View Full Version : Bearpen and Vly questions

01-03-2004, 05:24 PM
JayH, Jim and Myself climbed Bearpen and Vly today. We started at the Southern End of Halocott Mt Rd. As we were driving up the dirt rd we came to sign saying private property to top of Mt. I thought this road was a public rd? We ended up parking off on the side just before the sign and hiked up from there. My question is , is it ok to park there and hike up that part of the road? No one bothered us so I guess it is ok as long as you dont block the road. The Catskill 3500 decription of each mt says there is access from both the Northern and Souther end of Halacott rd.

My next question is when did the ski resort on Bearpen close down. Looking at the equipment it must have been a long time ago. It looks like it must have been the old rope tows rather than chair lifts.

01-04-2004, 07:56 AM
"Both of these peaks are privately owned and permission to hike them must be obtained." - Hiking the Catskills by Lee McAllister & Myron S. Ochman (c) 1989.

A few of the peaks in the Catskills over 3500' are privately owned. Although the landowners have been very gracious about giving peakbaggers access, it is important to realize that it is a privilege and not a right.

The "politically correct" way to hike these and any other private mountains in the Catskills is to go on a hike led by the Catskill 3500 Club. To find out about when 3500 Club trips are, you can sign up for the Club newsletter: "The Cannister." You can do that by sending $5 (for a one year subscription) to:

Judith Weiner
755 Anderson Avenue Apt. 4J
Cliffside Park, NJ 07010


Catskill 3500 Club, Inc.
David S. White
28 Mulberry Street
Clinton, NY 13323

The Club's web page is: http://www.catskill-3500-club.org/

- MonadnockVol (3500 Club #959)

01-04-2004, 12:41 PM
Thanks for the info but I have heard many sides to this some say it is OK and others say ask permision. Is it one of those cases were as long as you dont cause trouble the owners are OK with hikers on there land. I do get the Catskill Canister but I am not one for group lead hikes I prefer to go with one or two others. I feel when I go with a group I basically follow. There is no challenge in that. Why do we need permision on Halocott mt road when maps show it as a public road, rt 3 to be specific. Also the state did buy land on both peaks so there are section no longer on private property. It is just getting to that point. The DEC property runs from the hunting shack up to the Canister on Vly and on our way up Bearpen we crossed over DEC property line just past the hunting shack and to the summit of Bearpen or at least very close. I never saw private propert signs on our way up Bearpen only along Halacott Mt road. Even if we need permision how do contact the individuals when they dont leave there address or # on the signs. If anyone else has more info on this I would love to hear it.

Jay H
01-04-2004, 05:51 PM
I am also sure that if that is the most recent publication of that book, 1989 is most likely before the NY DEC obtained the land to Vly/Bearpen anyway.

I see no reason why people have to go on a catskill 3500 led hike on public land such as Vly/Bearpen. Many people put up signs such as 'no parking' on state roads, which I usually take as the land adjacent to the road is private and I respect that right, but we have the right to walk up the main road to access state land.


Mark Schaefer
01-04-2004, 08:23 PM
The Catskill 3500 website does not yet reflect the state purchase of Bearpen and Vly :confused: which is odd. Very brief synopses of the NYS purchases can be found with the following links:
Bearpen purchase on June 10, 1999 (http://www.nynjtc.org/news/1999/bearpen.html)
Vly purchase on February 1, 2001 (http://www.nynjtc.org/news/NYS-press/2-1-2001.html)
The second of these states that the Vly and Bearpen purchases are contiguous which means that both mountains can be reached via state land from the Halcott Mt. Road, which is a public road (although only reliably drivable by 4wd trucks). At the south end one road sign reads Johnson Hollow Road.

There was an announcement in the April-June 2000 edition of the Catskill Canister that cars could no longer be parked on the Brunner property at the south end of Halcott Mt. road, but that parking was still possible along the shoulder of the road at both north and south ends of the road. That is still true, but finding a spot that does not block the road can be a challenge. It never hurts to talk to property owners, if for no other reason than to tell them you will not be hiking on their private property. It may also be helpful to find out from them where the state property line is. But in general it is not required to ask the property owners for permission to park/hike on the Halcott Mt. or Ski Run roads which are both public. Similarly the ridge road from Ski Run Road to the summit of Bearpen is also a public road. I have always found parking at the start of Ski Run road (at County Route 2) to be very ample and easy even in winter.

The property signs along these roads do seem to imply that the road is private, but in truth only the land on the sides of the road is private.

01-04-2004, 09:59 PM
John Graham, (who leads lots of hikes for the 3500 Club) would know the definitive status of Bearpen & Vly. He's a member of this BB, maybe he'll see this thread and enlighten us.

01-05-2004, 05:51 AM
I am confused about 3500 club depending on what link I come from the site appears different The address to send in check to join is also different:confused:
The address I have is:
the Catskill 3500 Club
41 Marley Drive Wyckoff NJ 07481
not Judith or David's address.
Which one is current? I have been doing alot of solos and would like to join the club.
thanks Al

John Graham
01-05-2004, 06:09 AM
The land purchase was just the land on the ridge top, the approach is still problematic. The land on the south side of Halcott Mt Rd. is privately owned by Mr Brunner, as a vacation home, and though posted against tresspassing, he has allowed Catskill 3500 club members to park on his property, as he is also a member. To me this could be interpreted to include those who are climbing the peaks with a mind to joining the 3500 club. What he really objects to are those that use ATVs on his property, and the property is posted to stop them from parking there and off loading their ATVs. I have probably parked there a dozen times, but I have never seen Mr. Brunner, but if it looked like he was there, I would knock on his door, introduce myself, and ask permission. What I would recommend is that if you park on his property, you park in such a way as to not block his access and that you leave a note on your window saying Catskill 3500 Club hiker, or something to that effect. Incidentally, the map shows this road as being Halcott Mt Road, but the sign on this side says Johnson Hollow Rd.

Of course you don't have to belong to the Catskill 3550 Club to hike the public lands there, but if you want to become an aspirant ( one in the process of climbing the peaks and entitled to go on club hikes and recieve the newsletter) then send a $10 check ( the dues went up as of January 1st.), made out to the Catskill 3500 Club to Judith M. Weiner, 755 Anderson Ave., # 4J, Cliffside Park, NJ 07010. There is also a Catskill Club discussion group that is open to members and non-members alike: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/3500club/ . One has to e-mail Howie Dash to join : howiedash@aol.com or gunkman@bestweb.net .

Jay H
01-05-2004, 08:29 AM
isn't Johnson Hollow Road the road the bears left at the junction of Halcott mtn Road by the bridge? My USGS maps shows that Johnson Hollow is in fact left of Halcott mtn road so even though the road is not labelled on my USGS map, it is conceivable that the road that goes through Johnson Hollow is Johnson Hollow Road.

No sign of anybody at the house immediatly after the big Private Property sign when we got there and there is a nice sized tree across the road about 1/4 mile up so unless you have a monster truck, I think most normal sized SUVs or pickups would not be able to go up the road to the hunter shack even if they wanted to. We parked on the shoulder just south of the private property sign and hoofed it up on the main road.

Lots of signs indicating "No Snowmobiles" alongside the road and we did hear an ATV at the summit of Bearpen even though it was all socked in and drizzling.


01-05-2004, 10:09 AM

The info John gave is current. The link to the club on VFTT should be updated.

- MonadnockVol (Catskill 3500 Club #959)

01-05-2004, 06:48 PM
thanks for the updated info from you and John. I will be sending out a check this week.

01-05-2004, 08:39 PM
The access road from the south to the Brunner property is Halcott Mountain Road not Johnson Hollow Road. It is also known as County Road 2. I would not advise parking beyond the entrance to the Brunner property marked by a barely discernible stone wall in the winter. This area is used as a snowplow turnaround and any cars blocking the snowplow will be towed at the owner's expense. I recommend that one or two cars be parked on the shoulder of the road just before the stone wall and any remaining cars be parked about 1/4-1/2 mile south of the wall adjacent the large field on Halcott Mountain Road. Additional details may be found in the West Kill USGS topo map referenced in the excerpt below from the Catskill 3500 site.

<<USGS Map: West Kill

NY-NJ Trail Conference Map: None

Access: Via Bushwhack

Description: Vly is one of two peaks outside the Catskill Blue Line. It is also one of the easier climbs, gaining only 1100 feet in elevation from its usual access point off Halcott Mountain Road. There are no views from the top, but the climb is interesting, being short and steep. Vly is usually climbed in conjunction with Bearpen. Vly is also one of four peaks in the Catskills that are on private land, so please respect the landowners rights. Access is usually via Halcott Mountain Road, from either the north or south. Be sure to sign in at the summit canister. >>

Jay H
01-06-2004, 06:29 AM
FYI, the two big "private property signs" are right next to the stone wall and we parked just before this. The snowplow turnaround is actually about 100 feet beyond the stone wall...

The two old trucks that are rusting away at the summit, did they actually drive them up there, then fix them to the ground and then run a towrope from the pulley and guide that you can make out? Instead of a lift with fixed towers and stuff, it appears that the trucks had a steering wheel on them, with gearing but they also appear to have been driven into a foundation in the ground via steel I-beams. Anybody has pictures of what they looked like when in use? One of them still has a speedo gauge in good shape (reads to about 100mph)


01-06-2004, 08:14 AM
Well, just to further muddy these waters.......Snowshoe says in an earlier post that Halcott Mt. Rd is the same as Rt. 3. Later another post states that Halcott is the same as Johnson Hollow Rd. and later another post states that Halcott Mt. Rd and Rt. 2 are the same.

Mike and I made this attempt and were as equally confused a couple of weeks ago. As I stated in my trail conditions post, we were definitely on Rt. 3, which, based on the maps was the same as Halcott Mt. Rd. As we got near the end of the drivable rd. there were two hunters. One approached our car. I asked if this was Halcott Mt. Rd. His answer was that this was Rt. 3. I don't know if he was being indirect or just stating a fact. He then informed us that he would be hunting quail in the area and said it in a way that conveyed he did not want us around. We opted to go around to Ski Run Rd. and just do Bearpen.

Can anyone definitely straighten out which rd. is Halcott Mt. Rd?

Mark Schaefer
01-06-2004, 09:57 AM
At the point where Halcott Mt Road leaves the main road through the Town of Halcott valley, Johnson Hollow Road is the "more travelled" road that goes left into Johnson Hollow. The hollow, but not the road is labelled on the USGS West Kill quad. My Greene County Maps (both JIMAPCO and the official county map) show the road on the left as Johnson Hollow Road.

The road to the right is Halcott Mt Road, however, the signage is at best confusing and appears to imply that this road has two names: Johnson Hollow Road and Halcott Mt Road. That confusion has even led the DeLorme New York Atlas & Gazetteer (2001 edition) to label Halcott Mt Road as Johnson Hollow Road (which is an error). Both the north and south ends of Halcott Mt Road are labeled Greene County Route 3.

It is fairly common for 4wd vehicles to drive up the north side of Halcott Mt. Road to the hunter's cabin in the notch between Vly and Bearpen. There was a trail condition report last summer (I believe by Head) that stated he had driven up to the notch from the north.

Both summits of Bearpen and Vly are now state owned. The Vly purchase announcement (http://www.nynjtc.org/news/NYS-press/2-1-2001.html) states: "The Vly Mountain parcel lies directly to the east of Bearpen State Forest, which includes the recently acquired summit of Bearpen Mountain." I had interpreted that to mean that the parcels were contiguous, although, I believe John Graham is right when he states the purchase is just the ridge top. I have not climbed Vly since the purchase so I have not seen the new boundary signage.

Jay H
01-06-2004, 10:34 AM
On Vly, there are NY DEC signs right on the road just immediately across from the hunter's shack there. That's where there are yellow and blue property markings on the tree.

[spoilers below]

...you can follow these property markings straight to the canister, I had my bearings already marked on my USGS quadrant but we noticed that the property is pretty much dead on the bearing to the canister so for the most part, we simply followed the markings straight to the canister. In this case, it is kind of hard NOT to follow the markings!

I guess this BB doesn't support the "spoiler" tag...

01-06-2004, 10:38 AM
Thanks Mark, as always you provide great information! That is what we suspected from the maps we had. I guess the hunter we ran into was Brunner or someone using his land. He was not very hospitable, but then again that might have been my perception. Guns make me nervous!

01-06-2004, 11:08 AM
while climbing from the north side last summer i stopped and talked to a guy that was logging - he told me that the road over the top was "still a town road" (he was a landowner on the north side) - so that solves the access problem to the state owned ridge - - - if a road is posted on both sides it is for the property on either side... not the road - if mr. brunner owned the road and didnt like ATVs he would block the road (i block my roads by driving pipes in every 2 feet to keep out the quads) - a town road has a right of way of 25' on either side from the center of the road, so parking on the side of the road is not trespassing.

01-06-2004, 11:18 AM
I figured Halocott Mt rd was a public rd but what gets cofusing is the sign MR Brunner posted on both sides of the road stating that Halacott Mt rd is private property to top of mt. I guess he put that to scare the bulk of people like the ATVs, and Snowmobiles. If he really owned that rd then it would have been gated. Thanks to everyone for the info.

01-06-2004, 06:29 PM
Halcott Mountain Road a/k/a County Road 3

I apologize for the typo in my recent post stating that Halcott Mtn. Rd. is a/k/a Cty. Rd. 2. As noted in NYNJTC map #42 Halcott Mtn. Rd. heading north out of Halcott Center along Vly Creek is labeled Cty. 3. A good source for viewing USGS topo maps is http://terraserver-usa.com/. To view a specific area type in the name of the USGS topo covering the area {West Kill, NY} and then zoom in to view the details. The Terraserver site also provides aerial imagery of the area covered by the topo.