New York Appalachian Trail: Depot Hill Road to Morgan Stewart Shelter
Depot Hill Road to Morgan Stewart Shelter (NEW YORK)
Journal notes from Tom, Hena, and Brea Baurley on Sunday, June 4th, 2000.
Appalachian Trail Head
Depot road to
Morgan Stewart Shelter
Saturday afternoon, we started tracking down the location of Depot Hill road in order for us to pick up where we left off from Saturday’s hike. We took 292 south through Lake Whaley (NY) and turned right on Grape Vine Hollow Road, followed it’s paved twists and turns, and turned right on Depot road and watch in concern as the road starts to thin and becomes rocky, losing paving quickly. With a subtle swamp to our left, we have faint memories of Florida terrain as we drove down dirt roads around Wakulla county. We finally come to a halt as Hena warns me not to drive any further, as Depot Hill road has not become a steep hilly road with cuts and slashes of gullies and potholes, knowing our Honda Accord could not make it up any farther. So we pull up, grab our packs and our dogs, and hike up the rocky road passable maybe with a 4 wheel drive – which also shares natural space with a stream trickling down it. About a 1/2 mile hike, pass private property on both sides, we finally enter the Depot Hill state multi-use recreational area with the road flatter, more dirt, and drivable (had we still the car with us). We reach where we left off on Saturday at the intersection of the Appalachian Trail and Depot Hill road. Ready to begin our hike to Morgan Stewart Shelter.
As we hiked in I notice the numerous blackberry plants along the trail and future thoughts of an upcoming late summer spot for picking them come to mind, as well as, memories of a research paper I did about them in the South covering the lore that surrounds them, and fond thoughts of the various home-made dishes that I once made from the berries. But the most overwhelming thought of all is how wonderful they would taste during a summer hike. Refreshing!
Along the way, towards where we started along the road, were some beautiful and mystical birch trees. They serve as a beautiful reminder to me as we start our journey on the Appalachian Trail – a wonderful sign of “new beginnings”. The Birch tree has always been very meaningful to me, and as such, I’ve always been a fan of it’s beauty, history, and lore. One of the things I like most about the Appalachian Trail in the Northeast is the myriad of varieties of trees. To add to the beauty, the trail is extremely beautiful and different for each of the seasons – whether snow covered branches in the winter, or decorated with fall foliage, or spring flowers, the trail in these parts will always give you a different view each time you hike it.
If you are following the Appalachian Trail Guide to New York – New Jersey, see page 56 (this is mile mark 2.2 from NY 55). The trail from the road is of varying terrain – mostly climbing with going up and down inclines. Shortly down the trail at this point is a seasonal pond to your left and some rocky areas. From the seasonal pond the trail turns to the right and we descended down through a narrow ravine. From the narrow ravine you will go down some rock steps and the trail levels off. (Mile mark 2.7) After hiking some a little through the ravine, you will begin to ascend as you climb another incline (mile mark 2.9) to reach a rock ledge with some great views. (mile mark 3.0) Most notable is the climb along the top ridge that takes you along some fascinating rock breaks and ledge seats that give you a great natural seat on which to sit to rest from the hike up from the road. During the spring and summer, the terrain and trail is decorated with some unique flowering plants and species of plants. Up top before getting to the shelter, you can find some scenic spots overlooking the valley, though you definitely have to hike a bit off trail to see them.
Be careful where you walk as Fire salamanders (newts) can always be found around the trail in this region. Please be careful not to step on them as a careless foot will destroy this beautiful fragile creature. We spotted many along the trail as we hiked and learned quickly to be soft footed.
After walking along the rock ledge you will descend briefly over the rocks and come to a side trail that leads to the Morgan Stewart Shelter (75 feet from the trail) (around mile mark 3.3). Here, as you see in the pictures below, is the Morgan Stewart Shelter. One of the better maintained and provided shelters on the trail, you have a clean and sturdy shelter with a very permanent rock fireplace/campfire pit, a porta-potty/privy, and a well down the hill just 400 feet down the hill from the shelter. The well is the old fashioned hand pump equipped with a bucket. The well is actually at the end of a un-mapped primal road – the end of which we had apparently parked before Depot Hill road got so rough and dangerous. According to the guide, this well is a very dependable water source.
We hiked back to the car after this day hike. Join us soon for our continued journey from the Morgan Stewart shelter.
Morgan Stewart Shelter
New York Appalachian Trail: Depot Hill Road to Morgan Stewart Shelter to Route 52
Depot Hill Road to Morgan Stewart Shelter to Route 52 (NEW YORK)
Journal notes from Tom, Hena, and Brea Baurley on Sunday, June 18th, 2000.
Appalachian Trail Head
Depot road to
Morgan Stewart Shelter
Sunday afternoon we parked one of our cars at the parking area on Rt. 52 (for App. Trail) and then headed towards Depot Hill road from the other / official entrance. To do so, we turned right out of the App. Trail parking area onto 52 (going ______ ), went up to Rt. _______, turned right, followed ______ to Depot Hill Road (just after _________ ). Make a right onto Depot hill road, follow paved section to radio tower, continue on into the Depot Hill Recreation area onto dirt road, drive pass App. trail, and park in designated parking areas. We then donned our backpacks and walked to the trail for a repeat hike to the Morgan Stewart Shelter. This area has lots of deer, fire salamanders (or newts), blackberry bushes, mountain and yellow laurel, and many other critters.
We pretty much rapidly hike up to the Morgan Stewart Shelter instead of taking our time or making much notes of our journey as you can read the details from the more detailed hike to Morgan Stewart, see www.crosscountryinfo.com/usa/newyork/apptrail/morgan-stewart.html.
I did notice some different things along the hike (as expected) like the stone structure (above), more salamanders, deer, and other scenery. You will go through the descents and ascents as mentioned in the above link and walk along the ridge with some great views and finally arrive at the Morgan Stewart Shelter. As we visited the shelter this time around, a hiker coming from Georgia (on his 4th month with a 6 month leave of absence from work) talked to us a bit about his journey and good times. He was from Connecticut and is hiking from Georgia to Maine. Very inspirational. He went down to the well and we needed to press on, otherwise I would have loved to ask him for his name and if he cared if we took his photo and posted it here. Who knows, he (you) might be reading this and e-mail us your photo and stories from the trails later. We would love to post them here.
We left Morgan Stewart Shelter and started walking along more ridge line. Since today was quite rainy, we covered out backpacks with garbage bags and treadled lightly on the path as it was scattered with Salamanders – I lost count at 15. So if it’s damp out and not too hot, be on the lookout. The ridge line is great, pretty cool geology with the boulders cracked clean providing nice shelves to sit and rest a bit from the climb if so wanted.
If you are following the Appalachian Trail Guide to New York – New Jersey, see page 57 (the ridge at the Geological Marker is mile mark ___ from NY 55). We didn’t see the geologic marker, but then again we really were not looking out for it. We did however see some beautiful flowering Mountain Laurel in full bloom.
Laurel is so majestic along the trail at this time of year. So much beauty and so much bloom, it’s so overwhelming.
After you walk the ridge line, you’ll head over on the other side of ____ Mountain. Here you can get some great views – as they say in the Guide, of the Catskills and _____. However, since this has been a very rainy day, the fog/mist level was too dense along the horizon to really see them. However, the view was fabulous still.
The trail from this point, winds down the other side of the mountain, with some great outcroppings of mountain laurel and some great rocks to climb.