Platte-Clove 10/19/13

Buttermilk Falls, Cortina, Devil's Kitchen, Haines Falls, Hawkeye, Huckleberry Point, Johnson's Point, Kaaterskill High Peak, Poet's Ledge, Round Top, Viola Falls, Wildcat Falls

Platte-Clove 10/19/13

New postby Jon » Sun Oct 20, 2013 8:50 am

My friend from saugerties had his birthday and wanted to go up the Platte-clove from the bottom. He told me how there were not many good descriptions of this hike online, and probably the reason is that there is private land on the bottom of the platte-kill creek. However after the first 1/2 mile or so there are DEC signs, and you can enter the Indian Head wilderness there.

So my friend has permission from relatives who live at the base of the creek to park by their house. I realize there are many illegal ways to start this hike, but we made sure we stayed legit. If you don't know someone who lives there locally, you might have quite a roadwalk to platte-clove road to get up to the spot where you can enter the clove legally.

Here is a map. My GPS was VERY sketchy in the clove, with such a small horizon it was constantly putting dots on the wrong side of the canyon and moving while we were standing still. Also my batteries died at the base of evergreen falls and I didn't turn it back on until we were above them. Also note that the names I use for these falls are not accurate, it's the best I could figure based on limited information from web-sites and the World Waterfall Database.
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There are hundreds of small cascades in the lower clove. The water was low and we could cross the stream somewhat easily. However there was a hidden menace. The leaves were drying out from the sun, but were still wet underneath. Several times we slipped painfully because what looked like solid ground was about as slippery as banana peels.


We criss-crossed the creek several times and took lots of pictures of the small cascades.

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These are the falls sometimes called "honolulu" or red rock falls. I'm not sure on the name, but these were around 1000 or so feet of elevation, and there is a trail on the north side (right if you're looking upstream) that heads up and over to bypass these falls. I'd approximate these are around 20 feet tall.
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This is the first large waterfall that we got to (possible names: Evergreen Falls/Gray Rock Falls/Green Falls/ Lower Platte-kill Falls) This is at approximately 1250 ft. elevation. It is definitely over 20 feet tall, maybe less than 50 feet tall.
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We went and checked out the waterfall closer, but we came back to about this distance away (maybe 200 yards) to scale the southern slope of the clove to get up and around it. This is almost back by the gully which leads up to Black Chasm from the bottom. (Which is why according to Waterfall database, they list this as Gray Rock Falls,however I found two other websites that list it as Evergreen falls and I think that name sounds better).

Here are some more shots of it close up
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So like I said, we doubled back down the creek toward the Black Chasm confluence, and then headed up the slope on the south side of the creek. (green bushwack track on map) This slope is VERY FLUID, SLIPPERY AND DANGEROUS. It is not even safe to grab onto trees, as they sometimes come loose from the rock. There are constant landslides on this slope, and alot of rotting landslide/debris. The rocks are just in piles and the leaves hide many holes that your foot can catch in. Also to top it off the slope is covered in stinging Nettles at this time of year, and sometimes you just gotta put your hand there. There is a somewhat "trail" that we ran into about 100' up that slope, but it kept heading up and we wanted to go down to the creek again. We descended bruised, twisted, and stinging from the slope down to the creek widened out again to the point we could follow it.

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Around every turn the creek had boulders which increase in size. Following it took increasingly more and more energy.
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Here you can see Chris and Alex as we make our route up the stream, and the boulders we have to scale keep getting larger and larger.
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We finally got to some double-decker falls (possible name: Rainbow falls) This is at approximately 1550 feet of elevation. These pictures do not look like any other pictures of what people have called "Rainbow falls". However the waterfalls database lists Upper and lower Rainbow falls, and since this has two segments I think it could be the rainbow falls. These are just downstream from the confluence of Devil's kitchen. I'd approximate these are at least 50 feet tall.
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The cliffs from these falls head straight up the spine of the ridge that comes from the southern side of the clove. There looked like some "sketchy" ways through those cliffs, but it didn't look like a sure thing. To get above this we were forced on the southern side, and up an old landslide. As we climbed up this land slide we could see that the falls had a second tier above the first.

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Here is a shot of the landslide we climbed up, Again this was fluid rock and very unstable. However it seemed more logical to head up and look for a way above these falls then to try and backtrack down.

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At the top of this slide were a series of ledges. They reminded me of Friday or North dome. There were some pink ribbons tied to points on trees or cliffs, but they were wet rocks with lots of moss and didn't look scalable. I think it might mark an ice climbing route up the ledges. We tried to head to the right, but the ledges got higher. We were forced further and further left (downstream), and we wound up finding some sketchy but do-able ways through. Again it's like getting up North Dome or friday, it's not a direct route, but you can find the way up through past them to where it "levels off" a bit. This is at about 1900 feet of elevation. (That means it's about 400 feet vertical from the base of rainbow to the top of the ledges we climbed, and "as the crow flies" it is less than .2 miles)

We were sapped of energy making it out of that clove, so we didn't attempt to navigate down the ledges to the top of the Rainbow Falls. We followed the contour line we were at until we came to the property boundary marked in Yellow for the Platte-clove preserve.

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This is actually directly across from Devil's Kitchen.
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So we never got to the base near Bridal veil falls. Here is the only shot I got of this.
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Above bridal viel falls is a nice small cascade
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Finally we ascended to the top of our journey, the Plattekill falls
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We took the trail system to the road, and then took the walk back down Platte-kill road to the car
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So the only places we didn't make it to, were the Hell's hole, bottom of Bridal Veil, and the base of Devil's Kitchen. I know there has got to be a way to cut more to the "right" or "upstream" from that rainbow falls, but it just didn't seem apparent at the time.
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Re: Platte-Clove 10/19/13

New postby mike » Sun Oct 20, 2013 10:33 pm

Great trip report along with great pictures! Very enjoyable to read. Wish I could have joined you.

You can find the state and private property by looking at the GIS info. You can get the GPS location on the GIS also. Buy, it is a lot nicer if you can get permission.

You can get a list of the waterfalls here:. There are 14 waterfalls above 20' and 18 waterfalls all together. All but one is on state land. There are two on Hell's Hell Creek and one on Black Chasam. We haven't surveyed most of the waterfalls yet. You can get to the bottom of the Bridal Veil Falls by looking here.. The upper part of Platte Clove is scary and dangerous. Easy to get killed in there. I have been waiting for a good water flow to photograph Bridal Veil Falls from the bottom. Just haven't found the right time.

Also, the south side of the creek is rattlesnake country. They have been seen in the lower section. I have never seen them there, but they have been seen.

Also never access Hell's Hole from Rt 16 by Hell's Hole Falls. Very dangerous there. That is where Larry fell and was almost killed.

We also have a new waterfall safety section here.

Awesome report!
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Re: Platte-Clove 10/19/13

New postby Jon » Mon Oct 21, 2013 7:43 am

Thanks mike. That list of falls disagrees with everything I put. This is why chris wanted to get up there, so we could see how many falls were actually ythere.There is maybe another 1 or 2 waterfalls above where we couldnt get to but below devils kitchen then. A survey of the clove would be nice, as there are no definate height numbers for some of these but they are just as spectacular as plattekill falls.
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Re: Platte-Clove 10/19/13

New postby mike » Mon Oct 21, 2013 10:36 am

The problem with Platte Clove is that the names have changed many times over the years. Our list came from a local guy who is suppose to know more about Platte Clove then anyone. He is on this list, but hasn't posted in several years. You can also check with Dunn. Dunn didn't explore the region, but did get the list from the MTHS (as I understand). A lot of history in there. You can also check with the Bruderhof. They hiking in there often, and know a lot about the region too. Until we get in there, I will not say that the list is total correct. But, it is suppose to be the most correct list out there. Fall is the best time to explore waterfalls. Easy to explore in the Winter, but difficult to see all the drops, as the ice builds up. Summer has leaves and is slippery. Spring is too wet.

One of the problem with difficult gorges with waterfalls is that the difficult regions often get skipped. For example, Buttermilk Falls was reported to have 3, 5, 7, 9, and 10 drops. The right answer is 9. There is confusion over one drop that some people count as two drops, so 10 drops is very close to being correct. It took us two years to get to all of them. Some are ridiculously dangerous. The upper part of Platte Clove is not different. From Bridal Veil Falls down, it is really tough going. From the Bridal Veil Lookout, it is a 100' drop on the right side, and 200' drop on the left side. Less then 50' of travel between them. Then there is Lucas Kill Falls. Another ridiculously dangerous and difficult ravine.

I do love your pictures.
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Re: Platte-Clove 10/19/13

New postby mtnclimber » Mon Oct 21, 2013 3:07 pm

Yeah, the pictures are great. Looked like such a great hike. A little scary near the top.
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