Location: Delaware County, N.Y.
Trails: Catskill Scenic Trail (Stamford to South Kortright)
Elevation: ~1,785-1,800 feet
Surface: Crushed stone, grass, and dirt rail-trail (with some paved road crossings)
Shoes: Patagonia Fore Runner
Wildlife and other animals spotted: Chipmunks, snails, rabbits, Rottweilers, cows, horses
Companion: Erin (first mile), then solo
A few years ago, I was learning about rail-trails when I read about the Catskill Scenic Trail (CST), a public path along the right-of-way of the Delaware & Ulster Railroad, which once served a vital role in transportation to upstate New York. The railroad still exists as a seasonal tourist ride along part of the old route, but a 26-mile portion between Roxbury and Bloomville was converted into the public path open to cyclists, pedestrians, equestrians, and cross-county skiers.
|My starting point in Stamford.|
I set off from Stamford with Erin, who walked and ran with me for a mile before turning around and heading back to the car. The plan was for her to drive down to Hobart and wait for me. After the mixed-bag of a stage we'd had on Sunday, I wasn't sure how I'd feel after a few miles and was prepared to end the stage at Hobart and call it a day.
|West Branch Delaware River; hard to believe this dinky thing |
turns into that majestic river that flows past Philly.
One place along the trail, I passed within a few feet of a gazebo and at another I could have high-fived a person in a hammock (luckily it was empty). The feeling of hiking or running so close to private land is a bit eerie. Indeed, one stretch of the trail just past one of several crossings of CR-18 cuts through the front lawn of a farm; here the trail surface is grass and is indistinguishable from the private farmland. Indeed, had I not just passed the octagonal blue, yellow, and white CST sign assuring me I was going the right way, I might have thought I was lost and trespassing.
|Many parts of the trail are shaded.|
Much of the trail is shaded under a canopy of trees, but many portions of the route are in the open. Luckily, the morning was mostly overcast and breezy, so sun and heat were not a problem. I passed two cyclists, another runner, and a couple of walkers between Stamford and Hobart, but encountered not a soul on the trail itself between Hobart and South Kortright. That portion of the trail is very quiet and peaceful. I'd guess (it's only a guess) that this segment is not as well-traveled.
After close to 8 miles, I concluded my stage at another spot where the trail crosses CR-18. Erin picked me up and we drove back to Hobart for lunch and bookstore browsing. (The hamlet boasts five -- yes FIVE -- bookshops on Main Street.) After the frustrations of the prior day's stage, being able to finish so many miles while also feeling strong was very welcome.
STAGE MILES: ~7.9
CUMULATIVE MILES: ~19.2
- I really liked the route I chose. I have read some good reviews of the route going the other way: from Stamford to Grand Gorge. However, some users report that portions of the trail near and past Grand Gorge are a bit more rugged and still have the old railroad ties embedded in the ground.
- Be prepared for dogs. I past a few that were inside enclosed pens, but they certainly made me notice their presence. Near South Kortright, a barking dog charged me but then slowed down and stopped. For a few seconds I was a bit nervous.
- Be respectful of private landowners. Don't litter, for frak's sake and stay on the trail. You should have no reason to leave the trail and cross private land unless it's an emergency.
- Be careful at the many road crossings. The roads are quiet enough that crossing is no biggie, but just keep in mind that although this is a countryside run/hike, it's not like using trails on parkland.
- Hobart is a great place to take a break or even finish your run/hike.
- I found the trail to be well-maintained and not overgrown. In fact, the grassy areas around the several rest benches was freshly cut.
- Bugs were not a major problem like in some places I have hiked, but you are running along wet areas so I did get bothered a bit. Reapplying bug repellent will be necessary on longer runs.
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