An intense, lesser-traveled approach to the Kaaterskill High Peak.


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Once believed to be the highest peak in the Catskills, the Kaaterskill High Peak remains the most dominant mountain as viewed from most of the Hudson Valley.

Its beauty and prevalence made it the subject of both artists and vacationers of the early 1900s.

Today, it serves as a popular destination for hikers looking for an adventure. The naming of the summit has a long history.

Before topographers were able to accurately map the region, the adjacent Round Top Mountain to the west was originally believed to be the official higher point.

Today, however, the summit is listed near 3,650', with Round Top listed at only 3,450'.

Wikipedia even states that, "In the latter years of the 18th century, the peak was known as Liberty Cap for its similarity to the Phrygian cap popular during the American and French revolutions." There are two major approaches to High Peak: a southern approach and a northern approach.

This northern and most challenging approach begins in Kaaterskill Clove in nearby Palenville.

The trailhead is obscured behind private property with multiple options to park along Malden Avenue or NY-23A.

A restaurant lies close to the trailhead and has also been known to allow hiker parking. Begin your hike by following the blazes for New York's Long Path.

Mostly old two-track, it ascends steeply up Kaaterskill Clove to two waterfalls, Wildcat Falls being first.

An exposed ledge offers an excellent viewpoint.

Shortly up the trail, you'll find Buttermilk Falls, accessible by a short spur off the path.

This landmark serves as a good turn-around for anyone looking to shorten their hike. Ahead, the climb intensifies as it makes a very direct approach up its northern face.

As the trail does so, Long Path will follow around the contour of the mountain, while a more direct route climbs straight to the summit.

A small grassy clearing nestled deep in the boreal forest denotes the official summit.

Two USGS Survey markers can be found nearby.

For some incredible views, continue south beyond the high point to Hurricane Ledge.

Just a short walk away, a steep, exposed cliff gives ways to phenomenal views of nearby Indian Head and Twin Mountains, connected by the infamous Devil's Path.

Enjoy the views: they are arguably some of the best in the Catskills. For those interested in an additional challenge, remnants of two plane crashes can be found nearby.

One is located near a snowmobile trail, while the other's location is obscured by dense brush.

Lightly traveled paths have been formed over time by those visiting the wreckage. Sources: