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Hiking in Catskill Park
The Hunter-West Kill Wilderness Area is a high elevation east-west ridge that lies between West Kill Creek to the north and Esopus Creek to the south. Hunter-West Kill Mountain Wilderness is a remote mountainous location of more than 19,250 acres. The terrain is very steep in places with elevations ranging from 1,000 feet to 4,040 feet. The very popular Diamond Notch Falls are located within this wilderness.
There are numerous mountain peaks - Hunter Mountain (4040 feet) West Kill (3880 feet), Southwest Hunter (3740 feet), Rusk Mountain (3680 feet), North Dome (3610 feet), Sherrill (3540 feet), Balsam (3340 feet), Evergreen Mountain (3360 feet), Pine Island Mountain (3,140 feet), Packsaddle Mountain (3,100 feet) and Sheridan (2220 feet). The area is rugged and there is limited access to the wilderness. There are several year round and seasonal streams which either flow to the Schoharie in the north or to the Westkill in the south.
A variety of wilderness recreational opportunities ranging from hiking, snowshoeing, bird-watching, mountain biking, cross-country skiing and primitive camping to horseback riding, hunting, fishing, and trapping await the visitor. Visitors are encouraged to travel and camp with care, utilizing the principles promoted in the Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics Program.
There are a few marked and maintained trails available for hiking in this area. Look below for info.
Diamond Notch Trail (Blue Trail Markers)
A gentle three mile hike with an ascent of 1,300 feet from the south of the notch, and a 700 foot ascent from the north to the notch. Hikers will find the Diamond Notch Falls at the Devil's Path Junction. This beautiful waterfall drops about 25 feet in an amphitheater-like setting, with a small meadow nearby. Just to the east of the Falls, the Devil's Path enters the Hunter Mountain Wild Forest.
The northern portion of the Diamond Notch trail, leading from the parking lot along the Spruceton Road to the Falls, is a popular 2 mile round trip family hike and is identified as such in the "Catskill Adventure - Day Hikes and Paddles for Families" brochure. The Diamond Notch Trail is tagged with blue markers.
The summit of Hunter Mountain can be attained by four different routes. Two are located within the Hunter Mountain Wild Forest.
Becker Hollow Trail (Blue Trail Markers) This trail begins at the trailhead along State Route 214, just north of Devil's Tombstone Campground. This short trail is arguably the most difficult hike in the Catskills - climbing nearly 2,000 feet in two miles. However, for those willing to exert the energy, the reward is a short route to the summit of Hunter Mountain with it's spectacular views.
Spruceton and Colonel's Chair Trails (Blue Trail Markers) This 3.6 mile trail is to the fire tower access road. Along it you can visit the John Robb lean to and take in good views of the Westkill Mountain Wilderness and Spruceton Valley. A short one mile trail leads off to the north, just above the lean to, to the upper ski lift area on Hunter Mountain. This yellow marked trail, known as Colonel's Chair, will also lead you to the resort's snack bar, which is seasonally open!
Devils Path (Red Trail Markers)
This trail received its name due to the rugged country which it traverses. The eastern section over the ridge of Indian Head, Twin, and Sugarloaf mountains was first opened in 1930. The westerly continuation over Plateau and Hunter Mountains was opened in 1935. The trail follows the height of land on the range for almost its entire length and beautiful vistas of the Catskill region are enjoyed from numerous viewpoints along the way.
The Devil's Path travels over eleven miles in Hunter-West Kill Wilderness. The views along the trail are truly spectacular. A seasonal spring and the Devils Acre lean to are located near the summit of Hunter Mountain at the trail junction of the Devil's Path and the yellow-marked Hunter Mountain Trail. The overall trail is over 25 miles and is a great 3 day backpacking trip for those looking for a hiking adventure in the Catskills. This stretch of the trail is known as the western section of the Devil's Path.
Kiosk & Register at the Becker Hollow Trailhead
Access to the Wilderness
The area can be accessed from NY 28, NY 42, Greene County Route 6 (Spruceton Road) and the Diamond Notch Road via NY 214. Watch for trailheads and forest preserve access parking areas along these routes.
From the North
Along Greene County Route 6 (Spruceton Road):
- Angler parking area approximately 2.7 miles east of the hamlet of West Kill.
- Devil's Path Trailhead - approximately 3.75 miles east of West Kill.
- Diamond Notch Trailhead - approximately seven miles east of West Kill.
- Hunter Mountain (Spruceton Road) Trailhead may also be used - 6.75 miles east of West Kill on the north side of the road.
From the East
- Diamond Notch Trailhead - approximately 1.5 miles north of NY 214, at the end of the Diamond Notch Road (note: the last 0.2 miles of this road surface is very rough, use caution)
- Becker Hollow Trailhead - approximately 1.3 miles south of the intersection of NY 214 and 23A.
- Devil's Path Trailhead - approximately 2.8 miles south of the intersection of NY 214 and 23A.
From the South
- Peck Hollow- Just south of the county line, approximately 1.7 miles north of NY 28 in the Shandaken Wild Forest.
- Broad Street Hollow - approximately three miles north of NY 28 on Broad Street Hollow Road. **Seasonal parking is allowed; please do not block this snowplow turnaround**
From the West
- NY 42 lot - approximately four miles north of Shandaken along NY 42.
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