The scenic 17-foot Schalk’s Falls sits on the Plattekill Creek near the base of Platte Clove in West Saugerties. Although the property on both sides of the falls is posted good views can still be had from roadside on the bridge just downstream from the falls.
Platte Clove, also known as Platte Kill Clove, is a deep, dark heavily wooded, historic, wildly rugged and wonderfully scenic mountain pass through the northern Catskills. Charles Lanman, a noted American writer and artist who spent much time in the clove, described his impressions of the clove in 1844: “Plauterkill Clove is an eddy of the great and tumultuous world, and in itself a world of unwritten poetry, whose primitive loneliness has not yet been disfigured by the influences of mammon, and God grant that it may continue so forever. It is endeared to my heart for being a favourite haunt for solitude, and for having been consecrated by a brotherhood of friends to the pure religion of nature; and they always enter there as into a holy sanctuary. (1)
Platte Clove is home to, depending on who’s counting, over 18 waterfalls, many of which are only reachable with extreme caution. The exact names of the waterfalls are often in debate, as many of the names have changed over the years or are referred to differently in various historical guidebooks, but include fanciful names such as Old Mill, Platte Kill, Bridal Veil, Pomeroy, Rainbow, Lower Rainbow, Devil’s Kitchen (Devil’s Chamber), Green (The Ghost), Evergreen, Rocky Rapids, Gray Chasm (Gray Rock), Black Chasm, Upper Red Falls, Lower Red Falls, Red Rock, Honolulu, Double Leap or Blue Bell.
Plattekill Creek forms on the northern slope of Indian Head Mountain and flows south towards Plattekill Falls to begin its rapid descent through the clove. After Schalk’s Falls Plattekill Creek flows into the Esopus Creek for a short remaining journey to feed the Hudson River. Given its precipitous climb and extremely narrow turns, the seasonal Platte Clove Road, heading west and upwards from Schalk’s Falls, is closed from November to April each year.
Landman, Charles. Letters From a Landscape Painter. Boston, James Munroe and Company, 1844. Page 50.