View Full Version : Rusk herd paths?

10-06-2004, 10:32 AM
I am looking for the best route to the peak of Rusk. Are there any herd paths? I am especially interested in an approch off of the Spruceton trail.

Rob S
10-06-2004, 11:29 AM
Without the benefit of my maps or guidebooks handy, I'll attempt to give you a general idea. I'm sure others will chime in to give you more details.

At the hairpin turn on the Spruceton Trail, cross the stream and proceed northwest. You'll see an old stone-row which you can follow for a few hundred yards or more and you'll also see faint herd-paths and an occasional small cairn along the way. Since you are travelling through mostly hardwood forest, the going is generally very easy and you can actually see Rusk along the way. True compass skills are not needed for this one, but I find it fun to use anyway.

There were some small areas of blowdown to negotiate last November when I did this, but there was also a bulldozer and some flagging nearby, not sure what is going on.

Near the summit, there are some ledgy areas to negotiate, but nothing difficult. In November there were several areas where decent views to the south could be found, but I'm not sure what you'd find right now. I'd imagine the leaves will be down in a few weeks.

Have a great hike!


10-06-2004, 12:18 PM
I was on this again a few months ago and checked my journal to refresh my memory.

Start at the FIRST Hunter Mt trailhead on the Spruceton road.
Start up the Hunter trail (old carriage road) and at about 1/2 mile from the start, you'll come to the large hairpin turn the bends to the right referred to in the above post. Leave the carriage road at this point, following the drainage of a large stream that angles up and left. Stay up on the left bank as its rough down in the drainage. The drainages will then try to push you LEFT which is OK. Climb thru the ledges below the Hunter-Rusk ridge and at that point, the connecting ridge is narrow enough that there is a distinct herd path. I hit the ridge about 1/4 mile from the cannister. As you climb, the leaves will be coming off so you'll probably be able to glimpse the ridge and Rusk as you climb.

There is a better way down. If fallen leaves haven't obscured it, there is a faint herd path that leaves directly from the cannister that is a nice way thru the upper ledges. It appears and disappears but it will get you down very nicely, and parallels your ascent route without having to deal with all the drainage you had on the way up. If you keep to your right on the way down, at around 2,700' you'll pick up a pretty good woods road that will take you right to the Spruceton Road, near where a small stream crosses Spruceton Road about 1/4 mile WEST of the Hunter trailhead where you parked. This is the SECOND bridge before the trailhead. Total trip is about 3 1/2 miles and 1,700' ascent. Nice half day trip. Be aware though, the woods in this area are rock-strewn. With falling leaves, it might take a little longer with the footing partially hidden.

Jay H
10-07-2004, 06:15 AM
Another option to do rusk is after taking the usual path from the switchback to the canister, you can go east, follow the ridge to the (If I remember right) the East peak of Rusk. You'll eventually hit a bunch of thick spruce but when you do, you can just go down the hill (fairly steep. My friend Jim and I did it in winter and we had about a 1000ft butt glissade down which was way fun). and back to the Spruceton trail. I lost my wool hat that day so if you ever see a black wool cap with a llama emblazed on it, then let me know. I lost it coming down that east peak.


Ned Kipperson
10-08-2004, 01:02 AM
Words to live by... Don't make any herdpaths in the Catskills, don't expect any herdpaths in the Catskills. Take what you're woodsman skills show you, and that's that. It'll prevent a redux of the fiasco faced in the 46. Good luck

10-08-2004, 07:00 AM
I didn't notice any obvious herd paths up Rusk last fall. It's pretty easy from the obvious hairpin turn on the Spruceton trail. We just used a compass and kept heading uphill in the right direction. :) It's all pretty open hardwood forest until the summit.
There is a little bit of a rock ledge just before the summit. It's a little tricky for dogs, but a nice place for lunch.

Puma concolor
10-08-2004, 09:04 AM
The route Peakbagger describes is also the route I took. I also agree that you shouldn't waste your time looking for faint herd paths that may or may not be there. It's open woods and the summit is can't miss as long as you keep hiking up. As I recall, there were a few minor cliffs to navigate up high, but no heavy lifting. On your way down, don't worry about hitting the Carriage Road at your exact point of departure ... you'll know it will be there and you'll know you'll hit it as long as you keep downclimbing in the right general direction.

10-08-2004, 09:37 AM
Herd paths in the Catskills can be deceptive,to say the least! Take SW Hunter for example. There are herd paths all over that relatively flat summit and they lead you around in the circles when you approach from the north.

I haven't climbed Rusk yet but hope to do it soon.

10-08-2004, 12:48 PM
The summit is very easy to locate. I wasn't suggesting the herd path off the summit for navigation purposes. The woods surrounding Rush have lots of rocks on them, generally poor footing compared to other areas of the Cats with a better ground.
The path I suggested off offers 2 advantages. Its a route thru the cliffs just below the summit that allows you to avoid a lot of hunting around on the descent. The other is that once you're thru the cliff band, if you fight the terrain's inclination to push you LEFT and stay to the RIGHT, you'll hit a woods road which gets you off the lousy, rocky footing on the descent. This is an issue at this time of year when leaves hide rocks.