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Kaaterskill High Peak (South Access) - Catskill Mountains

Kaaterskill High Peak

Overview of this Hike:

Distance: Approximately 7.32 miles round trip from DEC parking lot to Hurricane Ledge (south) on Kaaterskill High Peak and back. It is approximately 8 miles round trip if you continue to the top of KHP.
Notes: Taking the South access is harder, and 1/4 mile longer then taking the north access
Time: Average 5 hours round trip
Elevation Gain: 1,750 feet from parking lot to highest point in hike.
Best Time to Hike: Anytime.
Difficulty: Very Difficult and very dangerous
VO Map No: 26, unmarked, 98, & 27
Catskill Highest: #22
Peak Elevation: 3,655'
Digital Mapper: Topo Terrain Satellite
Attractions: Beautiful 180 degrees views to the south from Hurricane Ledge.
Attractions: 2 plane crashes, Indian camp, Amphitheater Overlook
Attractions: Can bag Round Top or Huckleberry Point in same hike
Unattractions: Final ascent is extremely steep - almost need climbing gear - Steepest and hardest hike in the Catskills.
Unattractions: If you are afraid of heights use north access
Unattractions: Children and pets not recommended - experienced hikers only
Dangers: Falling off climb from snowmobile trail to Hurricane Ledge.
Dangers: Do NOT attempt in high winds - Hurricane ledge 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 (final ascent is difficult in winter - need ax & ropes & guts), 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 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.



    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
    2.312,977' 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 passing the old Mohawk Indian camp by about 500 feet, you will come to the Loop trail near the plane crash. You will have to bushwack from the Indian camp to the Loop trail (about 500').
    3.343,040 Trail Junction - Right up the steep south ascent to Hurricane Ledge on KHP. Look for a very large rock cairn by the entrance.
    3.663,460 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.
    3.913,460 Kaaterskill High Peak.

    Hike to Kaaterskill High Peak (South 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. There is a small rock cairn next to the trail entrance.
    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 LEFT to take the South Access route
    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.

    The trail junction for the South Access to Kaaterskill High Peak is marked with a very large Cairn.
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    This is what the beginning of the South Access Trail looks like. It is a non-DEC trail that has existed for hundreds of years. The further up the trail you go, the more dangerous it becomes. It continued to get steeper-and-steeper.

    The picture on the RIGHT shows what the trail looks like just below Hurricane Ledge. It is very steep and dangerous. If you fall here, you will be injured and possibly killed. You need to hang onto the roots to climb up. It is NOT recommended for children or animals. You should be an experienced hiker to climb this route. We also recommend that you climb here with a partner.
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    This is Hurricane Ledge. There are several places on Hurricane Ledge (south access side) you can get spectacular view. The trail 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.
    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.
    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.
    Kaaterskill High Peak
    After Hurricane Ledge the trail has an easy ascent towards the summit.

    The picture on the RIGHT shows the summit. There is no longer a view from the summit. 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 in the 1920's. About an acre of land was cleared for the building. There is a faint trail that goes east. About 100 feet you will see the crankshaft of a plane crash. The rest of the plane is 495 feet east of the peak. The GPS of the plane crash is 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. 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. Now that the DEP has put in parking on Gillipsie Road, this trail might become the most popular in years to come.
    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
    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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