Easy hikin’ on both counts.
Hiking Trail Description
Personal opinion: these are the only two boring Catskill 3500 hikes. Vly has a few small ledges to keep things interesting, barely, but I swear the trailed route up Bearpen has almost nothing to recommend it. Luckily, you can bag both of these hills together on a single, easy out-and-back. Vly also offers the opportunity to do a very easy first bushwhack — more like a guided bushwhack.
There is no parking lot for this hike. Park carefully just before the slow plow turn-around on County Route 3, as far from the house as possible.
The mile up to the hunters’ cabin is an unmaintained section of the same road.
Just before the cabin, turn right (east) and begin following the blue paint patches, keeping them to your right whenever possible to stay on state land.
This route is a bushwhack in name only. The herd path is mostly very clear.
The views, to overstate the case, are modest.
The canister is on the western side of the summit and is easy to find; once you hit the flats, you come upon it more or less right away.
The true summit (marked with a geodetic survey marker) is a good 200-250 meters further east.
In April, the spring growth had only just begun. Moving around up there was relatively easy. Later in the growing season, I imagine pushing through the grown-in brambles and bushes might be more difficult.
I did this hike with my daughter who was 13 at the time. These were her first Catskill mountains. Despite rating the mountain “very boring” she did enjoy navigating Vly’s humble ledges.
The descent to the col is uneventful. We lost the herd path once or twice, but it was easy to find again.
Instead of turning left to follow the snowmobile trail, we did the bushwhack route straight up the ridge line. It was boring.
Oh, we found some coyote poop on the way up. That was cool. (Probably not the best sell for a mountain, if the best part of hiking it is finding a pile of dry, gray poop.)
The summit of Bearpen is a wonderland of boring trees.
On the NYNJTC maps, there’s a Scenic View marked north-west of the summit. The view here is okay. There are, however, some very solid glacial striations right there.
I prefer the very bucolic view from the old ski slope just before the summit.
From the top of the ski slope, you can also see the Schoharie Reservoir and the Blenheim Gilboa hydro-electric reservoir on Brown Mountain.
I hear Borepen is very nice to bushwhack for a week or two in the spring when its flowers are in bloom.
Even taken together, this hike is one of the easiest Catskill 3500 hikes. It is not one of the scenic Catskills hikes and is definitely not one of the best Catskills hikes. However, it is a kid-friendly hike — if your kids love being bored.
If you do this hike, let me know how it goes in the comments below…
Trailhead Info for this Hike
Description: No lot. Do not park in plow turn-around. Do not park near houses. Park on road, between the last house and the turn-around.
Address: County Road 3, Halcott Center, NY 12430
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.