Day-Trip: Hike Indian Head Mountain, Catskills, NY
Length: 8 mile loop
Location: Indian Head Wilderness, Catskills Mountains, NY
Map: NYNJTC Trail Map 141
Seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall
Description: Scenic, rugged, evil (...features the infamous Devil’s Path), bun-burning, piney, goodness.
With spring in full swing, it’s time to shake off the cold-weather lethargy and regain your hiking feet! This circa 8-mile lollipop loop in the Indian Head Wilderness of the Catskills is guaranteed to reawaken your wild side and get you back into peak hiking shape.
PLUS you’ll get a chance to experience the absurdity that is the Devil’s Path with its nearly 90º vertical ascensions and overhanging rock ledges.
On the way up to Sherman’s Lookout…I mentioned the bun-burning, right?
To reach this trek, you will park at the DEC parking lot along Platte Clove Road (GPS: 42.133737, -74.082089) and hike south along the Long Path toward Platte Clove Preserve. After walking near the Artist-in-residency quarters and through a piney wonderland for 0.95 miles, you’ll happen upon the Quarry with its Catskill-famous rockin’ chair arrangements.
Trust me, you won’t be able to help yourself, either.
Past the Quarry, you’ll continue on the Long Path as it hangs right intersects with the appropriately red-blazed Devil’s Path.
Fun fact: From end to end, the Devil’s Path runs 25.2 miles and includes 5 of the 35 Catskill High Peaks. Considered one of the most difficult trails in the country, this “path” is an ambitious endeavor for even the most experienced hikers.
While this is only a section of the Devil’s Path, it still manages to supply plenty of treacherous terrain in a short 2.8-mile span. You’ll climb up to Sherman’s Lookout, get a framed view of the surrounding mountains at Indian Head’s pinnacle [opening photo]…and eventually conclude your section hike of the DP with a slivered view at Jimmy Dolan Notch (a nice place for a lunch break).
View from Jimmy Dolan Notch
After this viewpoint, you’ll turn right onto the blue-blazed Jimmy Dolan Notch trail for 1.6 miles, then turn right again to return to another section of the Devil’s Path (it’s a windy little bugger). From here, you’ll trudge onward for 1.45 miles with not much in the way of scenery (at this point you’ll be itchin’ to complete this bad boy). When you run into the Long Path once again, hang left, return back through Platte Clove Preserve, and eventually arrive back at the DEC parking area on Platt Clove road to complete the 8 mile loop.
Hiking through Platte Clove Preserve on the Long Path
Whewf! Writing that description brings me back to how thankful I was upon finally reaching my vehicular. This hike is a real kick-in-the-butt after winter hibernation – albeit a welcomed kick in the butt; it entices you to get back onto the trail and conquer ALL the mountains ;)
If you have a hike that kicks your hiking season into high gear, post it in the comments below!
Until next time, happy trails :D