August 25, 2003
Vroman's Nose

Rain, haze, and high humidity were the norm for several days last week before it finally blew through and left us with a glorious sunny and cool weekend - just in time for our group hike to Vromanís Nose in Schoharie County, hosted by The Catskill Center. The theme for this hike was geology of the Schoharie Valley, led by Dr. Robert Titus, professor of geology at Hartwick College. Dr. Titus is often referred to as the ĎCatskills Geologistí, and he has written books on Catskills geology and regular articles for Kaatskill Life magazine. His popularity, coupled with the fantastic hiking weather, drew 27 people to Vromanís Nose for this short but interesting hike.

Vromanís Nose is a hilltop overlooking the Schoharie Creek Valley near Middleburgh. The side of hill facing the valley was scraped (or Ďplucked-offí) by passing glaciers several thousand years ago, leaving a line of cliffs that afford spectacular views of the rich agriculture in the valley, the river, and surrounding ridgelines. We met at the Vromanís Nose parking area and trailhead, on Mill Valley Road, off of NY State Route 30, about a mile south of Middleburgh. We were greeted by Harold Vroman and Wally Van Houten, members of the Vromanís Nose Preservation Corporation, the non-profit organization that owns and takes care of the land here. The Vromanís Nose Preservation Corporation was formed over 20 years ago to protect the beautiful property from development, and they continue to keep the trails open to the public; membership in the organization is welcomed to help support their mission.

Before we even left the parking area, Dr. Titus began working his magic on the crowd. He has a special gift for storytelling, and can take the sometimes dry subject of geology and make it captivating for those who listen and learn from him. He spoke of the three worlds that he lives in as a geologist -the present world and all its biology and beauty; the world of the bedrock with its ancient stories; and the world of the glaciers that sculpted the topography we see today. As we made our way up the trail under a dark hemlock forest, we stopped and listened to Dr. Titus talk about the formation of Catskill sandstones at the bottom of an ancient sea, 300-400 million years ago. Further up the trail we saw evidence of more recent glaciers that scoured the bedrock and deposited of pieces of limestone carried from the north. The distance from the trailhead to the cliffs at the top of Vromanís Nose is only three quarters of a mile, and relatively gradual as it ascends from about 600 feet elevation in the valley to just over 1,200 feet elevation at the top. Just before the top, the trail joined up with the Long Path for a small part of its 350-mile journey from New York City to Albany County.

As we crested the top of the hill and stepped out onto the rock ledges, a whole gorgeous world opened up before us. Thick green hillsides flanked a wide, curving valley with a flat bottom filled with all manner of agricultural fields and historic farms. Route 30 wound its way through the valley, as did the bright blue ribbon of the Schoharie Creek. A light breeze enveloped the hikers as they took in the mesmerizing scene, and a couple of ravens cackled and played on the air currents around the cliffs below us. There were no more blueberries on the numerous bushes this late in the summer, but everyone enjoyed their lunches and listened to Dr. Titus continue to unfold the fascinating story of the glaciers, ice-fields, and large lakes, not to mention mastodons and tundra plants, that once filled the valley below us. Needless to say, no one was in a hurry to leave.

Past the main ledge, which looked south toward the higher Catskill peaks, was another beautiful rock outcrop that looked northeast, over the village of Middleburgh. It was here that many of us continued to click away with our cameras and finished our rolls of film. Most of the group passed this spot and continued down the loop trail back to the parking area, while some others went back the way we came because it was a bit easier. This is certainly one of the best views in the region for the least amount of hiking, and is highly recommended. The other great incentive for making the trip to the Schoharie Valley is making time to stop at some of the many great farm stands. With the fall harvest coming up quick, you better set aside a weekend soon...

- Chris and Aaron



Catskill Mountain Club

PO Box 558, Pine Hill, NY 12465