Crosses Deep Ravine
Just beyond the main road north and south (N.N.W.-S.S.E.), three-quarters of a mile south of 1675 on the Berne Quadrangle, the route goes east, then veers somewhat east-northeast along a crooked road to join a more crooked road a mile beyond. Southeast a half mile, then a little south of east the crooked road follows the stream that forms Hemlock Hollow for a mile and a quarter.
Crossing the stream at the head of the deep ravine, the old road continues in an easterly direction. A short walk along the edge of the eastern rim of Hemlock Hollow discloses a beautiful, wild area overlooking the deep hollow. The old road meanders eastward for nearly two miles, in places going due south, to where a road joins it from the west close to a stream.
Abandoning the road, the north side of the stream is followed into the valley of the Switz Kill, where it joins another tributary a half mile below. Several hundred yards north of the confluence of these streams a road running east crosses the main stream, climbing over a spur and dipping into the valley formed by the outlet of Mud Hollow Pond.
Views of Helderberg Plateau
The route then follows a hard road one-quarter mile north and then heads east and northeast. As the road skirts a long ridge and bends north, crossing a small stream, the Long Path again heads cross-country due northeast for three-quarters of a mile, entering another dirt road, where it bends to the east.
After following this road for a half mile to the four corners another cross-country route is followed due northeast, passing the headwaters of a tributary of the Fox Creek on the left and a swamp on the right before reaching the old road that dips into the valley
Cross many "thank-you-marms" on the way down into the valley. Interesting views of the Helderberg Plateau greet the tramper during the mile descent.
Fine View From Highlands
At the intersection of the valley road, the route cuts across the fields, over the creek and continues for three miles on the old road, to Helderberg Postoffice, in a northeast direction, disregarding all branch roads which might easily entice the hiker from his route. The highlands to the right afford many fine views of the surroundings and will repay the time spent in climbing them if the day is clear.
As old Helderberg is approached a little white schoolhouse is about all that marks the site of this forgotten village, whose remains are little more than grass-covered mounds that mark the location of ancient cabins occupied during the Helderberg anti-rent wars.
John Boyd Thacher Park
Back of the schoolhouse a trail winds through the scrub past hemlocks to the Witches’ Hole. The immediate vicinity of Witches' Hole is perhaps one of the most attractive parts of the Helderberg hinterland. Queer caverns, occupied by "porkies," bats, cave crickets and "daddy-long-legs," ancient flint quarries of the Indians, great springs rushing from hidden passageways, fossil coral reefs in the limestone ledges, and many other fascinating things can be found here by the tramper with an active and inquiring mind.
A day spent in this area with the Helderberg lean-to or the Witches Hollow as a base would be a profitable one. The lean-to is in the John Boyd Thacher State Park and is located on the hill just west of Minelot Creek and slightly more than a mile north from the Witches' Hole. The Hole can be entered with a twenty-foot rope, descending to a wide chamber, from which a narrow, tortuous winding way leads north to emerge in the beautiful evergreens of Witches Hollow. According to local tradition this route was often followed by an old woman whose mysterious movements gained her the dubious reputation of a witch.
By RAYMOND H. TORREY
In the last installment of the description of the Long Path of New York, Vincent Schaefer of Schenectady brought the route eastward from the Schoharie Valley into the Helderberg Plateau and at length to John Boyd Thacher State Park, a picturesque preserve, with four miles of cliffs, most of it given to the State by the late Mrs. John Boyd Thacher, widow of a former Mayor of Albany. Now it is in the custody of the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society. It is locally known as the Indian Ladder section because in olden times the Indians climbed the cliffs by means of a great tree set close to them.
The Indian Ladder section of the Helderberg Mountains, Mr. Schaefer truly says, is one of the most fascinating bits of scenery in Eastern New York. For the nature lover, the geologist, paleontologist and other “ologists” the area is a happy hunting ground. The Indians used the trail as a route to their “flint mines” in the hills.
Path Drops From Terrace
The Long Path drops down from the Helderberg lean-to on the higher terrace (west of the cliffs), following Mine Lot Creek to the brink. Going a few hundred yards east, through one of the picnic fields of the park, a wooden ladder leads to a narrow, winding way, known as the Bear Path, along a weathered seam in the rocks.
Heading westward, the path goes under Minelot Falls, and a bit farther, under the roaring or wispy fall, according to season, of Outlet Creek, the underground outlet of Thompson’s Lake, northwest of Indian Ladder.
Tory Cave Refuge
At this point, where the path joins the old Indian Ladder Road, a faint trail can be followed along the base of the cliff northeast to the Tory Cave, a rock shelter used as a refuge, according to Helderberg tradition, both by Indians and white man. The original Indian Ladder once rested against the cliff, later blasted away for the old carriage road, now abandoned.
The Long Path climbs up the old road through the cut. Note the tablet in memory of early geologists, who worked in the Helderbergs, with its border of shell fossils. At the marker pointing to Haile’s Cavern follow the park road northwest half a mile to a crevice known as Fat Man’s Misery.
Here a short side trip may be made (at the risk of the visitor, as this is somewhat dangerous at the bottom, with a steep drop outside the narrow ledge) to the entrance of Haile’s Cave, the largest cave in the immediate region.
Can Be Followed
It can be followed for long distances through mud and water, through low passage-ways and high-vaulted rooms. Any one entering it should be sure his flashlight battery is good for it is a bad place to be caught without lights.
Many grand views of the fertile lowlands which stretch to the Mohawk and the Hudson may be had along the brink of the cliffs and in the far distance are the Adirondacks and Green Mountains. Here and there the ancient remains of the Devonian seas can be found in the form of casts of shells, corals, crinoids, and other creatures, weathered from the lime rock. The Helderbergs have long been classic ground among geologists and paleontologists throughout the world. The New York State Museum issues an excellent guide to the fossils by Miss Winfred Goldring.
Descent to the Helderhills
Continuing along a trail through the woods on the rim rock, the route goes north a mile, then heads northwest a mile to Sutphen’s Sink, a depression containing several caves. Going north another mile across a rocky plateau, the path emerges from the woods for a last look at the lowlands from the Helderberg escarpment. The village of Altamont can be seen close to the base of the hillside.
From here the route swings somewhat south of west for a mile and a half to an old road that winds down the cliff, going north. After going a mile a State road is reached and followed for a quarter mile to another old road that heads north. After going a mile a State road is4 ters of a mile from the Altamont State road another hard road is encountered known as the Old Township Plank Road.
This is crossed, and a route cross country for a half mile takes the hiker to a pretty little stream. Going downstream past several small falls, along an old lane lined with stone walls and past a picturesque old house, the high falls that plunge into Spooky Hollow will be seen alongside the road.
From this point the Long Path heads west and northwest along an old dirt road. Three quarters of a mile from the Spooky Hollow Falls another beautiful fall plunges into a wooded ravine, just below the road. For two and a half miles the road is followed as it traverses a patch of semi-abandoned country, picturesque with boggy meadows, rocky pastures and stone fences.
Christman Wild Life Sanctuary
As a road bearing north is encountered it is followed for a quarter mile and then left for a lane which climbs over a rounded grassy hill. Past a farm perched on the side hill the route continues for a half mile cross country. There it enters a pine plantation of the Christman Wild Life Sanctuary, outdoor headquarters of the Mohawk Valley Hiking Club.
The tramper may stay at Helderhills lean-to, constructed by the Mohawk Valley Hikers as a way station on the Long Path of New York. The sanctuary, which includes more than a hundred acres of land, is owned by Christman, farmer poet, whose nature poems have earned him the title of “Poet of the Helderhills.”
The sanctuary, which was dedicated by the hiking club to the protection and preservation of all forms of wild life, is fast becoming a favorite field for nature students. Nature trails, feeding stations and an exceptional wild flower garden are among the points of interest.
A refreshing swim may be taken by the hiker in the pool near the lean-to at the base of the falls. He should also visit the Christmans, whose homestead is downstream on the Long Path. The next section of the Long Path will take the hiker to the Valley of the Mohawk.
New York Post, June 19, 1934
(Christman Wild Life Sanctuary to Wolf Hollow)
By RAYMOND H. TORREY
The Long Path of New York, carried in last Tuesday's installment by Vincent J. Schaefer of the Mohawk Valley Hiking Club to the Christman Wild Life Sanctuary north of the Helderberg Escarpment, is here extended to the Mohawk River.
From the Sanctuary, where the club has a nature trail and lean-to for hikers, the Long Path combines a cross-country route with one along woodroads and lanes. The Helderhills and the Rotterdam Hills have been heavily glaciated, so that the country is cut up into many rounded hills of all sizes and shapes.
The streams are mostly small but contain exquisite waterfalls veiled with hemlocks. Unlike the Helderbergs, with their complete geological column, the bed rock when encountered is of only one formation, the Sche-nectady shales of the Ordovician Period.
Fossils Are Scarce
Fossils are infrequent, though interesting “mud flows” are often encountered. But we will let Mr. Schaefer carry on his description in his own words:
“Leaving the Christman homestead, the route crosses the railroad tracks and follows them westward for an eighth of a mile to woods. Following a beautiful woodland path, the route gradually climbs into the hills through a beach woods past the ‘Indian clearing,’ to emerge at the western shore of Duane Lake after about half a mile.
“Skirting the western and northern shores, this pretty little lake is left a half mile beyond at the mansion of General North of Revolutionary fame. The present owner welcomes visitors.
Glacial Ridge Encountered
“Three-eighths of a mile east of the North mansion the route leaves the road for a cross-country route. Heading just a bit north of east the edge of Liddle’s Swamp is encountered, a long glacial ridge being followed for nearly a mile. Near the State road (the Great Western Turnpike, Highway Route 20) an old road swings north to intersect the pavement. The road is crossed and the edge of the swamp is followed for another mile.
“In certain parts of this interesting bog white sand deposits still reveal the lake characteristics which indicate its original condition. The sites of several ancient m???s5 are passed before reaching the end of the swamp near the point where Red Creek starts for the lowlands along Norman's Kill.
Follow to Norman's Kill
“After crossing a dirt road the creek is followed for a mile to where it joins the Norman Kill and Princetown. (Note – It is important to get the 1931 edition of the Amsterdam quadrangle of the United States Geological Survey to properly travel this country.)
“Fording the stream (generally dry, bridge upstream if creek is in fresher), provisions can be procured at the general store nearby. L.P.–N.Y. continues north under the railroad through a narrow limestone tunnel. Beyond the tunnel Ronny Brook is followed for a mile and three-quarters. As the main stream finally dwindles to a tiny brook, the second road northeast is crossed and the western edge of the middle tributary is followed due north for a mile.
Excellent Views Afforded
“Excellent views of the Helderbergs and Catskills reward the tramper as the farm roads are followed. Crossing the Putnam Hill Road unit bearing just west of north for a half mile the Maryville Road is reached, close to the headwaters of Poentic Kill. The path continues past School 7, one of the old-time schoolhouses.
“A refreshing drink can be obtained at the well in the school yard. Cutting down the hill through a patch of hemlocks, the Plotter Kill is crossed and a footpath paralleling its north bank is followed northeast. A beautiful fall is seen a half mile from the schoolhouse. Continuing down stream for a quarter mile two more picturesque falls are seen, one on the main stream, the other close to the junction of a tributary brook.
Follow Abandoned Road
“From the top of the falls on the side stream the route heads northwest for a half mile, crossing Gregg Road and continuing cross country for a mile due north, passing eight tiny tributaries of the Rhegel Brugse Kill. Crossing Crawford Road, an abandoned road is followed uphill for a half mile to a bench just below the height of land of the Yantaputchberg.
“The abandoned road is one of the climbing trails used by members of the Schenectady Winter Sports Club to reach their system of ski runs which swing down ‘Old Yantaputch.’One of these trails, known as the 'Bridge Run,' is followed by the L.P.-N.Y. as it zig-zags down the great amphitheatre formed by Waterstreet Creek in a generally northeastern direction for a mile and a quarter, where it goes under the railroad to emerge and cross a branch track, passing the abandoned Erie Canal, reaching the River Road (State Highway 5S) at Woestina School, at the upper end of Rotterdam Junction.
“Provisions can be procured at several stores nearby. Following the State road northwest and then northeast, the Mohawk River is reached a half mile from the school. The river is crossed on the moveable dam of the New York State Barge Canal at Lock 9.
“As the hiker pauses to admire the view upstream, a high grassy hill to the northwest will appear to beckon him. Soon he will traverse its summit. Crossing Lock 9, the route encounters the Mohawk Turnpike, one of the most important roads in the history of America.
“Following this road for an eighth of a mile northwest, a side path leads to a trolley track. At this point a return home can be made by boarding the hourly car and going to either Schenectady or Amsterdam, where bus and train connections can be made. Following the trolley track for three-quarters of a mile northwest, the Verf Kill, or Tequatsera, is crossed and a hill road followed which climbs generally north.
Exceptional Views Obtained
“A half mile uphill the road bends sharply to the west, goes a quarter mile and, at the northerly bend, L.P.-N.Y. leaves the road and heads for the grassy summit a quarter mile northwest. Exceptional views of the Mohawk Valley, the Yantaputch and of Schenectady are to be seen from this point. The road goes north for three-eights of a mile and bends suddenly to the west, going downhill for a mile to cross Van Epps Brook and emerge at the mouth of Wolf Hollow.”
New York Post, June 26, 1934
(Wolf Hollow to Galway)
By RAYMOND H. TORREY
Wolf Hollow, a remarkable natural feature of the Mohawk Valley, north of the crossing of the New York State Barge Canal at Lock 9, is the beginning of today's installment of the description of the proposed route of the Long Path of New York from New York City to Lake Placid, which has been given by W.W, Cady of New York to Gilboa Dam and from that point northward by Vincent J. Schaefer of the Mohawk Valley Hiking Club.
Wolf Hollow, says Mr. Schaefer, is one of the most noted of natural features along the Mohawk. It was formed far in the dim past during a great convulsion of the countryside that caused a slippage on a fault line of more than a thousand feet of vertical elevation.
Evidences Still Visible
The evidences of this great earth movement may still be seen as the follower of the Long Path enters the north of the hollow. As he reaches the point where the Chaughtanoona Creek flows away from the road he will see first parallel and then sharply tilted strata of the Schenectady shale beds, the tilted layers depicting the drag occasioned by the movement.
The L.P.-N.Y. enters the hollow and continues for three-quarters of a mile to its northern end.
Indians Drank at Spring
“In prehistoric times." says Mr. Schaefer, "one of the great Indian trails descended to the Mohawk through the narrow, deep ravine, and many aborigines quenched their thirst at Johnnie's Spring, which is passed on the left shortly after entering the hollow.
“The last great battle between the Iroquois-Mohawks and the Algonkin-Mohicans was fought to a bloody close near the spring and on the rocky nose of Kinaquariones, which faces the river a quarter mile southeast. A side trip up the western slope will afford some unusual panoramas, if the day is clear.
“At a point near the head of the hollow the creek forks, the Long Path follows the branch coming from the north. Past a rocky ledge near where many varieties of ferns and wild flowers of the rarer types are found, the trail continues for a half mile to the Glenville road. At the intersection of the road an outcrop of the Amsterdam phase of the Trenton limestone will be seen in a quarry which was opened to supply rock for the Erie Canal more than a century ago.
“If the stock of provisions is running low it would be well to walk over to Glenville to stock up. The trail can be picked up from this village by following a dirt road that climbs the hill northwest from town.
Use Amsterdam U.S.G.S. Map
“From the old quarry the route continues due north for three-eights of a mile to a fork where an abandoned road bears slightly right. This is followed for two and a half miles as it heads in a generally northern direction to the corners marked 834 on the 1931 Amsterdam United States Geological Survey map, a quarter mile beyond the county line.
“At the corners a field of solid rock bearing several glacial erratics is crossed, as the road continues in a northeastern direction for a half mile to intersect an old quarry and wood road. The top of a rocky ridge covered by a beech woods is then followed as the old road gradually veers to the northwest down-hill past several long-abandoned lime kilns. Three quarters of a mile and State Highway 67 is crossed at B.M. 869.
“To the northeast a rounded hill can be seen. Traveling for a half mile to the summit of Jersey Hill, several fields containing quartz crystals will be passed. The top of Jersey Hill commands an excellent view of Consaulus Vlie, the remains of a post-glacial lake. Many interesting plants may be found in its fastness, including pitcher plants in great profusion. Extensive areas of tamarack and red spruce may be seen, the latter constituting the southern limit of that tree in the Mohawk Valley.
“Descending the northern slope of the hill to the edge of the bog a fine camping spot will be found close to the Governor’s Spring, a half mile north of the summit of Jersey Hill.
Kayaderosseras Range Next
“From the Governor’s Spring the route continues northward along the highlands bordering the bog. After somewhat to the east beyond the spring, a dirt road is followed north for a mile and a half to the Galway Road. While traveling along this road a quaint old burying ground will be passed east of the route. Not far beyond a rocky ridge will be seen west of the road. The rock is Potsdam sandstone, which will be of interest to hikers acquainted with the geology of the region. Interesting plants occur on the talus slope.
“Reaching the Galway Road after passing Prospect Hill, the Long Path bends sharply to the right (east) and after going a mile and an eighth the pleasant and picturesque village of Galway will offer another chance to buy provisions.
“From Galway the route will approach the Kayaderosseras Range, the first ridge of the Adirondacks. Beyond Galway the route gradually leaves the farm country with the open fields and rolling hills for long, wooded slopes. The main mass of the mountains, however, lies beyond the great Sacandaga Reservoir, which glistens beyond the Kayaderosseras.”
New York Post, July 3, 1934
(Galway to Edinburg)
By RAYMOND H. TORREY
Last week's installment of the description of the Long Path of New York, by Vincent J. Schaefer of the Mohawk Valley Hiking Club of Schenectady, carried the route north of the Mohawk River to the village of Galway, a picturesque place with great elms and white houses on State Highway 147. It now continues northward over a rolling country heading into the first range of the Adirondacks.
A bit more than a quarter-mile north of the four corners in Galway a road bearing northeast is followed. This region is on the Broadalbin sheet of the United States Geological Survey. A half-mile beyond the route bears due east on a branch road, then northeast again and after running in that direction for a mile and a quarter reaches the Glowegee Creek, a fast-flowing spring-fed trout stream.
Follows Abandoned Road
Running in a generally northern direction for a mile and a half to a point a half-mile south of Mosherville, the route leaves the road and bears to the northeast over a hill. Three-quarters of a mile beyond it reaches a State road, crosses it, and picks up an old abandoned carriage road, just west of a white house.
Winding across a flats, then up a long, sandy hill, the old road passes groves of pine and gray birch to intersect finally a more traveled road, a mile from the State road.
Route Crosses Alder Creek
“Plunging into the woods in a northeasterly direction," says Mr. Schaefer, "our route joins a dirt road a mile beyond the four corners close to a school. Swinging a bit west of north the Long Path crosses Alder Creek and a mile and quarter from the school house bears northeast on the old Frenchtown Road.
“The hiker now finds himself in a queer, almost forgotten, country. Stone fences run through deep forests which have reclaimed the once cultivated fertile farmland. Clumps of roses and lilacs mark the long abandoned cabin sites. Many families once lived in the now desolate yet beautiful countryside. If the traveler wishes to replenish his stores he continues straight ahead after tramping a mile on the Frenchtown Road; if he has enough to last another day, he swings north and then east for a mile and a quarter to reach Lake Desolation.
“This interesting little lake is said to have been named by a British army officer who was forced to winter there during the revolution. At times this section of the country is really beautiful, at other times it fits its name; at all times, however, the air of mystery and forgotten importance hangs over its glacial meadows and alder swamps.