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Hiking in Catskill Park

Blackhead
Range

Black Dome, Thomas Cole
and Blackhead

 

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The Blackhead Range is made up of the third, fourth, and fifth highest mountains in the Catskills:  Black Dome (3990 feet), Blackhead (3940 feet), and Thomas Cole (3940 feet).  The Range is located in the northern Catskills (north of Hunter Mt) in Greene County. 

Summary: This 9.4 mile out and back hike takes you through the Blackhead Range. The area got its name because when viewed from a distance the tops of the peaks appear Black due to the spruce/Balsam Summits. The hike starts out on the red marked Black Dome Trail aka the Blackhead Range Trail. There is an overall elevation gain of over 2700 feet for this strenuous hike.

Park at the trailhead on Barnum Road at the end of the road. The GPS coordinates for parking area is N42 15.821 W74 10.594 for those who have a GPS devise in their vehicle. Find the red-blazed Black Dome Trail aka Blackhead Range Trail that follows an old road for about 0.5 miles. Turn left off the road and register for the hike. Follow the red trail which climbs steadily for 1.6 miles over two hills named Caudal and Camel's Hump. On the way up the Caudal there is a lookout off the trail to the right. It offers some nice views to the south. Some parts of the trail are steep while others have switchbacks that help keep the climb somewhat manageable.

Near the top of the Camel's Hump is another more popular lookout to the right. This also offers views to the south but they are more extensive. Continue on the red trail for another 0.9 miles to the summit of Thomas Cole Mountain. The descent from Camel's Hump into the col is not very difficult. There are very few views along the way. At one point as you walk along the flat area in the col between the Hump and Cole, Thomas Cole Mountain is directly in front of you. The final ascent up Thomas Cole is steep in parts and rather long. There are no views from the summit.

Continue on the red trail for 0.8 miles to the summit of Black Dome. The descent into the Col and subsequent ascent of Black Dome are both steep and you will repeat them as you retrace your steps back to the parking area! Just before the summit on Black Dome is another lookout again to the south. Continue on this trail for 1.3 miles passing through the col on the way to Blackhead Mountain.

The descent into the Col and subsequent ascent of Black Dome are both steep and you will repeat them as you retrace your steps back to the parking area! The summit of Blackhead has no views but as you ascend the western flank of Blackhead there are great views back to the west at Black Dome. After reaching the rock and trail junction that mark the summit, turn around and retrace your path back to the parking area.

Blackhead Loop

Another hike through part of the Blackhead Range is a seven mile loop from County Route 56.  This loop has an overall elevation gain of over 2800 feet and also includes some rock scrambles.  It is shorter than the out and back hike, but is more difficult and you miss a few of the views west of Camels Hump.

Park at the trailhead at the end of County Route 56. The GPS coordinates are N42 17.343 W74 06.863 for those who have a GPS devise in their vehicle. Find the red marked Black Dome Trail aka Blackhead Range Trail and hike 0.6 miles. At a junction bear left on the yellow marked Batavia Kill Trail. Follow this yellow trail for 0.9 miles where it meets the blue marked Escarpment Trail/Long Path. Take a right and follow this trail for one mile until the junction with the yellow marked Blackhead Mountain Trail. This is the summit of Blackhead Mountain. Go right on this trail and descend 0.7 miles to the col between Blackhead and Black Dome.

Go straight ahead on the red trail and follow it for 0.6 miles to the summit of Black Dome. As you climb over the steepest rock scrambles, hold on and look over your shoulder. The exposed rock you see on Blackhead is where you were just a little while ago. (You can skip the next part about Thomas Cole Mountain if the two Blacks were your goal for the day.) From the summit of Black Dome you continue for another rather uneventful .8 miles to the summit of Thomas Cole Mountain. To return, retrace your route back to the col between Black Dome and Blackhead. Turn left to stay on the red trail and proceed back to the parking area.

 Black Dome Trail (Red Discs) aka Blackhead Range Trail

0.00 Marked trail starts on Elmer Barnum Road at its junction with County Route 40. Proceed easterly along Barnum Road (driveable for 0.7m with parking at the end). 

1.10 Turn left off old road following red markers.
3.55 Summit of Thomas Cole Mt. (3940').

4.30 Summit of Black Dome Mt. (3980'). View to the south.

4.90 Pass yellow Blackhead Mt. Trail. Continue left steeply downgrade.

5.30 Spring.

6.15 Pass yellow Batavia Kill Trail going right to lean to (0.65m),

6.65 Trail turns right after parking area on Big Hollow Road.

7.00 Cross stream.

7.75 Trail ends at junction with blue Escarpment Trail between Burnt Knob and Acra Point.

Map above courtesy of Andy Arthur
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