Lollipop loop, very easy.
Hiking Trail Description
Rochester Hollow has three marked trails that can be stacked to make a 3.5 mile, 4.7 mile, or 6.1 mile out-and-back hike. These trails — especially the Yellow and Red trails — are shockingly underused by bipeds despite being a clear hotspot among the quadruped set.
From Exit 19 (Kingston) on I-87 drive along Route 28 for less than 40 minutes. Pass through Big Indian for 1 mile and look for brown DEC signs for Rochester Hollow pointing to the right.
Make sure your nav system doesn’t guide you up Rose Mountain Road where you will be greeted by a sign that says “Not Matyas Road!”
The trailhead parking area is large and, judging by the trail register, rarely full.
There are two primitive camping sites near the beginning of the trail. The first is on the left, in a nice open flat area between the trail and the voluble tributary stream that flows down from the back of the hollow.
The first 1.75 miles of trail is on an old road, so it’s wide and flat. Very suitable for skiers, snowshoers, joggers, trail-runners, walkers, and wheelchairs — it’s ADA compliant.
If you step down off the trail, you’ll see the amount of work that went into building it…
The trail follows the tributary (which flows into Birch Creek) for most of the way. It‘s very pleasant even in winter, but I’m guessing it’s twice as beautiful in the three seasons.
There are a lot of fine old hemlock trees along the lower part of this trail.
Higher up, you’ll pass a lot of birch and maple trees.
Burroughs Memorial Trail
After 1.75 miles you’ll come to a junction which is very difficult to spot. There is no sign. I walked right past it and had to double-back. If you look very carefully in the woods, you might be able to spot some yellow paint or blazes.
The trail markings switch between, for the most part, yellow paint daubs, and a few round DEC blazes. This section of trail is not ADA compliant.
After winding and ascending, the Burroughs Memorial Trail heads west and passes through heavily farmed land with many impressive stone fences. These are the most numerous, and the tallest, intact stone walls I’ve seen so far in the Catskills.
There are also a number of impressive old stone ruins.
This one is probably the foundation for an old maple syrup sap house…
Keep heading west, past and through many more stone fences…
Eventually, you come downhill and reconnect with the blue Colonel Rochester Trail. Turn right.
The next section is remarkably flat. On each side of the trail, there are numerous ruins and fences.
After about ¼ mile you’ll pass this conspicuously odd structure…
Alan Via tells me this is the remnant of an old garage used on the Colonel Rochester Estate, and would have housed carriages; the long curved wall opposite the garage seems to bear this out.
Keep going. There’s lots more to see.
Before long, uphill on the right, you’ll see the Rochester Hollow lean-to. Close by is an outdoor privy, said to be the finest outhouse in the Catskills. Also ADA compliant!
Not long after the lean-to the blue trail ends. This terminus also marks the end of ADA compliance.
The red-blazed Eignor Trail heads downhill, winding south and east over uneven terrain that was, again, heavily farmed. Lots more history on display all along this trail.
Early along this trail section is a small meadow which I’ve heard blooms beautifully in spring and summer.
A little farther along, when the leaves are off the trees, to the southwest you can see the ski slopes of Belle Ayre.
This section of trail is especially fun for trail runners. It undulates and winds, is never boring, and you can look down the very steep slopes into the hollow below.
After 1.35 miles you once again reconnect with the blue-blazed Colonel Rochester Trail. Turn right.
Very quickly, you come to the Burroughs Memorial on the left side of the trail.
I can’t wait to get back to this trail in the spring, when the wildflowers and ferns come in along the banks of the stream. There’s ample shade in the hot months, too. The entire hollow must be spectacular in the fall when the leaves are changing.
Close by is Phoenicia which has several solid restaurants. I stopped into Brio’s on my way home for a slice of well-earned pizza.
For whom is this hollow named? Hoo-boy. Strap in. Nathaniel Rochester was the man who founded and developed the settlement of Rochester, NY. A man very much of his time: a wealthy capitalist, a prominent military leader, a savvy political operative, a land speculator, and not just a slave owner but a successful slave trader. This excellent article breaks down his slave profiteering in fine detail. Owning and selling human beings was an extremely sophisticated operation. The details are shocking in their specificity and widely-accepted mundanity. The river of capital that runs through (and largely defines) American history finds much of its source in people like Colonel Rochester.
These trails may yet make it onto the list of beautiful hikes — in spring, summer and fall I think this hollow is a definite contender. It’s also a great hike if you don’t want at lot of elevation, and the main blue trail is ADA compliant — so I’ve added it to my growing list of easy Catskills hikes.
If you do this hike, let me know how it goes in the comments below…
Trailhead Info for this Hike
Description: Large lot, rarely busy. Make sure your phone’s directions take you to the correct location — about 1 mile west of Big Indian.
Address: 18-36 Matyas Rd, Big Indian, NY 12410
Due to the nature of rural addresses, this address is an approximation; it’s the “close enough address” I use to get driving directions from my phone. Click to launch Google Maps in a new window/tab.
Location: The map below shows the exact topographic location of the trailhead.
Scraps of service at the trailhead. Zero service once you enter the hollow. (My network is Verizon. YMMV.)