“A hike that can frequently be like a climb, with lots of straight up and down on roots and rocks.”
— Kristin McLane
Birding · Cave · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildlife
Camping above 3500' is only allowed in winter. No swimming in Notch Lake.
Frequently called the most dangerous and toughest hike in the East, most hikers tackle this trail east to west in order to go up the steepest parts. You'll bag five Catskills 3500' peaks along the way: Indian Head Mountain, Twin Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain, Plateau Mountain, and West Kill Mountain. There are a few lean-tos available to split the hike up into an overnight or two. Plenty of viewpoints will reward your efforts.
Need to Know
Map available fromnjnytc.org
. Smileys Taxi will do shuttles: 518-589-6533.
From the Prediger Road trailhead, follow the red NYDEC trail markers. The trail starts out fairly level as you hike into the base of the mountain, and becomes steep as you start going up Indian Head Mountain. There are a several steep sections, including chimneys and cliffs, and also several views before you reach the view-less, marker-less summit at 3573'.
Descend Indian Head into Jimmy Dolan Notch, and then start climbing again, up to the summit of Twin Mountain at 3640'. There are a couple of views along the way again, but no view or marker at the summit. Pass by a cave on the descent into Pecoy Notch.
More views mark the climb up Sugarloaf Mountain, and a small cairn marks the summit at 3800'. It is a very steep and rocky descent into Mink Hollow, where a spring and a lean-to can be reached on short side trails.
Continue on the Devil's Path, passing a spring shortly after, and enjoy the views and flat hiking on top of Plateau Mountain. There is no summit marker again, but you'll pass the summit at 3840'.
Going down Plateau is generally less steep than the trail has been so far, and you end with a fairly level hike out to the only road crossing of the trail, Route 214 at Stony Clove Notch. The more difficult eastern half of the trail is now complete!
Cross the street and start climbing up Hunter Mountain. The climb starts out steeply, but you'll actually get to enjoy some switchbacks towards the top of it. From the Devil's Acre lean-to, you can take side trails to either of the two summits on Hunter Mountain. Pass a spring and continue downhill into Diamond Notch. There are falls there, and another lean-to on a side trail.
Start the final climb up West Kill Mountain. You'll pass another spring and a couple of views before the summit, marked with a cairn at 3880'. The trail stays high, passing another spring, until St. Anne's Peak, where you begin the descent into another Mink Hollow, and follow the stream out to the trailhead at Spruceton Road.
History & Background
Part of the trail was first cut in 1929, with more being added in the 1970s.