If you've ever enjoyed a day at this popular hiking spot you may have unknowingly stumbled across one of the most mysterious places in the Hudson Valley.

The Mid Hudson region is home to many natural wonders, but one of the most fascinating natural phenomenons is actually hiding in plain sight. Visitors flock to Ulster County to enjoy the clean air and fantastic views. There are some incredible trails and mountains to explore that offer breathtaking panoramics, especially in the fall. One such mountain is believed to have a terribly destructive origin story.

Panther Mountain, located in the Town of Shandaken, is one of the Catskill High Peaks. At 3,720 feet in elevation, the mountain is the 18th highest in the area. Surrounded by the Esopus and Woodland Creeks, the mountain is almost a perfect circle, which geologists believe is a result of a violent impact.

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Scientists have measured the area and discovered that it has a lower gravitational pull than other mountains in the area. A gravimeter revealed the slightly lower gravity on Panther Mountain, which is believed to be due to the lower density of rock in its center. This rock was most likely created from landslides of the crater's outer edge.

Samples of rock from a former gas mining project on the mountain in the 1940s uncovered microscopic iron spherules. The presence of these elements in the material is clear evidence of impact from a meteorite.

A visit to Panther Mountain is truly breathtaking, but after learning of its violent past, the view certainly takes on a whole new meaning. If you'd like to explore the area for yourself, the mountain is easily accessible from the trailhead lot on Route 47.

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