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Blachead Mountain to Arizona Mtn to Dutcher's Notch

image of East Kill valley in the Catskill Mountains between Arizona Mountain and Dutcher's Notch

Overview of this Hike:

Distance: 7.44 mile trip from the DEC parking lot at Batavia Valley to Stork Nest Road off of Maple Lawn Road in Round Top.
Time: 4.5 hours (hiking time)
Elevation Gain: 1,945' gain from parking lot to Blackhead (2,010' to 3,955')
Elevation Loss: 2,751' loss from Blackhead to parking lot (3,955' to 1,204')
Best Time to Hike: Morning
Difficulty: Difficult
DEC Map: Blackhead
Catskill Highest: #4
Peak Elevation: 3,955'
Digital Mapper: Topo Terrain Satellite
Attractions: Many spectacular views from the summit of Blackhead to Dutcher's Notch.
Attractions: Barred Owls are sometimes seen around Dutcher's Notch in the Fall and Winter.
Attractions: Easy walk from the base of Blackhead Mtn to Dutcher's Notch.
Unattractions: Up and down Blackhead is steep. The trail near Dutcher's Notch is steep.
Unattractions: Trail down from Dutcher's Notch is very wet with running water after a good rain..
Unattractions: Very rocky road from Stork Nest Road to Dutcher's Notch.
Common Animals: Black bears, Owls, and deer.
Risky Animals: Rattlesnakes (none), Bears (high),
Access Methods: Foot and Snowshoeing.

Maps, Profile, and GPS files

topo map of hike from round top to dutchers notch to east kill falls
Click here to download the GPS file in gdb format (Garmin Version 3)

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

  • Take New York State Thruway to Exit 21 (Catskill).
  • Take a left out of the NYS Thruway entrance road.
  • Go approximately 1/4 mile
  • Take a right onto Route 23 West
  • Go approximately 10.7 miles on Rt 23 (past Cairo, NY and up the hill towards Windham)
  • Take a left onto Route 31 to Round Top, NY
  • Go approximately 3.7 miles on Rt 31
  • Take a RIGHT onto Maple Lawn Road
  • Go approximately 1.3 up Maple Lawn Road.
  • At the top of the hill take a LEFT onto Floyd Hawver Road.
  • Go approximately 200'
  • Take a RIGHT onto Stork Nest Road
  • Follow Stork Nest Road to the very end (0.6 miles)
  • Park on the left side - Do NOT go up the driveway.
  • Parking lot holds 5 cars.
  • GPS: N42 15.177 W74 03.199 for Parking Lot
  • Drop your first car off here.

  • Go back down to the bottom of Stork Nest Road
  • Take a LEFT onto Floyd Hawver Road - Go about 200'.
  • Take a RIGHT onto Maple Lawn Road - Go 1.3 miles until the 4-way Intersection
  • Take a LEFT onto Route 31 - Go approximately 3.7 miles
  • Take a LEFT onto Route 23 at the 4-way intersection
  • Go somewhere around 10.4 miles on Route 23.
  • Take a left onto County Rt 65 (Main Care Gas Station on Right - Condos on left).
  • Go approximately 0.7 miles on Route 65.
  • Take left onto Rt 65A.
  • Go approximately 0.3 miles on Rt 65A .
  • Continue Straight onto Rt 40 after stop sign.
  • Go approximately 1.8 miles on Rt 40.
  • Take a left onto Rt 56 (3-way intersection in Maplecrest).
  • Follow Rt 56 approximately 4.2 miles
  • Continue off the asphalt road to the gravel road until you reach the DEC parking lot. GPS: N42 17.334 W74 06.900
  • In the Winter you can park at the end of the road - BUT do NOT prevent snow plows from turning around at the end of the road!!!
  • Do NOT block driveway in the DEC parking lot. This goes to someones house.
  • Do NOT drive beyond the DEC parking lot. This is someones driveway.
  • Land around the DEC parking lot and the beginning of the trail is PRIVATE land. Please respect private landowners.

  • Mile Post Chart

    Mile PostAltitudeNotes
    0.002,010' Blackhead Parking lot. GPS: N42 17.334 W74 06.900
    0.002,010' DEC registration box is located at the Blackhead Parking Lot Kiosk.
    0.702,225' Trail Junction - Take a RIGHT.
    1.502,955' Good Water Source! Very reliable and ONLY water source for the next 3 miles.
    2.043,184' Trail Junction - Take a LEFT.
    2.693,955' Summit of Blackhead Mountain - No view from the summit
    3.863,461' Summit of Arizona Mtn
    4.963,155' Great views over the East Kill Valley - view is 100' off the trail
    5.552,557' Trail Junction - Dutcher's Notch - Take a LEFT
    7.441,204' End of hike - Parking Lot at the end of Stork Nest Road

    Notes about this Hike

    Parts of this route see very little traffic. The section between Blackhead Mountain Summit and Dutcher's Notch is rarely used. But, this section has some exceptional terrain. There is a nice 2 mile flat walk on a smooth trail. It is a very nice walk. In the Fall season, this is one of my favorite hikes.

    The Blackhead Parking Lot and the beginning of the trail is on Private Property. PLEASE respect the home owners.

    The hike over Blackhead Mountain is difficult and there is quite a bit of elevation gain. But, some of the views from Blackhead are excellent. The hike over Arizona Mountain is excellent. The view over the East Kill Valley is one of the best in the Catskill Mountains.

    At the end of this hike, you will be hiking 3/4 of a mile on private property and you will pass within 30' of some's private home. PLEASE respect the home owner.

    Hike to Blackhead Mountain to Arizona Mountain to Dutcher's Notch

    DEC Kiosk and registration for hiking the blackhead mountain range
    In the summer months you will park in the DEC designated Parking Lot. In the Winter months, the DEC PA is not plowed and you need to park near the snow plow turnaround. Do NOT block the ability of the snow plows to turnaround. They will tow your car if you do block their ability to turn around at the end of the road. Do not block the road above the DEC PA or the drive in the DEC PA. These are private driveways.

    You SHOULD register in the DEC Register. It is located in the Kiosk in DEC PA. The registraion book is vital for Search-and-Rescue in case you are injured or lost. A hiker died in 2010 because he didn't tell them where he was going.

    Walk UP the road. You will see the sign on the right. The trail will continue past this sign. The trail to Blackhead starts on the RIGHT side of the creek. There is a trail head to ACRA POINT. But, this trail head starts DOWN the road.
    Sign at the beginning of the hike to Blackhead mountain and black dome mountain
    The first bridge you will cross the batavia creek to blackhead mountain range
    After you walk pas the DEC sign the trail will change from a 10' wide road to a 4' wide rocky path. As you walk up the trail, the trail will move to the left side of the creek. This is the first bridge you will cross. Please stay on the trail. Parts of this trail are on private land.

    After walking up the left side the creek for a while, you will encounter another bridge. You will then move back to the right side of the creek until you reach the Trail Junction to Blackhead and Black Dome Mountains.
    The second bridge you will cross over the Batavia Creek to the trail junction to Blackhead mountain and black dome mountain
    Pretty section of batavia creek on the way to the blackhead mountain range
    After you cross the second bridge you will see a very pretty section of Batavia Creek. This particular spot is photographed often.

    A short distance after this pretty section you will encounter the Trail Jucntion to Blachead and Black Dome Mountains.
    The trail junction to the col between blackhead mountain and black dome mountain
    After you walk past the pretty section of Batavia Creek, you will come to a Trail Junction. This Trail Junction is about 7/10 of a mile from the Blachead DEC Parking Area. Straight will take to the Lean-To and the Northeast route to the summit of Blackhead Mountain. The Northeast Route is very steep. For this hike we will be taking the Northwest Route, which is easier. So you want to take a RIGHT at the Trail Junction.

    The col between Blackhead Mountain and Black Dome Mountain is called the Lockwood Gap.
    The trail junction to the col between blackhead mountain and black dome mountain
    trail from batavia creek to lockwood gap for the hike to blackhead mountain and black dome mountain
    The trail will start to get steeper. It is not real steep, but a steady uphill incline that seems to go on forever. There is a one creek that you will need to cross. After 5-10" of rain, the creek can be difficult to cross. Normally the creek is easy to cross.

    About 1.5 miles from the Blackhead parking lot there is a Water Spring. This is an excellent water source that never seems to dry up. If you need water for your trip, you need to collect it here.
    water source on the trail to Lockwood gap and blackhead and black dome mountains
    sign at Lockwood Gap between Blackhead Mountain and Black Dome Mountain
    At about 2 miles, you will arrive at Lockwood Gap. At Lockwood Gap there is a second Trail Junction. Right will take you to Black Dome Mountain. Left will take you to the summit of Blackhead Mountain. You want to take a LEFT.

    As you ascend up Blackhead Mountain, the view backwards is quite nice. About half way up the view of Black Dome Mountain will come into view if you take the time to turn around.
    View of Black Dome Mountain from North West Trail to Blackhead Mountain
    excellent view of black dome mountain from near the summit of Blackhead Mountain
    As you near the end of the steep climb up Blackhead Mountain, you will come to a new view point. The mountain in the distance is Black Dome Mountain. While you are done with most of the elevation gain to the summit of Blackhead Mountain, you still have about another 1/4 mile walk across the long summit to reach the official summit.
    stone tunnel at the base of arizona mountain near dutchers notch
    After about 2.7 miles you will reach the summit of Blackhead Mountain. There is no view from the official summit. Years ago, the summit was bare, and the views were spectacular. There is also a Trail Junction at the summit. Left will take you down the Northeast side of Blackhead Mountain. You want to continue to go STRAIGHT down the south side of Blackhead Mountain.

    After you continue straight, you will start to descend down the mountain. After a short distance you will encounter TWO view points. The first one is called Camp Steel. It is marked on the rock. The second view point is the best view point. In the picture on the right is the long ridge walk from Blackhead to Dutcher's Notch. It is a beautiful 2 mile flat walk across the ridge of the Eastern Escarpment. Many consider it magical.
    View of Arizona Mountain Ridge Walk from the summit of Blackhead Mountain
    second view point on the sout side of the Blackhead mountain summit with views of Acra Point and the Hudson River and Arizona Mountain
    This is the view from the second view point looking North. In the distance you can see Acra Point and the nice ridge walk of the Eastern Escarpment from Blackhead to Acra Point to Burnt Knob.
    Rock Hallway at the base of Blackhead Mountain that marks the entrance to the flat walk across the Arizona Ridge
    After you get done soaking up the beautiful views from the 2nd view point on the south side the Blackhead Mountain Ridge, you will then start to descend the south face of Blackhead Mountain. The descent is quite rapid, so you need to exercise a little caution on your trip down. Some people might be a little intimidated by the steep descent. But, if you take your time, you will find a doable path down the trail.

    As you approach the bottom, the rate of descent will decrease. When you get near the very bottom you will see this beautiful rock hallway. Once you pass through the Rock Hallway, the trail will become flat for the next two miles. There will be several slight inclines or declines, but the trail is pretty much flat. It is a beautiful walk across this part of the Eastern Escarpment. Especially, in the Fall when the leaves are changing.
    view of Acra Point from the south base of Blackhead Mountain on your way to arizona mountain
    Shortly after you start the flat section of this hike, you will encounter a view point. The picture on the left shows the view. The mountain in the background is Acra Point.
    typical view of the 2 mile long ridge walk across Arizona Mountain
    This is what the long hike across the Arizona Mountain ridge looks like. It is mainly a deciduous forest. Arizona Mountain at one time burned leaving a stark landscape. Hence the name of the mountain.

    There are a few short sections of conifer forest. But, they don't last long.
    small conifer forest section on the hike to arizona mountain
    summit picture of Arizona Mountain with a view of Blackhead Mountain in the background
    It is hard to realize when you have reached the summit of Arizona Mountain. There is a small grass section with stones dotting the trail. When you find the stones in the path you have reach the summit of Arizona Mtn. If you turn around, you will see Blackhead Mountain in the distance. There are no spectacular view points from the summit.

    As you move further south of Arizona Mountain summit, the forest will stay the same. While this flat section goes for miles, do not be fooled the steep side walls of this ridge. The east and west walls of this path are incredibly steep. Enjoy the easy hike across this beautiful ridge of the Eastern Escarpment.
    view of the path south of arizona mountain but before dutcher's notch
    view of the hudson valley from the view point just south of Arizona Mountain in the Catskill Mountains
    After hiking a distance down the trail between Arizona Mountain and Dutcher's Notch, you will come to another view point. This view point is mainly overlook the Hudson River Valley. After this view point, the trail will move slightly southwest.
    conifer forest between arizona mountain and the view point over East Kill Valley
    The forest will change from a deciduous forest to a conifer forest for a period of time.

    Near the end of the conifer forest section, you will go down a slight decline in elevation. Nothing significant, but it marks where the forest will change back to deciduous forest, and you will encounter a spectacular view point of the East Kill Valley.
    conifer forest between Arizona mountain and the view point over East Kill Valley
    view point of the East Kill Valley
    This important view point is about 100-150' off the trail. Worth every step on a beautiful clear day. Make sure you stop and catch the views. The rock in the picture is a good place to stop and rest, or eat lunch.
    view point for the east kill valley with views of Colgate Lake and Capra Lake from the Eastern Escarpment
    This is one of the views from this particular view point. The view is over the East Kill Valley. In the distance you can see Capra Lake and get a glimpse of Colgate Lake. You probably cannot camp at this rock. It is probably not 150' off the trail, as required by the NYS DEC. But, you can move along the rim to find a good spot to camp. But, remember there is NO water here.
    steep trail down into Dutcher's Notch from Arizona Mountain in the Catskill Mountains
    After you leave the great view point over the East Kill Valley, you will come to a point where the trail will descend steeply in elevation into Dutcher's Notch.

    After you get past the steepest part of descent towards Dutcher's Notch, there is a place called the Stone Tunnel (pictured on the right). It is located in a difficult rock section. There are two ways through this section. So, it is possible that you can miss the Stone Tunnel. After the Stone Tunnel the trail becomes easy hiking.
    Stone Tunnel above Dutcher's Notch
    Dutcher's Notch on the Escarpment Trail between Arizona Mountain and Stoppel Point
    When you get to the bottom of the notch in the Eastern Escarpment, you will be at Dutcher's Notch. There is a 4-way Trail Junction. Straight will take you to Stoppel Point and North-South Lake and the Southern part of the Escarpment Trail. Right will take you to Colgate Lake. About 3/4 of a mile down this trail to Colgate Lake is a camp site and a small waterfall. Left will take you to Stork Nest Road where your car is parked. You want to take a LEFT down the hill.
    the beginning of the hiking trail from Dutcher's Notch down to Stork Nest Road
    The beginning of the trail from Dutcher's Notch down to Stork Nest Road. This trail is the old Cairo and East Kill Turnpike built around 1836. The DEC turned it into a hiking trail in the early 1970's. The old turnpike is quite rocky and has severe erosion. Parts of the trail have been diverts slightly.

    About 1/4 mile down the trail is a water spring. During some summers it will dry up. It is easy to miss, so pay attention if you need water.
    water spring between Dutcher's Notch and Stork Nest Road
    DEC land boundary sign showing the end of Public land and the beginning of private land between dutcher's notch and stork nest road
    You should see this sign about 1-1/4 miles down from Dutcher's Notch, and 3/4 of a mile before the parking lot at the end of Stork Nest Road. From this point forward the land you are walking on is private property. Stay on the Trail.

    When you cross this little bridge you will see the DEC registration box. Since you signed in at the Blackhead Parking lot, you do not need to sign out here. At this point you are about 2/10 of a mile from the parking lot at the end of Stork Nest Road
    DEC registration box for Stork Nest Road
    Parking lot for hike to Dutcher's Notch
    This is the DEC Parking Lot where your second car is parked. The hike is over.
    Links and References: Forum - Ask questions or tell us about your experience with this hike

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