak at the trail junction about halfway through the hike.
From the parking lot at the trailhead, begin hiking by following the blue and red blazes. (The red markers are for a snowmobile trail that shares the first portion of the hike.) The trail is a rocky road in excellent condition that climbs steadily at a moderate gradient.
Stay on the main trail at any intersection and at 2425 feet turn right at a Huckleberry Trail sign pointing east onto a yellow marked trail. The trail climbs gradually before descending .35 miles from the trail intersection, where you cross Hell's Hole Brook, which becomes Plattekill Creek below the Devil's Kitchen, where it falls in a series of spectacular and difficult-to-reach waterfalls.
The brook is a great place to take a break and let kids or dogs can do what kids and dogs do around water.
The hike resumes a gradual ascent on the other side of the stream, passing over some easily ascended ledges. In June, this section of trail is bordered with mountain laurel on both sides of the trail. The showy floral displays can be as fragrant as a flower shop as the trail climbs to its highest point, where it begins a gradual 300-foot drop to Huckleberry Point.
As you descend, look for an unmarked path at 2,300 feet. This unnoticeable 'herd path' leads to a beautiful grove of short pitch pines, a remarkable small forest-within-a-forest. This is a nice appetizer just before descending another 100 feet to the magnificent Huckleberry Point.
Above: The lookout at Huckleberry Point. Photo by Alan Via.
From the Huckleberry Point precipice, there are views of the Hudson River, Overlook, Plattekill, Indian Head, Twin and Plateau Mountains. You can also see over the Hudson River into Massachusetts and Connecticut. The drop down to Platte Clove Creek and the opposite slopes of Plattekill mountain are impressive. Though not on a mountain summit, the views rival any you'll experience in the Catskills. You can sit on the rocks above the cliff, or sit back 30 feet in the shade for the same view.
It's a good idea to leash your dog before approaching the spectacular rocky overlook, and keep children away from the edge.
The hike is 4.5 miles roundtrip and climbs 1100 feet in elevation gain, a moderate journey that the entire family can enjoy.
Alan Via is the author of “The Catskill 67: A Hiker’s Guide To The Catskill 100 Highest Peaks Under 3,500” and many articles on the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains. He is working on two new hiking guides. He is also one of the tower volunteers at the Overlook Mountain Fire Tower.