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Old 04-14-2012, 12:33 AM   #1
mountainmeijin
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Huckleberry Ridge-Dry Brook Ridge Loop - 4/13/12

Quite a few different ways to tackle this one, but I figured the smartest choice was to leave a straight route to the car at the end, once trail fatigue had set in. I parked at the lower DEC lot on Huckleberry Brook Road, the one just past the wooden bridge that's hidden up on the high embankment to the left. It's too narrow to make the turn there, so I wound up having to reverse up the steep incline and over the narrow, eroded road to the parking area--a real adventure in a 19' long American land yacht. So the fun started before my feet even hit the ground!

I started off around 10:00 am and hiked up Huckleberry Brook Road until the trail left the road by that old barn. Weird having a trail suddenly just cut through a yard like that. Anyway, I was doing the loop clockwise, so as to leave the long steep drop back into Huckleberry Brook valley for the end. I must say, the trail up to Dry Brook Ridge from here is gorgeous. Deep, dark groves of red pines with ferny glades here and there and soft needles underfoot. In fact, this whole loop has interesting forestry, alternating between open deciduous woods and clusters of pine and hemlock.

The hike up to the ridge went quicker than I thought, and I was at the northern vista on Dry Brook Ridge by 12:30, where I ate lunch. Only a few patches of snow remaining, at the foot of north-facing ledges on the upper parts of Dry Brook Ridge. Those vistas up along the ridge are fantastic, though. You really get a sense of how different the western Cats are from the eastern Cats looking out over those rolling ridges and valleys. Oddly enough, there was some water remaining in the marshy ponds along the ridge top. Who'da thought?

I turned off onto the southern leg of the Huckleberry Loop and began the trip back. Interesting terrain down on the lower parts of this valley. The woods are very, very open and there are huge glacial erratics scattered here and there. I crossed over Ploutz Road, and found a much quicker and easier trip back up to Huckleberry Ridge than I expected, which made me feel that I chose to do this loop in the right direction. The trip over the ridge, however, is much longer than it looked on the map, and I was taken aback when I looked again and saw this leg of the hike listed as 5.5 miles. It's definitely a haul, especially with those ups and downs on the ridge. The trails are not well traveled here, either, and fairly overgrown in places, so navigation isn't always obvious. In fact, other than a ranger, I was the only person to have signed the Ploutz Road register in the last month.

There's an interesting open meadow right below the far western bump on the ridge. Not sure what the origin of that is, but it invited you to linger in the sun. Starting down the south rim of the valley I found, for the second week in a row, a discarded party balloon. I imagine this one drifted here and deflated. In any case, this remote area doesn't suggest a helium balloon with a picture of Goofy and Donald Duck on it, with the message "Happy 4th Birthday, Alejandro!" so I packed it out. Pretty steep drop down into the valley. I'd be a little wary of hiking that section in winter. Got back to the road by 4:30 and lingered by the brook for a while. About 12.9 miles and 2800' vertical altogether. Beautiful day!

Pics: http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/582645303EnJFJL
Some came out a little blurry for some reason, though.
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Old 04-14-2012, 08:12 AM   #2
Jay H
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Recognize some of those shots, good to hear your land yacht made it up the steep hill to the trailhead.. You should try to see if it can get up to the parking on the south side of Rt 28 just before Oliverea (aka Slide Mtn) Road in Big Indian, that looks like a steep angle as well.

Jay
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Old 04-14-2012, 08:53 PM   #3
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I've often felt that the herd paths in the Adirondacks are easier to follow than the Dry Brook Ridge trail. And yeah, definitely longer than it looks with plenty of PUDS thrown in - a good, classic NY trail!
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Old 04-14-2012, 11:48 PM   #4
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I wonder if the Huckleberry Ridge trail was included in the trails that were re-surveyed by GPS for the new map set?

The reason I ask is because on the NY-NY map set, the Dry Brook Ridge trail shows its various twists and PUDS very clearly, but the Huckleberry Ridge trail is a LOT more sinuous than it appears on the map.
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