Catfish Loop Trail – Fahnestock State Park

April 22, 2017 – Carmel, NY

Difficulty: moderate

Length: approximately 5.3 miles

Max elevation: 1,002 ft.– total elevation gain: 586 ft.

Route type: circuit

Map: East Hudson Trails Map (more detailed) – Free maps also available at kiosks

Trailhead parking: 294 Dennytown Rd Putnam Valley, NY 10579

 

Clarence Fahnestock Memorial State Park is a 14,337-acre state park located in Putnam and Dutchess counties, New York. Most of the park is situated in northern Putnam County between the Taconic State Parkway and U.S. Route 9. It is in an historic iron-mining region, and several remnants of that industry remain in mine excavations, stone foundations and the old railbeds used by some of the trails.

The Catfish Loop marked with red blazes, is a 4.9 miles long trail which loops around the southwest corner of Fahnestock State Park.  It passes through a wide variety of terrain and is a good introductory hike if you’ve never explored the park before. It is also a good rigorous ramble for the novice hiker, needing only to follow the same color blaze for the entirety of the hike. The trail passes through a less traveled section of Fahnestock which provides some tranquility for those looking to escape the crowds on some of the more popular trails in the area.

Catfish Loop Trail

Catfish Loop Trail

The weather for this Saturday morning was supposed to be cloudy, but a light rain fell throughout most of the hike. The temperature was in the low 50’s with 6 mph winds. When we arrived at the parking area at about 9:30 am there were quite a few cars there already. A group of Boy Scouts appeared to be gearing up for some camping and a group from the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) was about to hit the trails. I asked the leader of the ADK which trails they were hiking and was informed that they would be embarking on the blue-blazed trail and returning on the AT. I was glad to hear that as I did not want a large group on our heels as we hiked.

We began our hike by crossing the road and entering the trail by the sign for the Catfish Loop Trail. The Appalachian Trail crosses the road and enters the woods here.

Catfish Loop Trail

Catfish Loop Trail

In a short distance we arrived at a junction with the red-blazed Catfish Loop Trail. The trail goes left and right, but we turned left and followed the trail clockwise. While hiking the first part of the trail I mentioned that is was so well blazed to the point of there being too many blazes close together. Jokingly I said that by the end of the hike, the trail won’t have any red-blazes because the overzealous trail keeper ran out of red discs.

Catfish Loop Trail

Catfish Loop Trail

The trail passes through a stone wall, of which there are many on this hike. An indication that this area was once used for farming.

stone wall

stone wall

Passing by remnants of more stone walls, the trail parallels Dennytown Road.

stone walls

stone walls

Immediately I noticed that this trail was quite picturesque as we walked through the woods. Never having been here before I was satisfied thus far at picking this hike.

Catfish Loop Trail

Catfish Loop Trail

In about a quarter mile, the trail turns right and crosses a stream, the first of many on this trail.

stream crossing

stream crossing

After crossing a second stream, the trail now begins to climb.

second stream crossing then climb

second stream crossing then climb

After climbing, the trail levels off then descends to cross another stream.

trail descends to cross another stream

trail descends to cross another stream

After crossing this stream the trail markers are difficult to see, but looking straight up the hill, they become visible once again. For a minute I thought my comment of running out of red discs was coming to fruition. After climbing to the highest point on this section of the ridge, it continues on to a fairly level tract.

fairly level tract

fairly level tract

The red-blazed Catfish Loop Trail crosses the white-blazed Appalachian Trail. There is a cairn marking the intersection.

Catfish Loop Trail crosses the AT

Catfish Loop Trail crosses the AT

Continuing on the red-blazed trail it soon begins a steady descent crossing a woods road marked with yellow blazes, indicating a horse trail.

Catfish Loop Trail crosses a woods road marked with yellow blazes

Catfish Loop Trail crosses a woods road marked with yellow blazes

Crossing yet another stream on rocks, the most enjoyable aspect of the hike, the trail climbs again and passes between some large boulders.

Catfish Loop Trail passes between large boulders

Catfish Loop Trail passes between large boulders

From the top of the boulders, there is a west-facing view, with Crows Nest and Storm King Mountains visible on the west side of the Hudson River. It was still raining and the visibility wasn’t ideal, but it’s the only real view on this hike. I had envisioned sitting on this boulder and having a snack while enjoying the view, but the song “Fool in the Rain” by Led Zeppelin was playing in my head, so “I’ll run in the rain till I’m breathless.”

only real view on this hike

only real view on this hike

We were now 2 miles into the hike and hadn’t really taken a break. Since it was raining, I would rather keep moving than stand still and get wet, there goes that song again! We passed through probably the most scenic section of the trail while a light rain fell steadily enough to get us drenched and keep my camera tucked away.

Catfish Loop Trail

Catfish Loop Trail

We crossed another stream on rocks. I lost count of how many streams we crossed on this trail. None were difficult (I carry spare socks just in case) and they made the hike more interesting.

stream crossing

stream crossing

This stream had a nice little cascade right where we crossed.

cascade

cascade

We then passed through an area that had a large number of stone walls. These stone walls are a little different that what I am used to seeing. These walls are covered with lichen and have a palish appearance.

stone walls

stone walls

Hard to imagine that along this rugged area, many made their living farming the land.

Catfish Loop Trail

Catfish Loop Trail

As we proceeded on the Catfish Loop Trail it was now lined with moss.

Catfish Loop Trail

Catfish Loop Trail

The moss lined trail really accentuates how attractive these woods are.

Catfish Loop Trail

Catfish Loop Trail

The peacefulness of the woods was a welcome respite from everyday life, despite being waterlogged from the rain. At least my feet stayed dry as we made another stream crossing.

stream crossing

stream crossing

We passed through a wet area that was teeming with green, a sign that Spring is indeed here.

wet area

wet area

Of course there is another stream crossing, this one the most attractive of the bunch.

stream crossing

stream crossing

A couple of times during the hike, the trail skirts the park boundary which is posted with signs. We stayed on the trail, respecting private property.

park boundary

park boundary

As we continued along the trail the rain drops ceased for a bit and I began to dry out. The overzealous trail keeper must have run out of the shiny new red discs because the second half of the hike was marked with old and faded blazes and weren’t as frequent, but the trail is still easy to follow. There are some blue and green blazes painted on some trees, but we just disregarded them and kept following red.

Catfish Loop Trail

Catfish Loop Trail

This trail goes by numerous interesting rock formations and glacial erratics.

glacial erratic

glacial erratic

The Catfish Loop Trail goes over another stone wall as we arrive at the end of the loop.

end of the loop

end of the loop

We turned left onto the white-blazed Appalachian Trail and walked back up the hill, crossing Dennytown Road to the parking area, where our hike began.

end of loop

end of loop

Upon arriving at the parking area in the morning, we noticed the ruins of a stone building just off the road. We decided to take a look at it after completing the hike. The back of the East Hudson Trails map states that this stone building was built in the 1920’s or 1930’s by an amateur stone mason.

stone ruins

stone ruins

It also says that although it may be mistaken for a chapel, it served as a chicken coop.

stone ruins

stone ruins

This had to be the most extravagant chicken coop in history.

stone ruins

stone ruins

Exploring this glorified chicken coop was a nice way to end the hike.

stone ruins

stone ruins

Speaking of chicken, it was time to take off and find a spot to light the grill.

stone ruins

stone ruins

This hike turned out to be much better than I expected. The trail was scenic throughout and the solitude was ideal. We only saw a young couple with an unleashed dog going in the opposite direction. Even though the dog growled at me, it was a good day on the trail. I hope that you enjoyed the hike and please don’t forget to follow my blog. Until next time folks, now get out there and take a hike!

Pros: Well blazed trails, varied terrain, lots of rock hopping over streams, scenic woods throughout, very secluded, old stone walls, rock formations, glacial erratics.

Cons: Not many views, last part of the hike is uphill.

Take a hike!

Take a hike!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Catfish Loop Trail – Fahnestock State Park

  1. Great pictures! My girlfriend and I did a quick loop in Fahnestock yesterday. We took the Charcoal Burners Trail to the Perkins Trail, to the Cabot Trail back to the Charcoal Burners trail. It was a short 2.15 mile hike, but we had our Yellow Lab with us and didn’t want to tire him out. We love it back there, it’s so beautiful. Even with the perfect weather, we only came across 2 other hikers on our trip. It was a nice change from the overcrowded trails in The Hudson Highlands on the weekends.

    Thank you for sharing your hikes with us, I love seeing the updates arrive in my inbox!

    Like

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