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Kaaterskill High Peak (North Access) - Catskill Mountains

Kaaterskill High Peak

Overview of this Hike:

Distance: Approximately 8.23 miles round trip from DEC parking lot to Kaaterskill High Peak and back.
Time: Average 5 hours round trip
Elevation Gain: 1,775 feet from parking lot to highest point in hike.
Best Time to Hike: Anytime.
Difficulty: Difficult
VO Map No: 26, unmarked, 98, & 27
Catskill Highest: #22
Peak Elevation: 3,655'
Digital Mapper: Topo Terrain Satellite
Side Trips: Huckleberry Trail, Two plane crashes, south access route down
Attractions: Beautiful 180 degrees views to the south from Hurricane Ledge.
Attractions: 2 plane crashes, Mohawk Indian camp, Amphitheater Overlook
Attractions: Can bag Round Top or Huckleberry Point in same hike
Unattractions: Long Path and Snowmobile Loop Trails are both muddy (even when it is dry).
Unattractions: Small Children not recommended - experienced hikers only
Dangers: Be careful near Hurricane ledge in high winds. It got it's name for a reason.
Dangers: A mountain lion was spotted on Rt 214, and we have seen mountain lion tracks on this trail in February of 2009!
Common Animals: Coyotes, bears, bobcats.
Risky Animals: Rattlesnakes and Copperheads (none known), Bears (Moderate), Mountain Lions (Low)
Access Methods: Foot, snowshoe, ski, and snowmobile (part way).



Maps, Profile, and GPS files

Catskill Mountains Kaaterskill Huckleberry Point GPS
Catskill Mountains Kaaterskill Huckleberry Point Profile
Click here to download the GPS file in text format
Click here to download the GPX file in GPS Exchange format
Click here to download the GPS file in Garmin format



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

  • GPS Coordinates to DEC Parking Lot: N42 08.020 W74 04.962 - Elevation is approximately 1872 feet
  • Take New York State Thruway to Exit 21 (Catskill).
  • Take a left out of the NYS Thruway entrance road.
  • Go approximately 1/2 mile
  • Take a right onto Route 23 West
  • Go approximately 5 miles on Route 23.
  • Take a left onto Rt 32 (McDonalds on corner).
  • Go approximately 7-8 miles on Route 32.
  • Take right onto Rt 23A.
  • Go approximately 7-8 miles on Rt 23A .
  • When you come into Tannersville, take LEFT at the red light onto RailRoad Ave (Rt 16), which will turn into Spruce Street, which will turn into Platt Clove Road. Follow this road approximately 7-8 miles
  • The DEC parking lot is on the LEFT side of the road.
  • It is approximately 1/2 mile past Josh Road (on left side of the road).
  • If you start to go down the hill to the valley, then you have gone too far. The downhill section of the road is closed in the winter.
  • Do NOT block the gate entrance - there is a house at the end of this road.
  • Do NOT drive up the dirt entrance road to the trail head - this is PRIVATE property - AND there is NO place to park or turn around once you get to the trail head.



  • Special Circumstances about this Hike

    The first part of the hike goes up a private road with a conversation easement. You should not leave the road until you get to the road/trail junction. The trail from the Long Path to the Snowmobile Loop is a "Bushwack Trail". While you can easily see the trail, it is not marked. Once you get to the camp, everyone moves the final distance in different directions.



    Mile Stone Chart

    Mile PointAltitudeNotes
    0.001,872 DEC Parking Lot. N42 08.020 W74 04.962
    0.872,366 Road & Trail Junction - On Right side of road - easy to miss this junction - N42 08.553 W74 04.467.
    1.002,412' Trail Junction - Left goes to Kaaterskill High Peak - Right goes to Huckleberry Point - N42 08.544 W74 04.325
    2.242,977' Trail Junction - This is a short cut trail (NON-DEC trail) to the Snowmobile Loop Trail. It will save you about 2 miles. As soon as you stop climbing in elevation, start looking for a faint trail on the left. It will have a small rock cairn next to it. N42 09.502 W74 04.006 . After several hundred feet, you will come to a round circle of about 150' in diameter. This is the old Mohawk Indian Camp. Continue up the hill (rock cairns at top of hill). Then continue walking until you hit the Snowmobile Loop Trail. You will have to bushwack from the Indian camp to the Loop trail (Several hundred feet).
    2.333,017 Trail Junction - Left will take you to the South Access route to KHP. RIGHT will take you to the North Access route to KHP. Go RIGHT.
    3.143,030 Trail Junction - Right will take you back to the Long Path. STRAIGHT will take you to KHP. Go STRAIGHT.
    3.203,043 Trail Junction - Left will take you up the North Access route to KHP. Go LEFT.
    3.663,655 Kaaterskill High Peak (top of mountain)
    3.913,460 Hurricane Ledge. You can continue on further to the top of the mountain, but there is NO view. If the ascent scared you, you can descend down the north side which is much easier.
    4.163,655 Kaaterskill High Peak (top of mountain)
    4.723,043 Trail Junction - Left will take you to the Cortina. RIGHT will take you back to your car. Go RIGHT.
    4.783,030 Trail Junction - Right will take you back to the Long Path. STRAIGHT will take you to KHP. Go STRAIGHT.
    4.902,900 Trail Junction - Left will take you to Palenville. Right will take you back to your car. Go RIGHT.
    5.992,977 Trail Junction - Right will take you to the Mohawk Indian Camp. Continue STRAIGHT down the trail.
    7.232,412' Trail Junction - Left goes to Huckleberry Point. Go RIGHT. - N42 08.544 W74 04.325
    7.362,366 Road & Trail Junction - Go LEFT down the road. GPS: N42 08.553 W74 04.467.
    8.231,872 DEC Parking Lot. N42 08.020 W74 04.962

    Hike to Kaaterskill High Peak (North Access)

    Kaaterskill High Peak
    The image on the LEFT is the DEC Parking Lot with off-road parking. You want to walk thru this metal gate and up the Road. The Owner of the road closes the gate at sunrise and sunset. If the gate is closed, you can walk around it. Do NOT drive up the road, even if you have a 4WD truck. There is NO place to park near the trail head.

    The image on the RIGHT shows the road you will be walking up. Please do not venture off the road. Most of the land (but, not all) off the road is PRIVATE property. There is a nesting Bobcat in the region (not dangerous). In the winter, you will see hundreds of bobcat prints (you CANNOT hunt here). We have also seen credible Mountain Lion prints on this hike. If you see a Mountain Lion, absolutely do NOT approach them. They are very dangerous! Bobcats come out near dusk and dawn. There are also coyotes in the area.
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    The Picture on the LEFT shows a 'Y' in the road. Stay on the main road and go RIGHT. The path on the left will take you to private property.

    The picture on the RIGHT shows the very little sign that signals that you need to leave the road for the Trail Head. 50% of the people who hike this trail for the first time miss the Trail Head. If you follow the road up further, you will see signs telling you to turn around. Look for the sign on the RIGHT side of the road.
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    The picture on the LEFT show a picture of the trail after the Trail Head

    The picture on the RIGHT shows the next Trail Junction. It is only a short distance from the Trail Head. If you go LEFT, you will go to Kaaterskill High Peak, the Snowmobile Loop Trail, Indian Camp, Ampetheater Lookout, Poet's Ledge, Twilight Park, Long Path. If you go RIGHT, you will head to Huckleberry Point.
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    The beginning of the trail is flat. The picture on the LEFT show what the trail looks like.

    You will walk over two small streams. There is also a small section that is very wet.
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    As the trail starts to turn slightly west, the trail will start to ascend upward.

    Once the trail starts to level off, start looking for an ancient faint trail used by the Mohawk Indians. This is a non-DEC trail. The access to the trail will be on your LEFT.
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    After several hundred feet, you will encounter an old Mohawk Indian Camp.

    From the Indian camp you need to walk of the hill (Stone Cairns at the top). Once you get to the top of the hill, the established path will end. You will need to bushwack about 500 feet until you reach the Snowmobile trail. You want to continue in approximately the same direction. If you do it correctly, you will come out just north of the plane crash. Once you get to the Snowmobile Trail, take a RIGHT to take the North Access route to KHP.
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    The snowmobile loop trail is muddy! It has a reputation to be muddy even during the driest summers. Expect to walk thru lots of thick and deep mud. The south side seems to have slightly less mud.

    Shortly after you start walking down the snowmobile loop trail, you will come upon the first plane wreak on Kaaterskill High Peak. This plane crash occured on June 25, 1987. It was a cargo plane. Like most plane crashes in the Catskills, the pilot was flying VFR on a dark cloudy night. Two passengers were on board, and both were killed. GPS N42 9.512 W74 4.255 . On Geocashing.com use "Air Crash 1".
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    Not only is the snowmobile trail muddy, but it has a lot of vegetation as you can see in the LEFT picture.

    You will come to a trail junction. Going down the hill will take you back to the Long Path. You want to continue STRAIGHT.

    The trail junction for the North Access to Kaaterskill High Peak is marked with a small rock Cairn.
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    The north access trail has three difficult sections. The picture on the left shows one of those sections. The section is not as difficult as it looks.

    The picture on the RIGHT shows the top of a steep climb. When you approach this section, the obvious path is on the right of this picture. It is a steep mossy rock ledge. The best path is actually the mud path on the left of this picture. Then walk across the top of the root base of the tree.
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    After the third ledge, the trail will level off. The picture on the left is is the nice mossy trail above the third ledge.

    The picture on the RIGHT shows another picture of the beautiful path near the top of the mountain.
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    This is the peak of Kaaterskill High Peak Mountain. There are no longer any views from the very top. But, you will have spectacular views from Hurricane Ledge. Hurricane Ledge is 1/4 mile past the peak (south).

    There are two USGS markers about 30 feet from the peak. The trail to the left (from the north access) will take you to plane crash #2 and USGS marker #2. The trail to the right will take you to USGS marker #1, and Hurricane Ledge.

    If you look around, you can see that there was a building at the summit. The building was a 2-story building that was built in the late 1800's. It was taken down around 1921 when New York State purchased the Kaaterskill Mountain Range. About an acre of land was cleared for the building.

    While the Mohawk Indians used KHP for thousands of years, the first European to ascend KHP was Peter delaBigarre (and a companion) on July 26, 1793. Up to the 1870's KHP was believed to be the highest peak in the Catskills. Princeton geography professor Arnold Henry Guyot brought equipment up to the Catskills and started to measure the peaks. He determined that KHP was actually the 23rd highest. His finding upset the hotels in the Kaaterskill Clove who used this fact to attract visitors.
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    The picture on the LEFT is a picture of the trail to Hurricane Ledge.

    The picture on the RIGHT shows the summit. The trail to the left (east) will take you to a plane crash The plane is 495 feet east of the peak. The GPS of the plane crash is reported to be at GPS position: N 42 9.734 W 74 4.829. On geocashing.com it is "Air Crash 3". The plane crash occured on May 26, 1983. It killed a Watertown man named Rex Miller. He flew his Piper-28-140 into the mountain at about 3,400 feet in bad weather while attempting to return home from Poughkeepsie. Again, he was flying NVR. The crankshaft to the plane laid next to one of the trails (about 100' from the peak) from 1983 to 2008. Then in the Fall of 2008 someone removed it.

    There is also a faint trail that heads west of the peak. This trail will take you down a gentle slope on the North side of Round Top Mountain, and will come out near the Snowmobile trail near Cortina Ski Center. This trail was used for hundreds of years as the primary path to the top of Kaaterskill High Peak. It is actually the easist path to the top, but is rarely used. We believe that the trail fell out a favor when the DEC built the snowmobile trail. We also believe that the access to the western trail entrance got cut off at Clum Hill Road. Now that the DEP has put in parking on Clum Hill Road, this trail might become very popular again.
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    The picture on the LEFT is USGS marker #1. It is about 30 feet south of the peak on the path to Hurricane Ledge.

    The picture on the RIGHT is USGS marker #2. It is about 30 feet east (and slightly south) of the peak. It is location on top of a dome shaped rock. When you approach the peak from the north access route, take a left. Then take a right. The marker is about 10-15 feet inside the trees.
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    The path to Hurricane Ledge has a number of side trails that will give you nice view. But, Hurricane Ledge will give you the best views.

    This is Hurricane Ledge. It is 0.25 miles from the peak. There are several places on Hurricane Ledge that will provide you with spectacular views. The trail to the South Ascent is on the left side of this picture. This ledge was caused by a storm on or about November 28, 1950, which had winds in excess of 100 mph. Ironically, there was another Hurricane Ledge created on the north eastern side of the peak at the beginning of the 1900's. It may have been created by one of the storms on November 8-10, 1913 or October 22-25, 1923.

    If you want to take the very steep and dangerous south access route back down to the Loop trail, you just need to move to the very left side of this ledge to find the trail.
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    This is another part of Hurricane Ledge. On this ledge is several places you can get spectacular view. This picture is of the Hudon Valley. You can see the Hudson River in the valley.
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    This is Hurricane Ledge. On this ledge is several places you can get spectacular view. This picture is of the Indian Head Mountain Range.

    Reverse your course back to the KHP peak and go back down the North Access path
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    The picture on the LEFT is the crossover path from the Snowmobile Loop Trail to the Long Path. This crossover path is just east of the North Access Trail to Kaaterskill High Peak. Take a LEFT here down the Crossover path. The crossover path was created when they put in the Snowmobile Loop Trail. The crossover path used to continued from the North Access Trail Junction down to the Long Path. Not sure why they changed it.

    The picture on the RIGHT is the sign at the bottom of the Crossover Path. This will put you on Long Path back to the DEC Parking Lot in Devil's Kitchen. Take a RIGHT.
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    The picture on the LEFT is what the Long Path looks like in the beginning.

    The picture on the RIGHT is what the path looks like further down towards the turn around Amphitheater Overlook and near the Indian Camp Path. This path is not any better then the Snowmobile Loop. Both are muddy!
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    Links and References:
    CatskillMountain.com Forum - Ask questions or tell us about your experience with this hike
    Plane Crashes in the Catskill Mountains

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