Catskill Hikes: Mountain Top Arboretum

There’s something simply magical about the elements at work on the Mountain Top Arboretum in Tannersville [Intersection of County Road 23C & Maude Adams Rd, Tannersville, NY 12485]. Only minutes from the main drag in the kitschy town, head on up the hill, and after you pass by some beyond gorgeous homes you will find yourself in a world of its own. The arboretum is bisected by a quiet dirt road; it leads to the parking area, some sleepy private cabins, and trails further down the way. To begin we strolled in the woodland walk section which was maybe quarter of a mile. This healthy land was speckled with some of the most whopping wildflowers I have ever seen! Among them were stunning white trilliums and happy trout lilies.

IMG_5079 IMG_5081If you meander around the woodlands walk it won’t be long until you reach the enchanting fairy village, watch where you walk!

IMG_5082 IMG_5083Across the road is the west meadow, a great open space with an artistic twist. You are greeted by a small pond inhabited by a pair of geese, frogs, and fish. I loved the singular painting which stood in the field, depicting playful ferns and leaves.

IMG_5087Walk a while longer and you may sit in a wooden gazebo, or slow yourself down and take a walk around a spiral labyrinth.

IMG_5089After you are finished taking in the scenery,

IMG_5090walk on down the road to the east meadow. Here you’ll find a mixture of lightly wooded trails filled with pines and ferns, and a boardwalk through some wetlands. The trails in this section total up to perhaps a half mile if you take them all. We heard and then saw lots of blue jays here. Continue to the end of the dirt road and you will find yourself at the entrance of the black spruce glen trail. Just before heading in I thought aloud that the road couldn’t be any lovelier, and then a white tail deer pranced across our path.

IMG_5095We followed for a short time, and she was just as curious as we were, until she was gone. This is where the most extensive hiking of the arboretum can be found; I would estimate the mileage to be less than two miles of trails. You will enter into a dense forest and opt to head left or right on the green loop. It was refreshing to get into the woods, out of the sun, and feel our legs work with the topography. We heard the hoots of owls in the distance, and pondered at interesting tracks in the mud. There is a quiet stream which fed into the hidden marsh. Out of the forest peaks a short boardwalk and suddenly you are plunged into daylight.

IMG_5097A walk to the end gives you a perfect panorama of the marsh. At first it is silent. Wait a few minutes and life will resume around you, songs of birds and chirps of frogs will fill the air. We watched a particular frog who was not moved by our presence.

IMG_5100It seemed to be guarding a slew of eggs, some which had formed into tiny wriggling tadpoles by this time.

IMG_5104After our observations were complete we headed back on the opposite trail to complete the loop. We saw garter snake coil under a cool rock, and happily headed back down the dirt road.

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