Mountain Top Historical Society 2021 Hikes / Walks / Events



Hikes/Walks are limited to 12 guests--Please follow instructions below to pre-register for all events.

Before setting out on your adventure, assess your fitness and skill level. Don't overestimate your abilities; match the trail with your abilities and the experience you are looking for to ensure you have a safe, enjoyable visit.  For information about parking as well as hiking and outdoor advice from the DEC click here.  

May 16 (Sun.) 1:00 p.m.  Hike – Mountain Top Arboretum. See Spring Unfolding in the Mountains. Explore the hiking trails at the Mountain Top Arboretum and the Deer Mountain Inn with Nancy Allen. Listen for the sound of peepers and observe the blossoming of spring ephemerals. Round trip about 4 miles. Easy trails with some steeper inclines. Meet Nancy at the Arboretum parking area at 1 p.m. come prepared for muddy conditions (boots that keep the feet dry) and with bug spray. Bring water and snacks. Well-behaved dogs on leash welcome. The exact route will be determined by the conditions on the day of the hike. Hard rain cancels.

June 5 (Sat.) 10 a.m. Hike – National Trails Day on the Kaaterskill Rail Trail led by Michelle Yost and Pete Sentermen. Pete will discuss the history of the railroads at the Mountain Top, and Michelle will transition into the modern day trail and its future. The KRT was first a footpath connecting the Catskill Mountain House and other hotels to Haines Falls. By the 1880’s the old footpath had made way for a rail corridor which, at its peak, saw two competing passenger rail lines following parallel tracks toward the Catskill escarpment. Thousands of vacationers arrived each summer via the newly- constructed rail lines to see the picturesque scenery and stay at the many boarding houses, hotels, and resorts such as the Laurel House. Hike will extend to the viewing platform over Kaaterskill Falls. Easy, 3 ½ miles, wear sturdy shoes and bring water. Meet at U&D Train Station at 10 am.

July 10 (Sat.) 10 a.m. Annual Meeting. Please join us for the Annual Meeting of the MTHS at which directors will be elected and updates on the work of the Society will be presented. Location to be determined, possibly at the U & D Train Station, or in the Visitors' Center Conference Room with access via Zoom. 

July 17 (Sat.) 10:00 a.m. – 3 p.m.  *FULL* Hike- “In the Footsteps of Sanford Robinson Gifford”.   Join geologist Robert Titus for a journey back into the Ice Age, whose landscapes were the subjects of the artists of the Hudson River School. This hike will locate spots along the Blue Trail where Sanford Robinson Gifford sketched, and we’ll examine evidence of glacial activity at each location. Moderate, four miles. Bring water and lunch. Return by 3 p.m. Meet at Laurel House Road parking lot. Registration instructions below. Dogs welcome if owners comply with Park rules.
Please note that our July 17th hike with Robert Titus "In the Footsteps of Sanford Robinson Gifford" is full. The good news is that Robert will be leading the hike again in October during our annual Hike Fest.

August 4 (Wednesday) 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. U&D Train Station on MTHS Campus, Route 23A Haines Falls, NY “Wednesday Workshop: Local Railroad History”. An informal workshop with Bob Gildersleeve. To register email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or cal(518) 589-6657. Postponed -- Date to be announced.

Because of the new Covid restrictions we will require masks for all participants whether vaccinated or not. We plan to have windows in the station opened and therefore recommend that everyone bring a fleece in case the evening is cool. WE WILL HAVE TO LIMIT ATTENDANCE SO YOU MUST REGISTER.

  • We’ll tour the 1913 U&D train station that is now owned by the Mountain Top Historical Society, see what was done to return it from its modified and deteriorating condition as a private home back to its original state as the premier station on the Kaaterskill Branch of the U&D.
  •  We’ll discuss the history of the two Ulster and Delaware stations in Haines Fall as well as the competing Catskill and Tannersville station.
  •  We’ll also check out timetables and get a glimpse of the boxes of countless business records from the station that have recently been donated to the society and other memorabilia.
  • We’ll discuss the option of becoming a docent at the station.

 If you are interested in the stations at what the railroad companies like to call Haines Corners, if you're interested in the rail lines in general we hope you will join us.

August 21 (Sat.) 6pm Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman" Speech Performed by Rev. Deb Zuill with introduction by Dr. Kimberly Johnson. This event will be held outdoors under a tent at the historic U&D Railroad Station. Refreshments will be served. $5 suggested donation. This program is supported by a grant from The Bank of Greene County.

Sept. 18   (Sat.) 10:00 a.m. – 12 noon. Talk and Walk – The Mountain Top Arboretum and the Mountain Top Historical Society present a two-day event with Dr. Michael Kudish, expert in forest history. Dr. Kudish will discuss “Burn Index: A New Way of Looking at the Catskill Land Use History”. The program will begin with a lecture at the Arboretum’s Education Center, followed by a walk into Spruce Glen as an example of non-burn forest composition. One mile, easy. See below for continuation of program. Suggested Donation Free for MTA and MTHS members, $ 10 for non-members.

Sept. 19 (Sun.) 9:00 a.m.  Hike – Dr. Michael Kudish will lead a hike on the escarpment trail at North/South Lake to a Pitch Pine stand as an example of burned forest composition. Meet at Mountain Top Historical Society’s parking area. ~ 1 mile, moderate – some elevation change. Bring water and snack. No Dogs.

Sept. 25 (Sat.) 10:00 a.m. Hike - Ceremonial Stone Landscapes (CSL).

Join NYS DEC outdoor guide Glenn Kreisberg from Overlook Mountain Center in Woodstock, NY, for a hike to visit a Manitou Hassennech (spirit stones) site in Spruceton Valley. These landscapes consist of dry stacked stone cairns, stone rows, effigies and alignments, all possible expressions of an ancient Native American belief system linking the world above with the world below. Moderate, two miles. Bring lunch or a snack and water. **Meet at trailhead at 10am,  located at the very end of Spruceton Rd. In Google Maps, you can enter "Westkill Trailhead Parking." The approximate address is 2679 Spruceton Rd, West Kill, NY 12492. Spruceton Rd. is also Rt. 6 in West Kill, which you turn onto from Rt. 42. Go to the end of the road and you will see a trailhead.

Sept. 25 (Sat.) 10:00 a.m. - 3 p.m. 9th Annual Postcard Show & Talk – at the U&D Train Station. MTHS campus. Food will be available. The MTHS will also be selling ephemera from its attic in a special sale. A $3 entry fee will be charged at the door. 


Oct. 2 (Saturday 1pm) Camp Jened Marker Unveiling A marker to commemorate Camp Jened, a summer camp

for people with disabilities in Hunter that operated until 1977, will be unveiled. A key group of people from the camp went on to become pivotal activists in the national disability rights movement as documented in the 2020 Academy Awards nominated documentary "Crip Camp." Their efforts, along with many other activists, eventually led to the passage of the ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. 300 Ski Bowl Road in Hunter. 


The Mountain Top Historical society presents Hikefest 2021 from Friday Oct. 8 to Saturday Oct. 9. Hikefest begins Friday night with a Zoom presentation on the history of the Hotel Kaaterskill by Robert Gildersleeve. Saturday there are two hike options: one to the grounds of the former Hotel Kaaterskill and the other to sites along the Kaaterskill escarpment trail that inspired the art of Sanford Robinson Gifford, a member of the Hudson River School of Painting. See below for more details. Register by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or calling 518-589-6657. 

Oct. 8 (Friday) Hotel Kaaterskill Grounds History Zoom Presentation, 6:20 – 7:15pm. To prepare for our exploration of the Hotel Kaaterskill Grounds on the hike scheduled for October 9, Robert Gildersleeve will host a Zoom meeting to discuss the history of the Hotel. To receive the link to participate in the meeting, you must register by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   We recommend that you log in to the meeting at 6:20 so that we can admit you and be ready to start at 6:30.

Oct. 9 (Sat)

Hike One: Hotel Kaaterskill Grounds, 9am-3pm. Led by Paul LaPierre, Pete Senterman, and Bob Gildersleeve – The Hotel Kaaterskill, said at the time to be the largest mountain hotel in the world, was started as a result of the legendary “Chicken War” between Philadelphia lawyer George Harding and Charles L. Beach, the owner of the Catskill Mountain House. Since then it has sparked our interest and the interest of our members and friends. About two years ago, Scott Koster discovered a survey document from 1883 in the collection of the Free Library of Philadelphia. The survey has provided so much additional information that we decided to revisit the site. Meet at the Historical Society’s U&D train station on the MTHS campus in Haines Falls at 9:00 a.m. We will then carpool to North-South Lake State Park (entrance fee per car or free with Empire Pass) to begin our walk to the Hotel Kaaterskill site. This is a moderate hike of about 4 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 400 feet. Planned return at 3:00 pm. Bring a lunch and water. Sturdy shoes and long pants are recommended. More details see this description. 

Hike Two: "In the Footsteps of Sanford Robinson Gifford" 9 am – 2 p.m. Join geologist Robert Titus for a journey back into the Ice Age, whose landscapes were the subjects of the artists of the Hudson River School. This hike will locate spots along the Blue Trail where Sanford Robinson Gifford sketched and we'll examine evidence of glacial activity at each location. Moderate, four miles. Bring water and lunch. Return by 3 p.m. Meet at Laurel House Road parking lot at 9am. Dogs welcome if owners comply with Park rules.

Oct. 10 (Sun) 2pm – The 2nd Annual Community Reading of Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle Join Community members of the Mountain Top for a live reading of Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle. Get to know the "true" story behind sleepy Rip, his dog Wolf and the mysterious ninepin bowling Dutchmen. READERS WANTED! Sign up to be a reader by e-mailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or call 518-589-6657. Cider and cider donuts will be sold by donation to benefit the Mountain Top Historical Society

MTHS does not require membership for hike participation however, we encourage you to join as a member or make a donation to the MTHS to support our programs. We do request that you register for each hike or program as indicated. 

Instructions for registration

Participants can register on the contacts page of our website or by calling (518) 589-6657. Please leave your name, phone number, # in your party, and day of hike or program. Schedule subject to change. The latest information is available on our web site Notification of changes, including cancellations due to weather will be made on the web site up to the day of any given hike.