June 12, 2022 – Pawling, NY
Size: Roughly 2.3 miles
Max elevation: 1171 ft. – complete elevation acquire roughly 683 ft.
Route kind: Out-and-back
Free Avenza App Map: Appalachian Trail – Dutchess & Putnam Counties, NY
Trailhead parking: West Dover Road, Pawling, NY 12564
No bathrooms on website – No entrance or parking charges
Pull-off parking on shoulder for about 10-12 vehicles
Cat Rocks is an jap dealing with rock outcrop on West Mountain in Pawling, NY about 1,171 toes above sea degree. It gives a birds’ eye view of the Harlem Valley, Litchfield County, Connecticut and past.
The Harlem Valley includes the cities and hamlets of Pawling, Wingdale, Dover Plains, Wassaic, Millerton, Millbrook, and Beekman. The valley is a part of the two,190-mile-long Appalachian Mountain panorama generally known as the Wild East. Solely an hour practice trip from New York Metropolis, guests can discover 16 miles of the A.T. by means of Dover and Pawling, with hikes ranging in skill from straightforward rolling terrain to rock scrambles.
Dover and Pawling had been designated as an A.T. Neighborhood in 2013, recognized collectively because the Harlem Valley A.T. Neighborhood (HVATC).
In 1921, Forester, conservationist and regional planner Benton MacKaye proposed a mountain climbing path from Georgia to Maine, primarily by means of the Appalachian and Berkshire mountains, envisioning the Path as a utopian refuge from city life. Lower than two years later, work started on the nice path, with the primary accomplished part being the stretch from Bear Mountain to its present-day crossing with I-87. It was totally completed in 1937, and although it’s been tweaked within the a long time since, it’s primarily the identical trek that was envisioned by MacKaye himself.
What started as a imaginative and prescient of Benton MacKaye, was developed by volunteers, and opened as a steady path in 1937. It was designated as the primary Nationwide Scenic Path by the Nationwide Trails System Act of 1968. The Path is at present protected alongside greater than 99 p.c of its course by federal or state possession of the land or by rights-of-way. Yearly, greater than 4,000 volunteers contribute greater than 185,000 hours of effort on the Appalachian Path.
Spanning 14 states, from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine, the two,190 mile-plus mountain climbing path is the longest hiking-only path on the planet. Greater than three million folks hike segments of the path every year.
All through its complete size, the AT is marked by white paint blazes which are 2 by 6 inches. Aspect trails to shelters, viewpoints and parking areas use equally formed blue blazes. The Appalachian Path “AT” Brand is the “A” with the dropdown “T.”
The path is effectively marked on this part with many recent white blazes. A short rock scramble close to the start might be bypassed by way of an unmarked footpath to the left, on the base of the steep part.
There’s a quick part close to West Dover Street that may be a little overgrown. Close to Cat Rocks, the place the path ranges off, the underbrush overlaps the slender footpath. Lengthy pants or some sort of tick repellant is advisable.
Cat Rocks in Pawling, the topic of this hike, is to not be confused with Cat Rocks in Warwick, NY. They’re each on the Appalachian Path in NY, however in several cities and counties.
With threats of thunder storms within the forecast, I used to be on the lookout for a shorter hike than beforehand deliberate. The hike to Cat Rocks match the invoice completely. There may be pull-off parking alongside the shoulder of West Dover Street (County Route 20), proper by the Dover Oak.
Please observe: The Appalachian Path crosses West Dover Street proper the place the Dover Oak is, however the hike begins on the alternative facet of the highway from the large oak tree.
On the day of this hike, we solely encountered a handful of individuals, together with two thru-hikers. It was very quiet alongside the path with solely the sound of birds and the occasional roar of a Harley rolling by on West Dover Street.
This hike is an easy out and again with a cease on the Phone Pioneers Shelter on the way in which down.
The vast majority of the elevation acquire is within the first mile on the way in which to Cat Rocks.
The Appalachian Path crosses the highway proper on the Dover Oak. This white oak, estimated to be about 300 years previous, has a circumference of over 20 toes, and is believed to be the biggest blazed tree alongside all the AT from Maine to Georgia.
On the opposite facet of the highway from the Dover Oak, the path descends to cross a moist space on rocks and puncheons. A brief distance past, the path climbs a jagged rock formation and begins its regular ascent of West Mountain, crossing a stream on a picket bridge alongside the way in which.
After climbing for about half a mile, you’ll come to a junction on the left, the place a blue-blazed facet path results in the Phone Pioneers Shelter. Bear proper on the intersection and proceed following the white blazes of the AT.
The AT climbs some extra, turning left at an attention-grabbing wanting mass of rock. A brief distance later, the path approaches the grass-covered summit ridge of West Mountain. Just under the summit, a facet path on the fitting leads a brief distance to Cat Rocks – a panoramic east-facing viewpoint from an open rock outcrop. Down under, you’ll be able to see West Dover Street, with fields past.
Please train warning on this slanted rock outcrop, particularly if the bottom is moist. In Could 2021 a hiker fell greater than 50 toes from this location and needed to be rescued by the Pawling Hearth Division in what was described as “one of many hardest rescues anybody in our firehouse has ever accomplished.”
When you’re accomplished having fun with the view, retrace your steps again as much as the Appalachian Path and switch left, retracing your steps down West Mountain. Once you attain the junction the place the facet path results in the Phone Pioneers Shelter, bear proper and observe the blue-blazed path, which crosses a stream on rocks and leads in 500 toes to the shelter, constructed by the White Plains Council of the Phone Pioneers of America in 1988. The picnic desk in entrance of the shelter is a good spot to eat lunch or simply take a break.
The supplies to construct this shelter was helicoptered in, by way of an enormous Connecticut Military/Air Nationwide Guard Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane. The Pioneers took care of a whole lot of the advance work, however many native volunteers assisted the Pioneers on this huge 1988 enterprise, together with the Pawling Boy Scout troop and Dutchess AT volunteers.
The overall supplies price for the undertaking (largely donated) was about $4,000. The wooden was not reduce prematurely, all of the notching work was accomplished proper on the positioning.
AT Information: “In-built 1988, with help from the White Plains Council of the Phone Pioneers of America…0.1 mile from A.T. on facet path; accommodates 6; water from stream crossed by facet path to shelter; privy 200 toes from shelter on facet path.”
Once you’re able to proceed, retrace your steps again to the A.T. and bear proper on the junction and proceed descending West Mountain on the Appalachian Path. Simply earlier than reaching the rock scramble, flip proper on the unmarked bypass path (except you wish to scramble down) and observe the footpath because it runs parallel to the towering rock formation that you just scrambled over earlier.
Flip proper on the unmarked bypass path which descends steeply across the base of the rock formation. On the base of the descent, the unmarked footpath climbs to a T-intersection with the Appalachian Path. Flip proper and observe the white blazes again to West Dover Street, the place the hike started.
A brief however candy hike on the Appalachian Path. The far reaching views are excellent and an effective way to spend just a few hours open air. The preliminary climb will get your coronary heart pumping, however the reward is price each step. That is a kind of should do hikes within the space. I extremely advocate it. The hike may very well be made longer by persevering with on the AT previous Cat Rocks or through the use of a unique place to begin.
Appalachian Path, effectively marked and maintained path, lesser foot visitors than different locations with nice views, scenic panorama, Dover Oak.
Some highway noise might be heard.
Take a hike!