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Indian Head Mountain

Indian Head Mountain

Overview of this Hike:

Distance: 6.16 miles round trip from DEC parking lot from Preditor Road and back to the parking lot.
Time: Average 4.75 hours round trip
Elevation Gain: 1,515 feet from parking lot to the summit of Indian Head Mountain.
Best Time to Hike: Morning.
Difficulty: Very Difficult and Dangerous
VO Map No: 22 & 21
Catskill Highest: #30
Peak Elevation: 3,573'
Digital Mapper: Topo Terrain Satellite
Attractions: Beautiful views from the east side of Indian Head Mountain
Attractions: Challenging! Bragging rites that you did part of the Devil's Path.
Unattractions: Difficult climb up a 30-50' shear wall by hanging onto roots
Unattractions: Difficult climb up cork-screw chimney climb
Unattractions: Challenging and dangerous!
Unattractions: There are no views from the summit of Indian Head Mountain.
Dangers: Falling off mountain.
Common Animals: Black bears, Coyotes, birds.
Risky Animals: Rattlesnakes (Low), Bears (Moderate), Mountain Lions (low)
Access Methods: Foot only



Maps, Profile, and GPS files

Indian Head Mountain GPS map
Indian Head Mountain 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 08.042 W74 06.261 - Elevation is approximately 2,000 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 9 miles to Tannersville NY.
  • At the only RED LIGHT, take a LEFT onto Rt 16 (platteclove road)
  • Go approximately 5.7 miles on Rt 16 (Platteclove Road)
  • Take a RIGHT onto Prediger Road
  • Go approximately 1/2 mile - When you come to the end of the road, take dirt road to the DEC parking lot



  • Special Circumstances about this Hike

    This hike is part of the Devil's Path. The Devil's Path is one of the most difficult and dangerous hiking paths in the world. There is a good reason why they call it the Devil's Path. The most difficult part of the path is a 30-50 foot vertical climb up a nearly shear cliff, where you will have to use small tree roots to be able to climb it. Another section has a 10 foot cliff called a "chimney". They have a tree in the middle of the chimney. You have to worm your self around the tree to ascend or descend around it. It is actually easier then it looks. But, it is challenging! There is another part of the path that walks along a shear cliff. There are scrub conifer trees on the very edge of the cliff. Some people are not even aware of the cliff. But, if you tripped and fell thru the trees, you would fall to your death. It seems that someone dies on the Devil's Path each year. Either from a fall or a heart attack. It is dangerous and difficult. No other way to describe it. You better be a skilled hiker who is in good shape. If you are scared of heights, you might not want to do this trail. I do not recommend this trail for children or animals.



    Mile Stone Chart

    Mile PointAltitudeNotes
    0.002,000 DEC Parking Lot at the very end of Prediger Road. GPS: N42 08.042 W74 06.261
    0.262,052 Trail Junction - Take RIGHT.
    1.913,047' Jimney Nolan Notch (col). Right will take you to Twin Mountain and Sugarloaf Mountain. Straight will take you to a view point. Left will take you to the summit of Indian Head Mountain. Take a LEFT.
    2.313.515' Summit of Indian Head Mountain - NO view points.
    2.403,494 Views.
    2.803,380 Specacular view from Hanging Ledge. 50' cliff to descend after ledge (hardest part of hike). Cork Screw Chimney just before ledge. About 1/4 mile later you will get another great view that was cut years ago. More views after this one.
    4.442,259 Trail Junction. (Devil's Path and Overlook trail). Right will take you to Echo Lake and Indian Head Mountain. Take a LEFT.
    4.512,245 Trail Junction. LEFT will take you back to your car via the bike trail. Straight will take you to Rt 16. East to miss this trail junction.
    5.902.163 Trail Junction. Continue STRAIGHT.
    6.162,111 DEC Parking Lot at the very end of Prediger Road.

    Hike to Indian Head Mountain

    Indian Head Mountain
    The picture on the left is the DEC parking lot (new in 2009) for this hike. The parking lot was changed in 2009 from the end of Prediger Road to about 1/4 mile inside the forest. In the past many people had parked in the road, and blocked the homeowners driveway, and made their life miserable. Please Note: The land around the one-way dirt road to the DEC parking lot is PRIVATE LAND! Do not trespass on this land. It is a very large parking lot. This parking lot can probably hold 25 cars.

    Indian Head Mountain
    The image on the RIGHT shows the trailhead.

    The picture on the LEFT shows you what the trail looks like in the beginning of the hike. In the beginning, the trail is very mellow.
    Indian Head Mountain
    Indian Head Mountain
    At mile post 0.26, you will encounter the Picture on the RIGHT. This is the Trail Junction. Straight will take you to the Overlook Carriage Road Trail. RIGHT will take you to the col of Indian Head Mountain and Twin Mountains. Go RIGHT..

    From the parking lot, the trail is just about level. As you ascend up the mountain, the trail will get steeper-and-steeper. Just before the col (Indian Head Mtn & Twin Mtn) the trail gets fairly steep. You will need to use your hands to help you climb the steep trail. From the DEC parking lot to the Jimmy Dolan Notch you will climb a 1,000' vertical climb.
    Indian Head Mountain
    Indian Head Mountain House
    At mile post 1.91, you will encounter the Picture on the RIGHT. This is Jimny Dolan Notch. This is the Trail Junction. Straight will take you to a view point. Right will take you to Twin & Sugarloaf Mtns. LEFT will take you to Indian Head Mtn. Go LEFT.

    Now you will be on the Devil's Path. This entire path is difficult. There is nothing easy about this path. It has every possible kind of difficult hiking obstacle. Dangerous cliffs, big rocks to climb, cliffs to climb, deep mud, chimneys, loose rocks, trees, slippery rocks, moss covered rocks, water running over the path, etc. You will swear that only the devil could make a trail this difficult.
    Indian Head Mountain
    From the Jimny Dolan Notch to the summit of Indian Head Mountain you will climb another 500' vertical climb. Most of the climb is just steep. There are a number of large boulders in the path that you have to climb around. Some of the rocks are wet and slippery. There are sections that have loose shale and rocks.

    The picture on the LEFT is the only obstacle that is fairly challenging on the ascent to Indian Head summit. While the picture looks terrible, this particular obstacle really isn't that bad. There seems to be a good number of places to get a good grip. You will find a lot of flies around this obstacle. This is a kill zone for coyotes of small animals.

    At about elevation of 3,425' you will see the 3,500' DEC sign telling you that you cannot camp above 3,500' during the summer.
    Indian Head Mountain
    At mile marker 2.31, you will be at the summit. The trail levels off near the summit. You can pass the peak easily. A 2' drop in the trail is the top. NO views from the summit.

    The picture on the LEFT shows the trail by the summit. At mile post 2.40, you will come to the ONLY view from the peak of Indian Head Mountain. You will find more views further down the trail.
    Indian Head Mountain
    Indian Head Mountain
    The picture on the LEFT is the "Cork Screw Chimney". While the picture looks terrible, it is easier to descend then it looks. The best way to descend it is to worm your way under the log from the top. You have to twist your body like a cork screw to descend it easily. If you have a back pack or fanny pack, you need to remove it first and drop it below.

    At mile post 2.80, and just after the Cork Screw Chimney, you will come a hanging ledge called, "Shermans Outlook". It is a nice 15 x 15' ledge. Many people like to have lunch here. Very nice views to the east from this ledge. Just below the ledge is the hardest part of the hike.
    Indian Head Mountain
    Indian Head Mountain
    Just below the Sherman's Outlook, is the most difficult part of the hike. It is a 30-50' wall that you need to descend by hanging onto roots. The wall is not vertical, but you absolutely cannot walk down it. The descent is worse then it looks in the picture. The camera was tilted up when the picture was taken, so the wall is steeper then the picture shows.

    I find it is easier to descend then to ascend. But, everyone has a different opinion. Just take your time. There are a lot of small roots (1" in diameter) that are strong. If you are scare of heights, you will find the descent nerve racking.
    Indian Head Mountain
    At mile post 3.00 you will come to the first great view during this hike. As you can see from the picture on the RIGHT the view is spectacular. It is not hard to sit here for an hour soaking up the views.

    This view has created controversy. This view was created many years ago when the view was created by cutting out some trees. Some feel that the view is worth it, while other believe that the trees should not have been cut. This cutout also helped Warblers breed here. If you stay rest here for a 1/2 hour, you will see many warblers flying in-and-out. Warblers fly very fast, so watch carefully.
    Indian Head Mountain
    After you continue further, you will come along a section of the trail that is narrow and has small conifer trees on the right side. This is actually a ledge with a 100' cliff. Just do not decide to walk off the right side of the trees. After you continue and climb down further, you will come to another section that has a number of nice views over the valley.

    Above is one of the great panoramic views you will see on this section. The picture above shows one of the better views. On the left is the Bruderhof. Then further right is Huckleberry Point. Just below Huckleberry Point is Platte Clove. On the right of the picture is Plattekill Mountain.

    From here, you will start to descend down the mountain to the Overlook Carriage Road.
    Indian Head Mountain
    At mile post 4.44 you will come to a Trail Junction of the Overlook Carriage Road. Right will take you to Overlook Mtn and Echo Lake. LEFT will take you to Platte Clove. Go LEFT. At mile post 4.51 you will come to another Trail Junction. This trail on the LEFT side of the trail is the DEC Bicycle Trail. Straight will take you to Platte Clove. LEFT will take you down the DEC bicycle trail and back to your car. Go LEFT.
    Plattekill Mountain
    Indian Head Mountain
    The Bicycle Trail is a strange trail for mountain bikes. When wet, it is extremely muddy. Lots of exposed roots. Not a particularly good trail for bikes. But, it is fairly level. The trail does pass over a stream, and has a stone bridge built over it. You can see it on the picture on the LEFT.

    At mile post 5.90 you will come to another Trail Junction. You passed this trail junction at the beginning of your hike. You have now completed the complete Indian Head Loop. You are now 1/4 mile away from your car. Continue STRAIGHT back to your car another 1/4 mile away.
    Plattekill Mountain
    Links and References:
    CatskillMountain.com Forum - Ask questions, talk about your experience with this hike

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