Guidebook

Explore the Dramatic Catskill Mountains of New York

From the highly acclaimed Devil’s Path to beautiful fire towers and lakes, find your perfect hike in one of New York’s wildest forest.

Brendon Voelker

Description

Nearing 6,000 square miles, the Catskill Mountains offer critically-acclaimed hiking less than 100 mile from New York City and Albany. The dramatic high mountain peaks rise quickly from the Hudson River Valley and the expansive network of trail has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a day trip or weekend trip, the Catskills are a summer destination in New York that can’t be overlooked.

As the centerpiece of the Catskill Mountains, the infamous Devil’s Path is one of the most sought after traverses in the entire state. Nearly 22-miles, the path runs east to west, summiting several High Peaks along the way. The mountains frequently offer dramatic views of nearby peaks but must be earned through arduous climbs and descents down fall lines. Expect three points of contact at many times and know that there isn’t an “easy” part of the traverse. The trail is typically hiked over two days, often with an overnight stay at Devil’s Tombstone Campground, one of the oldest in the Catskills.

The Sugarloaf Mountain and Indian Head Mountain Loops are two popular 6-mile day hikes that include short segments of the Devil’s Path. The Sugarloaf Mountain Loop incorporates a unique area known for its rock “chairs”, as they appear. Catskill Mountaineer even suggests they are "...the most elaborate rock structures in the Catskill Mountains." Heading over to Indian Head Mountain, enjoy dramatic views and picturesque boreal forest on what is possibly the most visited hike in this guidebook.

Slightly north, the Kaaterskill High Point offers both southern and norther approach routes. According to sources, it was once believed that the adjacent Round Top Mountain was the region’s high point due to its perspective relative to nearby mountains. It was later corrected to the Kaaterskill high point, which has an elevation near 3,650’, roughly 200’ above Round Top. Both hikes incorporate part of New York’s Long Path, then connect to the official high point one of several ways. Plan to spend some time exploring the summit when you arrive - you can find multiple USGS Survey Markers, lush views on Hurricane Ledge, and two plane crashes all in the vicinity.

For a shorter, family-friendly hike, Huckleberry Point offers incredible views from a rocky overlook beginning at the DEC Trailhead. Less than 5 miles round-trip, this is an easier hike showcasing the beauty of the nearby Hudson Valley. The Overlook Mountain and Echo Lake hike also offers something for everyone. Day hikers frequently choose a 5-mile out-and-back trek to the historic Overlook Mountain. An old ranger station, remnants of a hotel, abandoned fire tower, and rocky overlook can all be found around the summit. Don’t hesitate to explore a little off the beaten path. For those looking for a longer hike or overnight trip, follow the main trail to Echo Lake, a pristine mountain lake nestled along the southern base of Plattekill Mountain. A lean-to shelter and plenty of primitive sites along the lake make this one of the most highly sought-after camping spots in the region

The Devil's Path
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

The Devil's Path

1 day +
35.4 km
2,557 m
2,631 m
A rugged thru-hike bagging five of the Catskill High Peaks.
Severe
Private
Overlook Mountain and Echo Lake
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Overlook Mountain and Echo Lake

3 - 4 hrs
13.5 km
709 m
709 m
A phenemonal day hike or overnight trip to a historic fire tower and serene lake.
Difficult
Private
Sugarloaf Mountain Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Sugarloaf Mountain Loop

2 - 3 hrs
10.1 km
627 m
627 m
A challenging day hike connecting three trails and summiting Sugarloaf Mountain.
Severe
Private
Indian Head Mountain Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Indian Head Mountain Loop

2 - 3 hrs
9.7 km
536 m
536 m
A relentless day hike to the summit of Indian Head Mountain.
Severe
Private
Huckleberry Point
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Huckleberry Point

1 - 2 hrs
7.3 km
354 m
354 m
A shorter day hike to an excellent vista atop Huckleberry Point.
Moderate
Private
Kaaterskill High Point: Southern Approach
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Kaaterskill High Point: Southern Approach

3 - 4 hrs
12.5 km
595 m
595 m
A popular route to summit the Kaaterskill High Peak.
Difficult
Private
Kaaterskill High Peak: Northern Approach
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Kaaterskill High Peak: Northern Approach

5 - 6 hrs
17.4 km
1,220 m
1,220 m
An intense, lesser-traveled approach to the Kaaterskill High Peak.
Severe
Private