We took a 3ish hour drive up into the Catskills this weekend to get a quick day-hike in. We knew that this was probably our last weekend before it would be too cold to hike, so we absolutely had to take advantage of that.
I looked up a bunch of trails in the Catskills and finally landed on the Giant Ledge trail (skipping out on the optional Panther Mountain extension to save time/daylight). I found its page on Catskillmountaineer.com, and it sounded like a great, short hike that was dog-friendly. The author made me slightly worried that this hike would be just as crowded as Bear Mountain was for us this past summer, so I mentally prepared myself for that during the drive up.
Distance: 3.2 miles
Time: around 2 hours
Elevation: 3170ft above sea level
Highlights: Short hike with several ledges that have incredible views.
Dog friendliness: Easy ascent for relatively athletic, larger breeds.
We got a semi-late start, which was unfortunate. We had originally planned to hike the whole trail (all the way up Panther Mountain), but because we didn't get to the trailhead until around 1, we decided to do the shorter trail which, from what I read online, sounds like it has equally as good of views. Because it gets dark so early now, we didn't want to be stuck on the mountain with no visibility.
This was Morton's first experience with snow, and he absolutely loved it. I had expected him to be a little prissy about it, because he turns his nose up to wet grass sometimes, but he seemed to be at home in the snow. He was just having a jolly time, hopping along up the rocks almost effortlessly.
When we got to the trailhead, we were pleasantly surprised that it wasn't crowded at all. This is probably because of the fact that it was pretty cold and icy. But we were totally okay with that.
This was a pretty steep hike. There were definitely multiple instances where I needed to use my hands to get up a larger rock. Because of the snow and ice, the rocks were pretty slick, and we were extra careful not to slip. The snow was so fresh, fluffy, and beautiful. It was very winter wonderlandy.
I especially enjoyed the alpines covered in snow that resembled Christmas trees. I know, it's too early to be thinking Christmas, but I just can't help myself.
The trail was very well marked, as I assume there is a lot of foot traffic in the warmer months. We passed a handful of other hikers and 3 or so other dogs. Everyone was friendly. I like hiking culture people. They seem so down-to-earth, calm, and kind.
Morton was such a champ. I was really impressed with him. He was really good about waiting for me to guide him where to go, especially on the descent. I don't know if he knew that the rocks were slick and he needed to take his time, but it seemed like he did. I had to help him down at a couple spots. He probably could have jumped down on his own, but it made me feel better to help him.
Even Morton had a hard time pulling his eyes away from the view from one of the ledges. We stood on this ledge for a short while and just took it all in. This is why we hike. For moments and views like this where you truly get to bask in the grandeur that is creation. This world is a beautiful place.