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Alander from Bash Bish

A tranquil, enchanting hike with many excellent views — and some exposure to rattlesnakes.

Hike Length: 6.5 miles (10.46 km)

Total Ascent: 1,900ft (579m)

Intensity: Moderate Hike

Route Type: Out-and-Back

Includes: Blazed Trail

Parent Alander

Similar Entries In: Moderate Hikes, Taconics, , , , , , , , .

rock ledge and tree

Rock scramble

 Out-and-back from the north. A little steep at first.

This is a great hike if you crave solitude among mountain laurel and pitch pines, as well as interesting geology — but also enjoy solid scenic views!

The parking area is the same lot used by visitors to Bash Bish Falls (which are currently closed to the public due to COVID-19). So, although it’s a large lot, bear in mind it’s for one of the most popular destinations in the area.

From the parking area follow the road behind the lot.

After 500 ft or so, the trail heads south and your ascent begins.

 Warning! In warmer months, this hike includes potential exposure to rattlesnakes.

Look for the white blazes of the main South Taconic trail which runs north/south for apx 20 miles in total along the western Taconic ridge line.

Note: Unlike the blazes in the Catskills, Taconic blazes are non-reflective. So if you don’t have a headlamp and batteries in your pack, make sure you’re off these hills before dark.

trail marker on tree
White trail marker

Taconic Geology

I’m so used to seeing Catskills shale and sandstone that the rocks on Alander immediately struck me as wildly different and even alien-seeming. The Catskills underwent no metamorphic processes; there’s much shale in the Catskills, but no slate. In contrast, the Taconics underwent intense metamorphism.

Taconic rocks are remarkably shiny, almost metallic-looking. There’s so much beautiful quartzite on display as inclusions, or as discreet rocks, just lying in the open or draped in moss. The geologic texture of the Taconics is one of several characteristics that make them magical to hike.

taconic rock
Metamorphic rock with quartz inclusion
rock
Taconic rock

Much of the immediate scenery is like this. Everywhere you look is an amazing natural still life…

still life with rock, branch, moss
Taconic still life

Side Trail to Taconic View

At 1550’, keep an eye to your left for a short side trail (blue blazes) that leads down to a nice view point. You’ll be looking across to the Catskills escarpment.

blue trail marker on tree
This short blue side-trail leads to a nice view of the Catskills

Back on the main trail (white blazes again), the trail begins to get a little rugged as you gain elevation.

forest still life
Quartz, moss, tree, forest
still life
Quartz, moss, tree

Scramble

At 1750’ this rock scramble presents a bit of a challenge. It’s steep and tricky, and people have fallen here and been injured, so proceed with caution. This section is short, and is the only tricky spot on the hike.

rock ledge and tree
Rock scramble

The Upper Ridge

Once you get above 1800’, the hardest work is done. The trail winds through dense mountain laurel stands and over rocky nubs. There’s lots of pitch pine too.

pitch pine tree
This pitch perfect Pitch Pine though
Pitch pine close-up
Pitch pine needles and cones

Here’s three seconds of video showing some of the differences between white pine and pitch pine.

Briefly: on white pine the needles are thinner and arranged in fascicles (groups) of five, whereas on pitch pine the needles are thicker and arranged in fascicles of three.

The Fire Watcher’s Cabin

About 300’ before the summit, a side trail heads left to a run-down old cabin which is worth exploring. On this day, the light was fading and we were short on time, so we didn’t visit — but it’s a fun stop and I will get back to it soon via a different route to Alander’s otherworldly summit.

Alander’s Summit

Unlike the Catskills, where most of our summits are treed-in, Alander’s summit is a wide-open expanse of bald rock. Concrete footings for the old fire tower (dismantled in the 1930s) are still visible.

The view extends west and south to the foothills, and Brace and Frissell mountains are visible in the near distance.

summit of alander mountain
Summit. The concrete footings for the old fire tower are still in place.

A large grassy area to the side is a great spot to rest and snack before turning around. From here, it’s just over three miles back to the parking area.

I had such fun company on this hike, I didn’t take many photos. I’ll return to Alander soon, as there are two more excellent trailed routes to the summit.

This hike offers excellent solitude and interesting geology the whole way, but also great scenic views from several points along the ridge line.

Trailhead Info for this Hike

Description: Large lot — but popular and busy as it serves Bash Bish Falls State Park.

GPS Location: 42.117580, -73.508318

Location: The map below shows the exact topographic location of the trailhead.

Cell Service

As always, you cannot depend on cell service in mountainous areas but, in this part of the Taconics, cell reception is actually pretty good for much of the hike. My network is Verizon. YMMV.

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