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Devils Path

Western Section

 

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Devils Path - Western Section

This section is a little bit less popular for day hikes since it does not offer easy access from cols, and less of the rocky, steep terrain found to the east. It only goes over the summit of one mountain, and avoids that of Hunter. However, there are still a few attractions. This stretch of the trail travels through the Hunter-West Kill Wilderness.

Hunter Mountain

After crossing just below the outlet of Notch Pond, the trail shortly begins to climb and switchback, passing a massive pair of stone outcrops known as the Devil's Portal. Above, the trail follows an old wood road into an area where a few hemlocks remain from loggers in the late 19th century. Some spruce may be found along here, too.

Leaving the old road shortly before it dead-ends, the trail goes through a slightly more level area where hungry hikers can snack on wild blackberries and raspberries in season, then levels out just below 3,500 feet, in an area where paper birch, red spruce and fern make up the forest ... a sign of the heavy logging of this area a century ago by the West Virginia-based Fenwick Lumber Company.

At 2.15 miles, from the notch, it reaches Devil's Acre, the low point between Hunter and trail less Southwest Hunter Mountain. It begins with the junction with the yellow-blazed Hunter Mountain Trail, which leads uphill a mile or so to Hunter's summit. Shortly after the junction is the Devil's Acre Lean-To. Past the lean-to is a fairly wet area, a result of all the past logging, then the trail begins to descend. A small cairn on the left side of the trail marks the beginning of the old narrow-gauge railbed used by most hikers to reach the elusive summit of Southwest Hunter.

After going through another level area a half-mile long with impressive rock outcrops to one side, the Devil's Path reaches another superb viewpoint over the cirque that gives rise to the West Kill. Southwest Hunter's ridgeline can be previewed by those heading in that direction, and across Diamond Notch rises West Kill itself. Remnants of camping can sometimes be found here although it is not permitted.

The trail then begins a long, leisurely but steady 1.5-mile descent down the south side of Hunter Mountain to the junction with the blue-blazed Diamond Notch Trail at a bridge over the Diamond Notch Falls. The latter trail can be followed 0.7 mile to the parking lot at the end of Spruceton Road (Greene County Route 7).

West Kill Mountain

The newest (it was cut in 1969) and least-hiked portion of the Devil's Path begins just past the bridge over the West Kill as the trail branches off to follow it for a few hundred feet, then slowly begins traversing up the huge mountain, the sixth-highest in the Catskills. A good spring is found to the side of the trail 0.7-mile from the bridge. Afterwards, it levels off for a while, then begins attacking the mountain more directly, requiring once again the use of hands through some steep chutes. The woods aside the trail become more and more boreal, and at about 3,400 feet, it levels off again. Another 0.7-mile from the spring, there is a large rock overhang, an excellent place to camp just below the 3,500-foot marker, where camping is prohibited for most of the year.

The trail remains level through the boreal woods, then begins to climb seriously to Buck Ridge Lookout, another 0.7-mile from the cave. This sweeping view takes in primarily Hunter and Southwest Hunter, but also offers a good view down Ox Clove towards the Lanesville area and the lesser peaks behind it. Southern peaks such as Slide and Peekamoose are also visible. A short path through the woods leads to another, smaller overlook north taking in Rusk Mountain.

A short distance (0.1 mile) past the lookout is the 3,880-foot  summit of West Kill itself, the only summit in the Catskills marked by an official sign to that effect. There is no view. The trail begins to descend shortly afterwards, past an unreliable spring.

The remainder of the Devil's Path receives less foot traffic than the other sections and is as a result sometimes inadequately maintained. Dropping off the summit cone relatively quickly, it then descends very gently to about 3,300 feet over the next two miles and then, after a small creek that can supply water in all but the driest times, abruptly begins to climb up a rocky chute, then some minor ledges, to the 3,420-foot summit known as either West West Kill or St. Anne's Peak. It goes right over it, but there are no real views except when the leaves are down.

From there the trail goes down along a series of long, switched-back traverses 2.35 miles to its second Mink Hollow, a swampy area between West West Kill and North Dome Mountain. A DEC sign there gives mileage in both directions despite the lack of a junction a legacy of a plan to later extend the Devil's Path over North Dome and Mount Sherrill. After this, the trail travels due north past the outlet stream from the swampy col through a state-land corridor of tall, old-growth trees, lush fern beds and fields of glacial erratic to some old-growth hemlocks and, finally, its western end at Spruceton Road 1.4 miles later.
Mile Trail Description
13.80

NY 214.  Stony Clove Notch.  Devils Tombstone State Campground is just to the south.  Cross road and stream, then begin ascent of Hunter Mountain.

15.90

On your right is the junction of the yellow disc Hunter Mountain Trail that leads 1.35 to the fire tower.

15.95

Devils Acre Lean To and Spring.

16.60

A short trail on your left leads to a lookout to the southwest.

18.10

Diamond Notch Falls.  To your right is the blue blazed Diamond Notch Trail that leads 0.7 mile to Spruceton Road.  Turn left, cross stream on bridge and then turn right following stream.  Straight ahead is the blue blazed Diamond Notch Trail that leads 0.5 mile to the Diamond Notch Lean To and then to Lanesville.  Following Red DEC Discs still.

18.80

Spring to your left.

19.50

After reaching top of ridge, pass large rock overhang (good emergency shelter).

20.45

Buck Ridge Lookouts.  Good views to the north, south and east.  Some call this the best view in the Catskills.

20.60

Westkill Mountain summit (3880 feet).

22.65

Summit of western peak.

23.60

Swamp in Mink Hollow, between North Dome and Westkill Mountains.

25.15

Reach County Route 6 (Spruceton Road) and the end of the Devils Path about 3.8 miles east of the village of West Kill.

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