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Hunter Mountain Loop

Hunter Mountain

Overview of this Hike:

Distance: 8.16 miles from the DEC Parking Lot on Rt 6.
Time: Average 5.75 hours round trip
Elevation Gain: 1,898 feet from the DEC Parking Lot and the summit.
Best Time to Hike: Morning.
Difficulty: Moderate
VO Map No: 91, 34, 32, 35, Rt 6 (Spruceton Rd)
Catskill Highest: #2
Peak Elevation: 4,046'
Digital Mapper: Topo Terrain Satellite
Attractions: Nice walk up Hunter Brook Trail
Attractions: Fire Tower has excellent views.
Attractions: Nice conifer forest near top
Unattractions: Trail on south side of loop is poorly maintained and rocky
Dangers: None known
Common Animals: Black bears, Bobcats, Coyotes, birds.
Risky Animals: Rattlesnakes (None known), Bears (Low-to-Moderate)
Access Methods: Foot, ski, and snowshoe



Maps, Profile, and GPS files

Hunter Mountain Loop GPS map
Hunter Mountain Loop elevation profile
Click here to download the GPS file in Garmin GDB format
Click here to download the GPS file in Garmin GPX format
Click here to download the GPS file in Garmin TEXT format




Directions to Trail Head from New York State Thruway (Easist, not the shortest):

  • GPS Coordinates to DEC Parking Lot: N42 11.083 W74 16.305 - Elevation is approximately 2,117 feet
  • Take New York State Thruway to Exit 21 (Catskill).
  • Take a left out of the NYS Thruway entrance road.
  • Go approximately 3/4 mile
  • Take a right onto Route 23 West
  • Go approximately 6.6 miles to Cairo, NY
  • Take a LEFT onto Rt 32. McDonalds Rest. on corner.
  • Go approximately 7.7 miles on Rt 32
  • Take a RIGHT onto Rt 23A
  • Go appoximately 22.2 miles to the intersection of Rt 23a and Rt 42 .
  • Go approximately 0.3 miles - Take LEFT and go over bridge (over Schoharie Creek)
  • Go approximately 4.1 miles on Rt 42 (from Rt 23a) to Rt 6 (Spruceton Road)
  • Go approximately 6.7 miles on Rt 6 (Spruceton Road).
  • About 4 miles down Rt 6 the road will go from a 2-lane road into a 1-lane road. The 1-lane road looks like a private driveway. Continue down the 1-lane road.
  • There are a number of parking lots along this road. The parking lot you are looking for has a horse loading ramp. GPS: N42 11.083 W74 16.305



  • Special Circumstances about this Hike


    This is probably the easist route to the top of Hunter Mountain. The two accesses from the East side requires a steep climb. The access from the Diamond Notch access side is rocky climb.


    Mile Stone Chart

    Mile PointAltitudeNotes
    0.002,117 DEC Parking Lot - N42 11.083 W74 16.305
    0.022,117 DEC Registraion Box is just past the road barrier with the stop sign on it.
    0.352,315' Unmarked Trail to Rusk & East Rusk Mountain (on horseshoe turn).
    1.412,905' Trail Junction. Straight will take you down the East side of East Rusk near the West side of Hunter Mtn Ski Bowl. Right will take you to the summit of Hunter Mountain. Go RIGHT and leave Jeep Trail, and go up the foot path.
    1.823,291 Water source on Right side of Trail - Pipe sticking out of ground.
    1.833,301 Side trail to the John Robb Lean-To.
    1.943,400 First good view of Rusk Mtn - Flat spot.
    2.163,550 Trail Junction. Left will take you to the top of the Hunter Mtn Ski Bowl.
    2.653,671 View Point off the left side of the trail
    3.093,968 Trail Junction to Fire Tower - Can see fire tower from trail junction.
    3.133,980 Hunter Mountain Fire Tower
    3.434,006 Trail Junction (4-way). Right will take you to an excellent view point (Yellow Marker). Straight will take you down the Loop Trail (Yellow Marker). Left will take you down the Becker Hollow Trail & summit loop (Blue Marker). Take RIGHT to view ledge. Then reverse back and continue straight down the Yellow Trail.
    4.793,560 Trail Junction. Left will take you to Stony Clove (Rt 214). Straight (or Right) to continue on the Hunter Loop Trail. Continue STRAIGHT.
    4.893,531 Lean-To
    5.503,450 Great views of Spruceton Valley.
    7.042,380 Trail Junction. Left to West Kill Mtn & West Kill Falls. Straight will continue you to the end of the Hunter Loop Trail. After viewing Falls (next to trail) continue STRAIGHT.
    7.792,023 DEC Registration Box
    7.822,018 Road Barrier by Trail Head.
    8.162,160 DEC Parking lot where your car is parked.

    Hike to Hunter Mountain Loop

    Parking lot for hiking to Hunter Mountain
    The picture on the left is where you can park on Spruceton Road (Rt 6). The parking lot is fairly large. It is the parking lot with the horse loading ramp. If this parking lot is full, there are two more parking lots further down the road.

    The trailhead is right next to the parking lot. Look for the steel road barrier with the stop sign on the barrier.
    Hunter Mountain
    DEC registration box for hike to Hunter Mountain
    The registration box is about 50 feet past the steel barrier. It is always good to register your hike. It helps provide funds for hikers, and can help save your life should you get lost.

    The picture on the right shows you what the trail looks like in the beginning of the hike. In the beginning, the trail is very mellow.
    Hunter Mountain
    bridge over creek to summit of Hunter Mountain
    As you enter the Ox Hollow area, you will cross the new bridge that passes over Hunter Brook. After you cross the bridge the grade will start to increase. The uphill grade is around 10%.

    The picture on the right is at the "Horseshoe Turn" on the trail. There is an unofficial trail that will take you to the top of Rusk Mountain and East Rusk Mountain.
    Loop turn to branch off to Rusk mountain
    hike to Hunter Mountain
    The picture on the left show you what the trail looks like on the uphill climb. This section is part of the old jeep trail used to build the Hunter Mountain Fire Tower. This road continues down the other side of the mountain range, and comes out near the West side of Hunter Mountain Ski Bowl.
    pass between rusk mountain and Hunter Mountain
    At mile post 1.41 you will come to this 3-way Trail Junction. Continuing straight will take you down the other side of the mountain range, and comes out near the West side of Hunter Mountain Ski Bowl. Going Right will take you to Hunter Mountain Fire Tower. If you go left (bushwacking), is the eastest route up to East Rusk Mountain. You want to go RIGHT.
    hike to Hunter Mountain
    The picture on the right shows the entrance to the trail to the Hunter Mountain Fire Tower. It is part of the old Jeep Trail, but now is overgrown. It climbs the mountain at a slightly steeper rate. In the beginning it will go thru a number of switchbacks.

    The picture on the RIGHT show an excellent water source. You can file this at mile post 1.82 (elev 3291'). At the water source is a trail that goes to the John Robb Lean-to. Also, if you hike up a little further you will find the official side trail to the John Robb Lean-To. This lean-to probably has the best views of any lean-to in the Catskills. It has a spectacular view over the Spruceton Valley.
    water bucket near the summit of Hunter Mountain
    Hunter Mountain
    The picture on the left is another view of the trail as you continue to ascend up to the summit of Hunter Mountain.
    first view on the way to Hunter Mountain fire tower
    At mile post 1.94 (elev 3400') you will come to your first view point. There is also a nice flat section here. The view in the picture is Rusk Mountain and East Rusk Mountain.
    trail junction to hunter mountain ski bowl and Hunter Mountain fire tower
    At mile post 2.16 (elev 3550') you will come to a Trail Junction. Going left will take you to the top of Hunter Mountain Ski Bowl. It is 1.04 miles to the top of the ski lifts. Hunter Mountain Ski Bowl also runs the ski lifts in the summer for hikers who want a very easy way to Hunter Mtn Fire Tower. You want to continue STRAIGHT.
    sign showing trail junction to hunter mountain ski bowl and Hunter Mountain fire tower
    Here is another picture of the sign to Hunter Mountain Ski Bowl.

    The picture on the right shows the trail head to Hunter Mountain Ski Bowl from the uphill side
    trail junction to hunter mountain ski bowl and Hunter Mountain fire tower
    hike to Hunter Mountain fire tower
    The picture on the left shows what the trail looks like after the trail junction to Hunter Mountain Fire Tower. The trail is pretty easy going to the top. There are a few muddy sections.
    Hunter Mountain
    The picture on the left shows the trail junction to a small view point.

    The picture on the right shows the view point. Mountains in the background are the Blackhead Mountain Range and Windham High Peak.
    view of blackheads near the summit of Hunter Mountain
    ranger station on the summit of Hunter Mountain
    The picture on the left shows the Ranger Station. This is mile post 3.13.

    The picture on the right shows the Hunter Mountain Fire Tower.
    Hunter Mountain fire tower
    hiking the loop around the summit of Hunter Mountain
    The picture on the left shows the trail past the fire tower. From the fire tower, take a left back onto the trail.

    The picture on the right shows the next trail junction. It is at mile post 3.43 (elev 4,006'). It is a 4-way intersection. Left will take you down to Becker Hollow (most difficult access to Hunter Mtn). Right will take you to a ledge with an excellent view of the Spruceton Valley. I strongly recommend that you check out the view. It is the best of the hike. Continuing straight will continue you along the trail. First we will check out the ledge, so go RIGHT.
    trail junction near the summit of Hunter Mountain and the view point of spruceton valley
    view of spruceton valley from Hunter Mountain
    The picture on the left shows the trail to the Ledge. The trail is very short, so don't skip this little gem.
    view of the spruceton valley from view point near summit of Hunter Mountain
    The picture on the left shows a view from the ledge. Once you get done, reverse your course back to the Trail Junction. Then take a RIGHT and continue further down the trail.
    Hunter Mountain
    The picture on the left shows the trail past the 4-way Trail Junction. It continues down a conifer forest. The trail then starts to descend in elevation. The forest will change from a conifer forest to maples, oaks, and birch trees.

    The picture on the right shows the next trail junction. It is at mile post 4.79 (elev 3,560'). If you take a sharp left (almost a 180 degree turn) This trail will take you down the very steep trail to Stony Clove Notch (Rt 214) and the Devil's Tombstone Campground. Continuing straight will continue along the Hunter Loop. You want to go STRAIGHT.
    trail junction to Rt 214 devil's tombstone in stony clove notch near Hunter Mountain
    Hunter Mountain
    The picture on the left shows the trail sign at this Trail Junction.

    The picture on the right shows the trail sign at this Trail Junction.
    Hunter Mountain
    trail near second lean-to on Hunter Mountain
    The picture on the left shows what the trail looks like just past Trail Junction. This area has lots of birch trees and in the summer it has a lot of weeds.
    second lean-to on Hunter Mountain
    About 1/10 of a mile past the Trail Junction is a DEC Lean-To. The picture on the left shows the lean-to. There is some running water near the lean-to, but it doesn't come from a pipe. It is just running water on the ground.

    Just past the Lean-to is a small unmarked trail junction on the left. There is a small rock cairn. This is the trail to the summit to Leavitt's Peak. It will add 1.40 miles to your hike (round trip). This is an option hike, and not part of the mileage listed above. It is a very peaceful hike. There are no views from the summit. About 200 feet after the umarked trail junction to Leavitt's Peak, the trail will start to descend in elevation.
    trail junction near geiger point Hunter Mountain
    At mile post 5.50 (elev 3,450') you will come up a small incline that you see in the picture on the left. At the top of the incline will be a small unmarked trail Junction. 25 feet away is Geiger Point. It has excellent views of Leavitt's Peak, West Kill Mtn, and part of Spruceton Valley. The drop off the ledge is quite large, so don't fall off.
    view from Geiger Point on the Hunter Mountain loop
    The picture on the left is Geiger Point. Nice place for a break. After enjoying the view, continue to descend down the rocky trail for another 1.5 miles.
    diamond notch falls
    At mile post 7.04 (elev 2,380'), you will come to a Trail Junction.The picture on the left is this trail junction. Left will take you to Diamond Notch to Lanesville and West Kill Mountain. Also at this trail junction is West Kill Falls or sometimes called Diamond Notch Falls. Continuing straight will take you back to your car..
    west kill falls or diamond notch falls in the catskill mountains
    The picture on the left is West Kill Falls.

    After enjoying the Falls, continue down the trail. When you arrive at the end of the trail, you will see a parking lot. But, you still need to walk another 1/4 mile down the road to the parking lot for Hunter Mountain. Remember there are 3 parking lots.
    parking lot for westkill and diamond notch and leavitt
    This is the 3rd parking lot near the end of Spruceton Road. This parking lot is the smallest. If you parked in the Hunter Mountain parking lot, you need to walk another 1/4 mile down the road to get to your car.

    Links and References:
    CatskillMountain.com Forum - Ask questions, talk about your experience with this hike


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