Bearpen / Vly route advice

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New member
Nov 27, 2004
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Central New York
We’re planning on climbing Bearpen and Vly sometime before hunting (firearm) season starts. We’ll be hiking from the col between the two mountains. Are the herd paths going up these mountains easy to locate? On the map, neither looks difficult to navigate, but I've heard there’s a network of logging, snowmobile, and hiking routes on Bearpen and also that the summits are on private land. Any insights are welcome.

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Umm, this should be in Q&A!

To answer your question, not really, but then again, I don't know how well your route finding is. You still need to take a bearing, can't guarantee you will be on a herdpath or not and sometimes it's faster just to follow your bearing/compass.

The path to vly surely follows the property markers... Various roads lead to bearpen, they seem to switchback but you can follow it or simply follow a bearing, which is what we did, you'll surely find the paths as you get closer to the summit anyway and I hate following switchbacks...

Sorry, wrong location...

Sorry, I accidentally posted this thread in the Site Help location. I've got a request in to Darren to shift it to Q&A. I'm a little slower than usual this a.m.

The summits of Bearpen and Vly are both state owned now. The state also owns a wide strip of land than connects the two summits, and that includes the access routes from Halcott Mt Road. As Jay mentioned you can follow the state land boundary to Vly.

As you approach the summit of Bearpen you will likely see a few private posted signs on the north side where there are some cut views, but don't bother with them. A much better view to the north exists at a clearing on state land near the summit. It is the top of a wide old road / ATV track from Ski Run Road. You might a find a slightly higher spot off in the trees to the left/south, but many hikers count the clearing as the summit. You should be able to see Huntersfield Mt, the white painted Pratt Rocks (these will appear very small), and the Schoharie Reservoir to the north.

If you have time and want more views on Bearpen: Along the ridge, past where the wide road descends, you should see a narrow and a bit overgrown path that follows the top of the ridge (somewhat WNW). This will lead to another north view, and then eventually at the end of the ridge top to some west and northwest views. There you can see the Plattekill Ski center, and many other 3000+' mountains, the closest is Roundtop Mt. Return the same way you came.
There is a wood road that goes up toward Bearpen from the hunters shack in the col. Follow the level track north for about two hundred yards, then take the one that slants up toward the ridge. Just before reaching the crest of the ridge, this ascending wood road makes a sharp switch back and heads off in the wrong direction. Follow it a little way to the height of land, and bushwack up the ridgeline, you will probably hit a well defined herdpath. Follow this ridge line/herdpath for about half a mile till it comes out on another wood road coming up from the east. This track can be followed all the way to the summit, which is just off the track, wooded with no view. Continuing along the track will lead you first to a partial view, and in 100 yards to a better view.

The route up Vly also leaves from the hunters shack, with a defined herdpath leading up the west side of the ridge to the canister.
Bearpen Nad Vly

Bearpen; there is a woods road that goes partway up and when thisd road begins to loose elevation then you should leave it. There are good herdpaths and old roads along the summit ridge and I would stick to them as there is a great deal of brambles up there. Pick up the woods road from the saddle between these two peaks.

Vly; once I did find a faint trail that had fading blue spray-paint blazes marking it. But I would just use a map and compass and follow along the easy ridge up from the saddle.

As with most of the trailles peaks, as you near the summit and especially the canister, a web of herdpaths will appear. This can be very confusing, and I find that a compass is most helpfull at this point.