The Plattekill drains a pristine corner of the Catskill Mountains. It is worth exploring even if you have no intention of ever paddling this gem of a creek. The first time I ever saw the Plattekill was on a fall day after a hurricane had dropped several inches of rain in the area. Finding the Kaaterskill too high, we decided to explore this tiny drainage and I was blown away by the beauty of the area. Rising out of the lower Hudson valley, the Catskills lurch precariously upward in an improbable feat of nature. Falling off the eastern side of these mountains near West Saugerties is the Plattekill, which makes an impressive and sudden descent to the valley floor. The topography of this drainage is quite remarkable. There are numerous tiny creeks that feed into a giant bowl or cove, so to speak, and each falls precipitously several hundred feet before joining together to become the Plattekill proper. After a major rain event, you will be hard pressed to find so many large waterfalls in a relatively small area.
It is very probable that there are some runnable drops upstream of the major gradient (ie; 800fpm or more), but the run is best approached by hiking up from the base of the access road which winds its way to the top of the mountain, rather than parking at the top and hiking down. This has been attempted and is decidedly not recommended. Rope work is required and the gradient is too steep until you get closer to the valley floor. (Note: see below for an update, with access issues.)
Hiking upstream for about one mile, you will encounter several rapids of a pool-drop variety ranging in difficulty from Class III-V. They are almost all waterfalls. The gradient for this mile is 360 feet, but the first half mile is less steep than the second half. As the trail begins to disappear, the gradient will increase even more. You have now entered exploratory terrain. Good luck. If there is anything runnable from this point upstream, it will certainly be steep and require quite a bit of creativity. There is also a mile or so of whitewater below the hike-in drops. It is roadside for the most part and not as steep as up above, but has a couple of waterfalls and is good class IV boating.
I will work on getting some pictures up, as well as some more detailed shuttle descriptions and information on gradient. In the meantime, if you're looking to do some exploration, this is a great place to start, with boat or without. Enjoy.
Note: the following description, containing an access warning, is copied from a comment:
I grew up about 20 mins up the road from this amazing canyon and used it as a swimming hole for the 15 years I lived there. I remember jumping off of 10-20 foot waterfalls into clean deep pools. Last year I went back to NY for a short trip and thought I would go for a hike now that I boated. Damn I wish I had a boat. 360 fpm and almost all of that gradient is well-defined falls with clean, deep landings.
Anyway, the first D as far as anyone can tell was in '08. As of 2010 the Platteclove Rd. putin, recommended by the author, is now completely off-limits. A few squatters from Saugerties ruined the parking access for the very few people who know about this place. This is Deliverance territory (for real, yes, in NY), and I have heard that the landowners of the old parking area have lately popped a few shots off at hikers and swimmers.
The best way to access this now is by parking at the bridge IMMEDIATELY upstream of the junction of West Saugerties Road and Platte Clove Road. This adds a half mile to the run. To set shuttle, continue upstream on Platteclove Rd., past all the "no parking, no trespassing" signs. Don't even think of stopping here.
The road becomes narrow and steep for a few miles and there is no parking until the top of the hill. Walk back down this steep road until you are safely around the 800fpm section and bushwhack your way to the creek. Once by the water I recommend scouting all the way down to the first bridge you come to. Don't get seen here.
Go back to the boats, run some drops, don't get out at the bridge you scouted either. A quick 1/2 mile of much less gradient returns you to the second bridge and a legally parked rig. I hiked this whole section in spring 2010 in black clothes and knowing the area. I saw very few wood problems but they can happen fast and some of the drops are gorged. This makes the hike about three times as far and you essentially have to hike the whole thing now, but it's the best way.
Thanks a bunch, Charlie.
Lat/longitude coords are approximate, based on online maps and the above description.
Catskills Area Reaches
Basic Creek Batavia Kill Bear Kill
Beaver Kill (Delaware Trib) Beaver Kill (Hudson Trib) Beer Kill
Beer Kill, W. Branch Bowery Creek Bush Kill
Callicoon Creek, E. Branch Callicoon Creek, N. Branch Catskill Creek (1.)
Catskill Creek (2.) Catskill Creek (4.) Claverack Creek
Coxing Kill Delaware Delaware, E. Branch
Delaware, W. Branch Little Delaware Dry Brook
East Kill Esopus Creek (1) Esopus Creek (2)
Esopus Creek (3) Esopus Creek (4) Esopus Creek (5)
Hannacrois Creek Kaaterskill Creek (1.) Kaaterskill Creek (2.)
Kinderhook Creek (3.) Kiskatom Creek Mombaccus Creek
Mill Brook Neversink (1.) Neversink, E. Branch
Neversink, W. Branch Peters Kill Platte Kill
Plattekill Creek Potic Creek Roeliff Jansen Kill (1)
Roeliff Jansen Kill (2) Rochester Creek Rondout Creek (1)
Rondout Creek (2) Rondout Creek (3) Sandburg Creek
Saw Kill (1) Saw Kill (2) Saw Kill (3)
Schoharie Creek (1.) Schoharie Creek (2.) Shingle Kill Creek
Squirmer Creek Stony Clove Creek Ten Mile Creek
Thorp Creek Tremper Kill Wallkill
West Kill Woodland Creek Vly Creek
Google Map of New York Whitewater
New York Whitewater Paddlers Facebook Group
8 years ago
Visual. If the Esopus at Stony Clove is over 300 cfs,
Plattekill might be running. Your best bet is to just
head to the Kaaterskill and if you find it too high, the
Plattekill is the next drainage over and it should be
running.This run is extremely flashy. If it is
too high and it is no longer raining, it will drop to
boatable levels pretty quickly.
Permits are not required for this reach.
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