I was very excited about Wittenberg, one of my favorite websites HikeTheHudsonValley.com called it the best view in the Catskills but a difficult, difficult climb. Wittenberg sits at 3780′ and Cornell sits at 3860′. This is not a simple jaunt that also included the infamous Cornell Crack
I started this hike the day after my son’s 14th birthday party which went a bit late, so I was on very little sleep. The ride to the hike took me alongside Esopus Creek with very picturesque view of the Catskills on my left hand side as I drove.
Arriving at the place, there was a $6 fee for parking but no one in the area to actually charge the money. If you go in the future, drive up a little further to the office for the park about another quarter mile further up the road. I wound up paying after the hike, please don’t just park and leave.
The hike started with force and will behind it, as soon as you cut through some of the camping sites you find yourself with a nice wooden bridge crossing this stream:
Towards the end of the hike, the bridge over this stream would be the thing I long to see the most. The hike really threw a curve at you in its unabating intensity and difficulty .
As you climb, which is intensive and brutal. I remembered something Hike the Hudson Valley said referencing to his wife “She enjoys a good casual day hike, but the word “casual” should never be applied to a climb of Wittenberg, unless you’re discussing the dress code. (And even then, it should probably be something more like “casual synthetic chic” or “wilderness casual.”)”
One of the things I enjoying the most about the Catskills though are the rock formations similar to the Cornell Crack that pop up here and there along the hike. Where you simply have to take a step back and ponder how best to tackle them. As you arrive to the top of Wittenberg you get a sense that something big is coming. Right along the 2500-2700′ mark you start seeing spots of a view on your left as you ascend. As you get to the illustrious over 3500′ marker this trail becomes very anti Catskills. Of all the hikes I have done so far in the Catskills the top of the mountain is usually very wooded, and the only way to know you are reaching the top is your GPS. This hike was different, as you reach the top you see faint traces of a clearing and the actual summit hits you hard.
Look at this, this is the most beautiful view I have seen in the Catskills to date and I hope many more like it.
I truly did not want to leave this place. It was one of the most serene places I have been in a while. There was a small group there with me, luckily they were almost done and after a bit, I had this piece of heaven on earth all to myself. I layed down on the ledge and just contemplated it all…
Alas, Cornell Mountain awaited a bit further down. Just FYI, the best part about continuing to Cornell is the crack. Once you arrive it will take a few minutes just to orient yourself. Above I posted a picture from the bottom of the crack. The amazement of it all, is that once you climb it, you question how the hell will I get down. Let’s not overthink that though, I obviously made it since I am typing these words.
The top of Cornell was lacking, but only because Wittenberg was so majestic.
As a headed back down, there was another view of the Shokan Reservoir through a set of trees.
On the way back, the Cornell Crack stumped me yet again, but I was able to descend it without falling to my eventual death.
Regardless., if you need to do any of the Catskill Hikes, this should be at the top of your list!!! It was a great workout and the view was just amazing.