Pictures here.

My father (Bucket_Heads) has been working on section hiking the Long Path for a while now, and he's getting close to completing the entire trail north of the Catskills. On Friday, Nov 6, we hiked the 8 mile section that connects the CCC road with Huntersfield Road, traversing South Mountain, Ashland Pinnacle, and Huntersfield State Forests, and following the ridge up and over Huntersfield Mountain.

We started by parking at the end of the non-seasonal portion of Greene County Route 32C, and following the road up to the top of the ridgeline. Here, we encountered logging equipment and a sign stating that the area was closed to the public due to timber harvesting operations. The loggers were very friendly, however, and as they weren't actually harvesting that day, just loading cut logs onto trucks, said they didn't have any problem with us hiking through the harvested area.

Unfortunately, all of the trees with the aqua Long Path blazes had been cut down! It made for a bit of an adventure at first, trying to figure out where the trail went. Fortunately, we were able to spot an aqua blaze at the far end of the harvested area, so we made straight for it and followed the trail into the woods. This section was really bad, lots of blowdown and undergrowth growing up- but we quickly realized why when we saw some painted over blazes and a new line of blazes coming it to join the trail from the right- the trail had been rerouted (presumably to avoid the harvesting operations). The guidebook is several years old at this point, and did not make mention of this new reroute.

Once we were on the right Long Path, the trail improved somewhat, but was still not in great shape. Lots of muddy spots, loose scree and ankle-twisting rocks, and confusing unmarked junctions plagued the trail it's whole length. We were able to guess correctly at each of the unmarked junctions, however, by simply following the path that seemed to best follow the ridgeline. There were spots where I'm pretty sure we weren't on the Long Path, but following some parallel old woods road, but we were able to make it all the way to Huntersfield Mountain without too much difficulty. The trail also goes through some really nice spruce and pine forests, some of them plantation forests.

Along the way, we saw rabbit and coyote tracks in the snow (about half an inch along the ridge to almost a full inch on the summit of Huntersfield). We were able to get some glimpses of views through the trees in some spots as well.

Huntersfield Mountain was the best part of the hike. We got a nice view back along the ridge showing the way we had come, and the lean-to near the summit has a nice view of the Catskills. The lean-to looks like it gets a lot of day hikers visiting it, but few overnighters, judging from the entries in the register. There's no water source nearby either, as it's very nearly on the summit of the mountain. The flagpole type object is still on the summit, bolted to the tree, with no discernible clues to determine it's use for certain.

The trail down the west side of Huntersfield Mountain was in much better shape and easier to follow than the trail following the ridge up the east side. We made it down to the truck trail quite easily. Once back to Huntersfield road where we had parked, we continued an extra mile down the trail to Albert Slater Road, turned around, and headed back up. On the way back up, we stopped to check out a shelter that someone had constructed in the woods using logs and tarps. It looked pretty old, judging from the amount of water pooled in the tarps, the shotgun spray holes in the side, and the general disrepair of the shelter.

I've often had thoughts about what it would be like to through hike the Long Path, but this experience has kind of turned me off to the idea of it. The trail really is in need of maintenance (side cutting and some blow down removal) and hardening (bog bridging/reroutes of muddy sections, removal of ankle twisting cobbles), and needs to be better marked in a few spots as well. I don't really know what the rest of it is like outside the Catskills (in the Catskills I know the trail is reasonably well maintained), but if there's more sections like this one, the trail is still in need of significant work before it can be recognized as a reputable long distance trail. Anyone know if there are work days for sections of the Long Path? I'd love to get involved.