View Full Version : Platte Clove in N. Catskills

06-21-2004, 09:39 PM
Im gonna be doing some backpacking along devils path (indian head and twin mostly) and am interested in hiking platte clove. I understand there is no trail and following the streambed is the best option. How can i get to the clove from the surrounding trails or from platte clove road? Also what is the best way to approach hiking the clove and navigating the terrain?
thanks in advance...

Mark Schaefer
06-22-2004, 01:11 AM
If you want to do the entire clove it is easiest to hike up the stream, and then back down the road. Many people prefer to do the clove in two halves as there is a large waterfall in the middle that is difficult to negotiate around. Spotting a second car (or bike) at the top is another option.

It is easy to visit two waterfalls in the Platte Clove Preserve near the top of the clove. At the Long Path trailhead leading south from the Platte Clove Preserve there is room for about 4-5 vehicles along the Platte Clove Road. There is also an off road parking lot 0.2 miles east at the trailhead for the Long Path going north toward Kaaterskill High Peak. On the Long Path going south you will find about a small 5' falls a short distance east of the kingpost bridge carrying the Long Path over the Plattekill (use the south side of the stream). A more impressive 50' waterfall is reached on a separate 0.2 mile trail which starts just east of the Long Path trailhead, down a driveway to the Preserve's artist-in-residence cabin. From that waterfall you can venture down the south side of the Plattekill toward more waterfalls. It is very steep and dangerous. As I recall there are three more waterfalls, at the third you will reach the Hell Hole Brook which enters from the north.

An alternative way to this point is to descend down the west side of the Hell Hole Brook from the stone bridge on the Platte Clove Road. This is just east of the Long Path trailhead going north (site of the off road parking mentioned above). On the Plattekill below the Hell Hole Brook confluence you will shortly arrive at the top of the highest waterfall in the clove. From this point is nearly impossible to descend.

The lower clove is reached by following the Plattekill from the base in West Saugerties. For road directions from exit 20 (Saugerties) of the Thruway refer to this webpage. (http://www.nynjtc.org/trails/record/072403.html) Not mentioned in that description is that Route 33 turns left/south toward Woodstock at a sharp bend. Don't take that left turn, go straight ahead toward the mountains. At the point where "the road now known as Platte Clove Mountain Road begins a steep two-mile ascent through Platte Clove", you will find a road on your left (Tissell Road, I don't think there is a road sign though). Turn left here, on the right along a tall fence there is room for about 4-5 vehicles to park before the bridge over the Plattekill.

The land on both sides of the creek at Tissell Road is private and posted "No trespassing". Walk up the Platte Clove Mountain Road until you reach state land (about 0.4 mile). There is not much in the way of parking on this steep road - so it is easier to park on Tissell Road. From the road it is a very steep bushwhack descent to the unmarked path. The path will lead you past about 4 waterfalls. After the path ceases you may occasionally find better footing on the south side. Many places it easiest to carry your footwear and walk in the stream. When you reach the largest waterfall (mentioned above) the best way to get the upper clove is to scramble up the steep south side of the clove. In doing so you will climb well above the top of that largest waterfall before you can safely contour back to the west to rejoin the stream. You may end up a couple of waterfalls above the confluence of the Hell Hole Brook. If you want to take in those falls you will need to descend down the stream, and then back up to the top of the clove.

To re-emphasize the hike is very steep and dangerous in several places. Also the property owners in West Saugerties have long been upset with trespassers (refer to the customer comments for a book which dared to even briefly describe the lower clove). (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1883789222/ref=cm_cr_dp_2_1/102-5520557-6312166?v=glance&s=books&vi=customer-reviews&me=ATVPDKIKX0DER) Another book, Peter Kick's Catskill Mountain Guide (AMC) describes the 0.2 mile trail to the 50' waterfall at the top of the clove.

Rob S
06-22-2004, 08:21 AM
Awesome post, Mark. Very informative. I'm going to print your post for future reference. I've been wanting to explore Platte Clove myself. Thanks for all the info and the caution regarding the land-owner sensitivities.

06-22-2004, 12:01 PM
Thank for the very very helpful post. Any recommendation on footwear? Should i bring hiking boots, trail runners, or my super sticky chaco Z/2 (colorado)? The chaco's will stick to anything wet but i know there will be rock hopping involved in the hike, do you think i would need the extra support of boots or running shoes? thanks again

06-22-2004, 12:28 PM
I would be up for exploring Platte Clove as well.

06-22-2004, 12:31 PM
hey funky, are you from that area? im gonna be going with my gf so i don't even know if she's gonna be into doing tha clove, so who knows if im even gonna get a chance to do it that weeks (first full week of july, after the 4th) have you been in or around the clove b4?

06-22-2004, 12:59 PM
I'm not from the Catskills but have hiked there quite a bit, know them fairly well by now. I've been around Platte Clove but not in it. From the top of Platte Clove Rd. it looks pretty hairy and very intriguing. Mark, was it you that posted a while ago about bushwacking from Platte clove to Huckleberry Point? That's a hike that sounds interesting. I'm also game for exploring Kaaterskill Clove as well.

I might be up for exploring it this summer or at the gathering. I have a wacky schedule, am free more during the week than I am weekends. I'm going to Maine July 4th weekend and at the end of August/beginning of Sept. I know Warren is also interested in exploring Platte Clove and will be at the gathering. I would be interested in exploring it then or earlier in the summer if my schedule allows. Keep in touch. Thanks, Fred

Mark Schaefer
06-22-2004, 03:13 PM
Had to google to see what Chaco Z/2 Colorado Sandals were. Those would be very helpful hiking in the stream. I have often just barefooted in the stream sections - usually later in the summer. I imagine the water may be cold currently, but may be tolerable.

I have hiked up the entire clove using hiking boots, and on other trips in simple running shoes without a lot of ankle support. Both are doable - probably a matter of preference. Sticky soles should help, but some of mine have not been all that sticky. Some of the steep sections (like Hell Hole Brook) are mostly rock, but the majority of the hike is on a variety of soil and loose shale rock, much of that under vegetation. From the bottom to the top is about 2 miles, and roughly 1000' of climbing. You might need or want to do some backtracking in a few places.

The two waterfalls at the top I mentioned can be done in just about any footwear, and are very easy to reach.

Freddy, I have mentioned Huckleberry Point previously. I have never bushwhacked up from the clove to Huckleberry Point. But I have used what is now a marked trail from the Long Path. There also had been an old unmarked path from the area of the Plate Clove Road's stone bridge over Hell Hole Brook, but that is on private land, now posted, and also has been largely obliterated by a subdivision north of the road.

06-23-2004, 06:04 AM
I found having footwear that was good for walking in water to be a big help in getting up the clove. In some places it's easier to walk the stream rather than navigate the steep sides. Be prepared to scramble.

This is a great walk, one of my favorites.

06-24-2004, 08:39 PM
Thanks for all the great info Mark. I think I will explore Platte Clove with a fishing pole because a friend told me there are lots of native brookies.

06-28-2004, 06:28 AM
While on the topic of the clove:

I've only done this route via bus and taxi. Does anyone know of any neighbor friendly parking at the base of the clove?

Mark Schaefer
06-28-2004, 10:39 PM
I am aware of one option for parking at the bottom of the clove. It is on the last side road on the left (Tissell Road) just before Platte Clove Road starts the steep climb up. There is room for 4-5 cars on the right shoulder of Tissell Road before the bridge over Plattekill. The tall fence on the right was built the week before the Woodstock 94 festival was held in nearby Saugerties (August 1994). The town of Saugerties feared that some of the music fans might stay behind and camp in the clove. At the time the fence went up "No Parking" signs also went up on Tissell Road. That was strictly enforced for about 5 years. After that the no parking signs have come down. Hiker vehicles are parked there most weekends and often during the midweek.

06-29-2004, 07:57 PM
I could have sworn that the last 2 times I parked on Tissel road there were still "No Parking" signs on the fence.

Mark Schaefer
06-30-2004, 09:34 PM
On the way to hike Kaaterskill High today I turned into Tissell Road before driving up the clove. There are no "No Parking" signs on either side of the road, although parking is only feasible on the right/west side of the road. The posted "No trespassing" signs are still prominent on the other side of the fence. There was one vehicle parked on the road. I last hiked into the lower part of the clove on October 14, 2001 and parked on Tissell Road. There were no "No Parking" signs at that time either, nor when I checked last summer. I believe the "No Parking" signs came down around 1999, but I may be off a little on that. So unless somebody has been tearing signs down after they are put up (not likely given the nearby houses) it appears parking is completely legal. I travel up the Platte Clove Road about two dozen times each year, and I do know that the parking fills up on good weather weekends, and even occasionally during the week. The town of Saugerties has a general no overnight parking ban on town roads, which would preclude parking on Tissell road if you intend to camp in the clove overnight.

One correction. I previously (now deleted) mentioned a steep old woods road entering Platte Clove Road on the way up, near the start of forest preserve land. That road is in fact shortly before the start of state land. It is now posted, no trespassing, no parking, and has a chain. That posting is very new as I saw vehicles parked there during May of this year. I have seen vehicles parked elsewhere on Platte Clove Road, but it is quite a ways up before you will find something that is not precarious. Although I have seen some parked vehicles in the darndest and steepest of places.

BTW, the water level in the Plattekill is currently very low. It is probably very easy to walk in the stream now, but the waterfalls are probably less than impressive. The Hell Hole Brook was also little more than a trickle at the stone bridge at the top of the clove. It has been very dry over the last month in the Catskills.

08-24-2004, 10:35 PM
I flyfished and hiked the Plattekill Clove today. It was incredible, but I'll NEVER do the whole thing again. I didn't know how to get down from the top, so I parked at the bottom at the fence. I waded the stream and used the left bank to get up to the state land. I didn't see even one posted sign anywhere after the fence on either side. There was lots of water at 59. I have no words that can describe how wild and beautiful this stream is. I spent hours slowly working my way up and getting around the big falls. I caught some wild brook trout, but not many. This type of steep descending stream is much better fished at low water.

Then I came to a HUGE falls with no easy way around it. There was nothing but rock cliffs. I knew this would happen, so I was prepared to go up on the mountain as far as I needed to, to get around this falls. The left/south side was the only way that seemed possible. I headed straight up till I met a rock cliff and found a rough hikers path along the base of the cliff that took me all the way past two big falls and I ended up on top of the falls just above Hell Hole Brook, and at the base of yet another big falls. This point was my goal. From here I just wanted out so I could walk down the road, but how could I get out? I saw signs that people visit there, so it could be done.

Hell Hole Brook had to be the way out. I crossed the stream at the top of falls above the junction of the streams and got into HHB. The junction area was the only place I didn't fish on the way up, but I wasn't going down there now. It was pretty easy going up at first. Then things got narrow and I was worried this wasn't going to work. I left HHB and tried to find a way up to that high vista NE of the junction area. No way, nothing but sheer rock cliffs. I dreaded the thought of having to go back and retrace my steps back down the whole clove. I continued up HHB and finally got a glimpse of the stone bridge, but I wasn't there yet. I knew I couldn't get up thru that narrow chute. I hoped there was a way to climb up the left side, and thankfully there was.

I walked down the road a long ways and cut over to the stream near the bottom. There were lots of kids swimming and five other vehicles back at the fence. Two vehicles were parked on the big hill at the chain without blocking it. Two other vehicles were parked just past the last house on the way up. That's where I'll park when I return to fish at low water. The difficulty and risk versus reward is not there for me to do the whole clove again. I'm glad I did it once and that was more than enough for me!

08-25-2004, 06:54 AM
If I understand your route correctly, instead of exiting via hell hole brook, you continue up the clove. At the point of hell hole brook the paths your are seeing are likely coming from the nature center located at the head of the clove, you may have to skirt on the sides of the clove again, but ultimately you get to the nature center.

Always wanted to go up hell hole brook, it looked sketchy from the junction and our goal for that day was huckleberry point so we by passed it.

I'm considering leading a hike up the clove in September, if you have a jpeg of a map and can mark the parking spot, I'd appreciate it. I haven't had a chance to scout it.

08-25-2004, 09:48 AM
Warren, the parking I'll use next time is on the left/streamside of the road immediately after the last house going up the hill. There's no big pulloff. You just get off the pavement as soon as you can after the house. I think the state land starts there. It's not marked there, but down at the creek it is clearly marked right after the house. You can see the house from the creek, so the line should go straight up the hill to where I saw those cars parked.

The parking at the fence is obviously heavily used. There's just two posters there by the Saugerties Water Dept. and none anywhere else. Perhaps they just gave up trying to keep people out. It's not like you're walking thru someone's back yard, it's municipal property. Even if other cars are there I still won't feel right using that access and will park on the hill.

I can't imagine getting up to the preserve from where I was, but it may be possible. I drove up there after and checked out both sides of the stream below the wooden foot bridge. The first falls is small. Then comes big falls #1 which is reached from a preserve trail. Big falls #2 is the one I reached the base of. I can't see any way to get up or down around this falls. If there is it must be very dangerous. The base of #3 falls is at the mouth of HHB. I think #4 falls is the big one I had to go way up the mountain to get around. It's possible there is another falls between what I called #3 and #4. It's hard to tell because I didn't go down to look over the falls right after the mouth of HHB. As I made my way around up on the mountain, I could not tell how many falls I was bypassing. I've never seen anything like this stream with so many big falls in rapid succession. HHB may be the safest and easiest way in or out of that area.

I know it's not popular with hikers, but a pair of waist high breatheable waders and a strong wading shoe would be great for this clove. You could walk back and forth across the Plattekill and up HHB without getting soaked.

08-25-2004, 10:55 AM
Thanks for the parking info.

I forget exactly how I got up the falls at the intersection with Hell Brook, but it would have been along the left side- once the more major falls began we always took the left side.

Summer weight, trail runners with lots of ventilation worked well for the Clove. I brought sandals for the back and forths but never used them.