Mt. Isolation Advice

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BISCUT

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Hopewell Junction NY
Looking to give Mt. Isolation a visit. I'm dealing with a knee issue, full replacement at some point. I have responded well with Visco shots. Pretty solid/stable on the up but the return is where the pain will hit. I've been doing some hikes in the Catskill and they have been a ok. Whites are quite the difference though. Hiking poles really make a big difference for me. I'm not sure what route would be better for me. Glen Bounder to Davis Path or Rocky Branch, to Isolation, to Davis Path. Also wondering about average times for each route.

Thanks in advance!
 
I'm typing this reply just about two weeks post-TKR, so I totally understand where you're at ...

Rocky Branch is the far easier route, with mostly flat/gentle grades the whole way. The book times for the trails that make up this approach can be found in the AMC White Mtn. Guide.
 
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Glen Boulder Trail is extremely rough and rugged, adds a lot of vertical to the hike and is a "treat" even for healthy knees. If your knees are an issue I would avoid that route. Does have spectacular views though.
 
Thank you Tim. Big plus on the link! I had the site linked in my bookmarks and one day went to use it, gone. I'm glad to see it is still available.
 
I haven't done Glen Boulder Trail but I assumed it would be similar to hiking in the ravines with comparable terrain. Thanks DayTrip.
 
I did the Glen Boulder approach. Was fun, stellar views, but agree not for the weak-kneed (which my knees are slowly becoming). ;) A lot of the steepness is right from the get-go leaving the Glen Ellis p-lot.
 
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Here is a traverse with the gradient (profile) visible.

HTH,
Tim
 

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Don't overlook going via the Dry River trail. I set a camp on the river and summited via West Isolation trail. Come back and grab your camp gear then out.
 
Check out this blog entry in Steve Smith Mountain Wanderer Blog from June 2016. Rocky Branch was hit hard by Tropical Storm Irene back in 2011. His report indicates FS just reopened the trail after many re-routes. His report indicates 4 water crossings so you should might watch or attempt during dry spells. He ran into map maker Larry Garland probably working on fresh GPS data to update maps for all the relo's. Might want to invest in latest edition of trail map to get better handle on relo's.

https://mountainwandering.blogspot.com/2016/06/rocky-branch-valley-6216-on-cool-cloudy.html
 
Check out this blog entry in Steve Smith Mountain Wanderer Blog from June 2016. Rocky Branch was hit hard by Tropical Storm Irene back in 2011. His report indicates FS just reopened the trail after many re-routes. His report indicates 4 water crossings so you should might watch or attempt during dry spells. He ran into map maker Larry Garland probably working on fresh GPS data to update maps for all the relo's. Might want to invest in latest edition of trail map to get better handle on relo's.

https://mountainwandering.blogspot.com/2016/06/rocky-branch-valley-6216-on-cool-cloudy.html

That report pertains to the Southern parts of the Rocky Branch Trail, which is generally not the way most people hit Isolation. The portion of the RBT from Rte 16 to where it picks up Isolation were not affected. I did that Southern section after the damage (2018 I believe) and this report and the relocations are all pretty obvious. The damage is pretty amazing. There is one impressive stretch in particular where you're walking a nice level path, you see the river and suddenly you're standing on the edge of a cliff looking down some 30' feet to the water. That stretch of RBT is pretty enjoyable actually with all the river crossings as it makes its way up the valley. Oddly enough despite saying most people don't do Isolation that way I went to Isolation that way and came back on Davis Path to hit Mt Davis and Stairs Mtn and return via Stairs Col. Nice loop.
 
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Don't overlook going via the Dry River trail. I set a camp on the river and summited via West Isolation trail. Come back and grab your camp gear then out.

This is probably the most knee-friendly route and might provide the most solitude. 16.5ish miles.
 
I went in via Rocky Branch from RT 16 a couple of years ago to Davis Path then visited the summit and then continued onwards down in the Dry River via the westerly Isolation trail. A serious blowdown from several year ago was cleaned up nicely but the last 1/2 mile or so before the Dry River trail where the trail transitions from a ridge to the sides of the drainage was quite challenging. The trail at one point appears to have been cut along the top of steep slopes and possibly cut into slopes, there were numerous washouts or varying width which required tedious navigating up and down loose gravel slopes. Its starts out easy and gets harder as the junction of the Dry River Trail is approached. We lost the trail bed of the Isolation Trail down near the junction with the DRT but quickly found the DRT. The DRT has similar washouts with various workarounds somewhat established until the suspension bridge. It was a long day.

I would vote for the Rocky Branch trail from RT 16 in and out.

I also did the lower Rocky Branch trail a few years back. It is an interesting hike with relocations in place for most of the washouts but there is one stretch where there was a change in the course of the river which required some route finding. I would be interested to see that area as the slides were a work in progress and expect it looks differently after a few seasons.
 
I went in via Rocky Branch from RT 16 a couple of years ago to Davis Path then visited the summit and then continued onwards down in the Dry River via the westerly Isolation trail. A serious blowdown from several year ago was cleaned up nicely but the last 1/2 mile or so before the Dry River trail where the trail transitions from a ridge to the sides of the drainage was quite challenging. The trail at one point appears to have been cut along the top of steep slopes and possibly cut into slopes, there were numerous washouts or varying width which required tedious navigating up and down loose gravel slopes. Its starts out easy and gets harder as the junction of the Dry River Trail is approached. We lost the trail bed of the Isolation Trail down near the junction with the DRT but quickly found the DRT. The DRT has similar washouts with various workarounds somewhat established until the suspension bridge. It was a long day.

I would vote for the Rocky Branch trail from RT 16 in and out.

I also did the lower Rocky Branch trail a few years back. It is an interesting hike with relocations in place for most of the washouts but there is one stretch where there was a change in the course of the river which required some route finding. I would be interested to see that area as the slides were a work in progress and expect it looks differently after a few seasons.

I tried that last OCT on my annual DRT foliage hike going up from Dry River Trail (not down from the ridge) and after about half a mile I threw in the towel and turned around. It was extremely tedious. The constant gravel side hilling didn't feel super safe. I wound up crossing the river and following the river back on the opposite side of the trail and then cut across the river back to the trail after the washed out sections.
 
Thank you all for the excellent info. Much appreciated! And post hike I'm looking forward to giving the new Gorham Brewery a spin! I've heard a rumor good brews decrease swollen knees :D
 
I went in via Rocky Branch from RT 16 a couple of years ago to Davis Path then visited the summit and then continued onwards down in the Dry River via the westerly Isolation trail. A serious blowdown from several year ago was cleaned up nicely but the last 1/2 mile or so before the Dry River trail where the trail transitions from a ridge to the sides of the drainage was quite challenging. The trail at one point appears to have been cut along the top of steep slopes and possibly cut into slopes, there were numerous washouts or varying width which required tedious navigating up and down loose gravel slopes. Its starts out easy and gets harder as the junction of the Dry River Trail is approached. We lost the trail bed of the Isolation Trail down near the junction with the DRT but quickly found the DRT. The DRT has similar washouts with various workarounds somewhat established until the suspension bridge. It was a long day.

I haven't been on Iso West since the day after the Irene reopening. Apparently it didn't stay clear for long.
 
That lower 1/2 mile is clear, its just the trail bed is washed out in many locations due to active slides. There would need to be major relocation to miss them and given its a Wilderness area, I do not see that happening.
 
I went in via Rocky Branch from RT 16 a couple of years ago to Davis Path then visited the summit and then continued onwards down in the Dry River via the westerly Isolation trail. A serious blowdown from several year ago was cleaned up nicely but the last 1/2 mile or so before the Dry River trail where the trail transitions from a ridge to the sides of the drainage was quite challenging. The trail at one point appears to have been cut along the top of steep slopes and possibly cut into slopes, there were numerous washouts or varying width which required tedious navigating up and down loose gravel slopes. Its starts out easy and gets harder as the junction of the Dry River Trail is approached. We lost the trail bed of the Isolation Trail down near the junction with the DRT but quickly found the DRT. The DRT has similar washouts with various workarounds somewhat established until the suspension bridge. It was a long day.

I would vote for the Rocky Branch trail from RT 16 in and out.

I also did the lower Rocky Branch trail a few years back. It is an interesting hike with relocations in place for most of the washouts but there is one stretch where there was a change in the course of the river which required some route finding. I would be interested to see that area as the slides were a work in progress and expect it looks differently after a few seasons.
Lower Rocky Branch is more than likely going to become more and more tedious. With low maintenance already and the Bridge being removed one will sure to want to pick and choose the time of their hike.
 
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