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Wittenberg Mountain - Cornell Mountain from Woodland Valley

Slide Mountain

Overview of this Hike:

Distance: 8.85 miles from Woodland Valley and back.
Time: Average 6.75 hours round trip
Elevation Gain: 2,514 feet from Woodland Valley DEC parking lot.
Best Time to Hike: Morning.
Difficulty: Very Difficult
VO Map No: 55
Catskill Highest: 14 & 8
Peak Elevation: 3,784' and 3,868'
Digital Mapper: Topo Terrain Satellite
Attractions: Spectacular views from Wittenberg Mountain Ledge
Attractions: Famous John Burroughs Trail
Attractions: Bruins Causeway is very interesting (between Wittenberg and Cornell Mountains
Unattractions: Several difficult sections
Unattractions: Cornell Crack is very difficult and very unique
Unattractions: 3rd highest vertical climb in the Catskill Mountains
Unattractions: Cornell Mountain is now almost overgrown - very limited views
Common Animals: Bobcats, bears, coyotes
Risky Animals: Bears (Low)
Access Methods: Foot & snowshoe



Maps, Profile, and GPS files

Slide Mountain GPS map
Slide 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: - Elevation is approximately 1,354 feet
  • Take New York State Thruway to Exit 19 (Kingston).
  • Take a right out of the NYS Thruway toll booths onto Rt 28.
  • Go approximately 35.0 miles west on Rt 28
    (apporximately 1/2 to 3/4 miles past 2nd exit to Phoenicia on left side of road)
  • Take a left onto Woodland Valley Road (look for green sign)
  • Take a right after going over Esopus Creek (~1/2 mile from Rt 28)
  • Go apporximately 5 miles
  • The DEC Parking lot is on the RIGHT side of the road.
    (NOTICE: During the summer you must pay to park in this parking lot)



  • Notes about this Hike

    Hiking Wittenberg Mountain can be very busy during the weekend. The view from the ledge on Wittenberg Mountain is spectacular and the hike is in high demand in the Spring, Summer, and Fall. The hike can be done in the Winter with enough snow to fill in difficult sections. An ice axe, snowshoes, and crampons are recommended. The new DEC parking lot is very large. You must pay for parking in the Woodland Valley DEC parking lot. You pay at the booth to the Woodland Valley campgrounds. There is a new bridge over the Woodland Creek. It now has a 3 steel I beams supporting it. The climb in the beginning is moderate difficulty. After a 1/2 mile the climb becomes easy. There are some new sections of the trail that are very poorly marked, and many people get lost here. After the trail junction, the trail becomes very difficult. Some of the sections rival the Devil's Path. This hike would not be recommended for children. The ledge at the top of Wittenberg Mountain has a spectacular view of the Ashokan Reservoir.

    The hike from the peak of Wittenberg to Cornell is very unique. The path follows a very narrow ridge line at usually ranges from 10-to-50 feet wide. From time-to-time you can get limited views of the valley. Just before you reach Cornell Mountain, you will come to the Cornell Crack. Cornell Crack is very difficult and very unique. Most people like to take their pack off to climb the V-shape wedge crack. The rock is actually very grippy, which makes it much easier. Taller people find it easier then shorter people. But, both short and tall people can climb the Cornell Crack. The summit to Cornell Peak is just 400 feet past the Cornell Crack.

    If you are considering doing Slide Mountain, Cornell Mountain, and Wittenberg Mountain, we recommend that you start on Rt 47 instead of starting in Woodland Valley. The reason for this, is because the parking lot for Slide Mountain is at elevation of 2,433' where the parking lot in Woodland Valley is at elevation of 1,354'. Climbing the loop from Woodland valley adds 1,079' to your climb. Hiking the Slide, Cornell, and Wittenberg loop is a minimum of 9.44 miles, so reducing your elevation climb will make a big difference.

    It should be also noted that you cannot camp above 3,500' during the Fall, Summer, and Spring. You can camp above 3,500' from December 21 to March 21. The DEC does check for violators and will issue tickets to those violators. There are designated camping sections on the hike up Slide Mountain; In the col between Slide and Cornell Mountain; And, in the DEC Woodland Valley Campgrounds.


    Mile Stone Chart

    Mile PointAltitudeNotes
    0.001,335 DEC Parking Lot (Must pay to park during the Spring, Summer, and Fall)
    0.071,330 Walk down the bottom of the Parking Lot and down the Road. Take right off road. Look for sign of Trail Head.
    0.151,325' Cross Bridge over Woodland valley creek.
    0.331,546' After steep hill, you will find DEC Registration Box
    ~0.50~1,800 Steep grade levels off to a easier hike for the next 1.5 miles.
    2.392,683 Trail Junction. Go RIGHT.
    3.573,768 Peak of Wittenberg Mountain.
    4.203,786 Cornell Crack.
    4.283,848 Peak of Cornell Mountain. Return back on the same path
    5.003,768 Return to the summit of Wittenberg Mountain.
    6.212,683 Trail Junction. Take LEFT.
    8.851,371 Return back to DEC Parking Lot.

    Hike to Wittenberg and Cornell Mountains from Woodland Valley

    Slide Mountain
    The DEC Woodland Valley Parking Lot . While the parking lot is big (25 cars), it does fill up on the weekends. This parking lot is used to climb Terrance Mountain, Wittenberg Mountain, and Cornell Mountain. If you are to do the Slide-Cornell-Wittenberg Loop, you will want to park one of your cars here, and then drive to the Slide Mountain Parking lot on Rt 47.

    NOTICE: To park in this parking lot in the Spring, Summer, and Fall, you MUST pay to park here. You have to pay in the Woodland Valley campground, which is past the parking lot.

    If you walk across the street from the DEC message board, you will see this sign on the RIGHT which tells you to walk down the road to find the trail head for Terrance Mountain, Wittenberg Mountain, and Cornell Mountain.
    Slide Mountain
    Slide Mountain
    300 feet down the road, you will see the next sign showing where the trail head is. Follow the arrow.

    After you walk down the driveway, you will see the Trail Head sign on the RIGHT on the LEFT side of the driveway. If you follow the trail, it will bring you to the new bridge over Woodland Creek.
    Slide Mountain
    Slide Mountain
    The picture on the LEFT shows the bridge after you have crossed it. The bridge in the picture was put into service in November of 2009. The new bridge is now supported by 3 new I-beams.

    After you cross the bridge over Woodland Creek, the trail will turn to the left, and climb up a steep hill. The picture on the RIGHT show what the trail looks like. This trail will take you to Terrance Mountain, Wittenberg Mountain, and Cornell Mountain.
    Slide Mountain
    Slide Mountain
    At mile post 0.33 miles, you will arrive at the DEC registration box for Terrance Mountain, Wittenberg Mountain, and Cornell Mountain. After about 1/2 mile, the trail grade will level off and become easier.

    After it levels off, you will come to a series of ledges. The picture on the RIGHT is one of the ledges.
    Slide Mountain
    Slide Mountain
    This is another picture of the first set of ledges.

    The trail has been changed recently. So when you see an arrow, like the one on the RIGHT, please take it. It should be noted that after this arrow, you need to watch the trail very carefully. Many people get lost right here. It follows another ledge, and then take a right turn. Many people miss the right turn, and end up hanging on the edge of the ledge.
    Slide Mountain
    Slide Mountain
    This is a picture of the next set of ledges after the sharp right turn. It is a very nice ledge with some limited views.

    After this ledge, you will come across a number of small streams, like the one pictured on the RIGHT.
    Slide Mountain
    Slide Mountain
    The picture on the left side of the page is another stream.

    At mile post 2.39, you will come to a Trail Junction. Left will take you to Terrance Mountain, which does have a DEC Lean-To. Right will take you to Wittenberg Mountain and Cornell Mountain. You want to go RIGHT.

    When the leaves are not on the tree, you can see Samual's Point if you continued straight. This is an easy bushwack on fairly level ground. It is about 3 miles one way. There are some very good views of the Ashokan Reservoir from Samuals's Point. You should be an experienced bushwacker if you attempt this hike. Make sure you hike with a partner, and register your hike at the DEC registration box.
    Slide Mountain
    Slide Mountain
    After you leave the trail junction, the trail will be flat, but will start to increase in grade and difficulty. The picture on the Right shows the trail starting to increase in grade.
    Slide Mountain
    Shortly after leaving the Trail Junction, you will come to the first major difficult section. Most people climb up on the left side the tree by hanging onto the roots. There will be many more difficult sections to come before you reach the summit of Wittenberg Mountain.
    Slide Mountain
    Here are two more pictures of difficult sections of the trail from the Trail Junction to the summit of Wittenberg Mountain.
    Slide Mountain
    Slide Mountain
    You will go thru sections where the trail levels off and the trail becomes easier.

    But, this will not last very long. Again, here is another difficult section of the trail to Wittenberg Mountain.
    Slide Mountain
    Slide Mountain
    Here is another difficult section of the trail to Wittenberg Mountain

    When you start to get near the top, the trail will become easier. But, the trail will remain rocky.
    Slide Mountain
    Slide Mountain
    When you get very close to the top the trail will become easy, and the rocky trail will change to a nice walking trail
    Slide Mountain
    When you reach the summit of Wittenberg Mountain, you will see the spectacular view of the Ashokan Reservoir. From Wittenberg Mountain, you can see the entire length of the Ashokan Reservoir. The mountain below the ledge is Samual's Point.

    The summit of Wittenberg Mountain has a two step ledge. It is a fairly large ledge. It is not uncommon to have 25 people on the summit enjoying the view. It should be noted that the drop off the ledge is quite dramatic.
    Slide Mountain
    The trail from the summit of Wittenberg Mountain to Cornell Mountain starts out with a very easy grade. It will dip down in elevation before climbing up to the summit of Cornell Mountain.

    The path between Wittenberg and Cornell is a very narrow path which ranges from 10-50 feet wide. The side walls of the path are very steep. It has a name called Bruin's Causeway. After a good rain, you can often see animal tracks on this path. This particular track is from a Bobcat. They pose no danger to humans. Sometimes you can also find Bear tracks, hence the name Bruin's Causeway. Small animals that get caught on Bruin's Causeway usually end up trapped and easy prey for large predators..
    Slide Mountain
    Slide Mountain
    The trail will decend down in elevation, as you can see from the picture on the left. .

    There are sometimes some side trips to some interesting formations, like the one in the picture on the right.
    Slide Mountain
    Slide Mountain
    Here is another picture of some unusal climbs.

    The picture on the Right show Cornell Crack. The camera is tilted upward, so it is more difficult then the picture shows. The Cornell Crack as difficult as anything on the Devil's Path. The summit is 400 feet away. The Cornell Crack can be approached from either the left or right. Most people shimmy up the crack with their feet. The rock is quite grippy. There is a rock on top that you can use to pull yourself up with. I prefer to thru my backpack on top of the ledge before climbing up the Cornell Crack.
    Slide Mountain
    Slide Mountain
    400 feet after Cornell Crack is the summit of Cornell Mountain. The view is now obstructed, and is very limited. Years ago, the view was much better. There is also view points just past the peak that overlook Slide Mountain.
    Links and References:
    CatskillMountain.com Forum - Ask questions, talk about your experience with this hike
    DEC Information on the Slide Mountain Wilderness Area


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