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Hiking in Catskill Park

Kaaterskill
High Peak

 

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Kaaterskill High Peak at 3,655 feet is one of the more famous mountains of the Catskill Range in NY, and easily one of it's most recognizable. At 3655 feet, it is in the list of the Catskill 3500 club. Though it only ranks 22nd on the list by elevation, it actually ranks an impressive 4th in prominence. This is one of the steepest climbs in the Catskills, depending on which way you go to the top.

There are two ways to approach the mountain, one is from the south by way of Platte Clove Road, and the other is from the north by Palenville, slightly off NY 23A. Both approach the mountain by way of the Long Path, which leads to the snowmobile trail that circles the mountain! From the snowmobile trail there is a herd path, that was formerly part of an old trail called Twilight Park, that runs north and south over the summit. The southern approach on the Long Trail is shorter and faster (about 7 miles round trip), but the northern approach passes several waterfalls, and is regarded as the more "scenic" route, but it is longer (about 10.5 miles roundtrip). Take note also that the northern approach has an almost 3000 ft. gain in elevation, the most in the Catskills.

Another interesting thing about the mountain is that there are two airplane crash sites. One is visible from the snowmobile trail, while the other is located off trail on the cliffs, not so easily found. Between Kaaterskill High Peak and Round Top there is the remains of an old fort. There are no trails to Round Top, but it still has visitors.

The northern approach has a side trip off the Long Trail called Poet's Ledge, which drops down to some fine views, so perhaps it's best to see it on the way out. The southern approach also has a side trip off the Long Path called Huckleberry Point, which is a popular destination by itself. There is a viewpoint not far from the summit of Kaaterskill High Peak as well, called Hurricane Ledge. The summit of Kaaterskill High Peak has no views, and is in a grassy clearing, but it does have a USGS marker, which is a rarity for Catskill mountains.

Summary: Catch the blue blazed Long Path (also marked by the DEC as a snowmobile trail). The walk starts out as a gentle climb through a mixed hardwood forest with occasional stands of hemlock, eventually passing east of the summit. Parts can be very wet in all but the driest of years. The trail then wraps around the north side of the summit. Keep your eyes out here for the spot where the Long Path leaves the snowmobile trail. Turn left on the snowmobile trail and left at a 'T' intersection. The trail is very muddy in spots. Keep your eye out for a plane crash site on your left. As this trail swings around the south side of the mountain, look for an unblazed trail to your right (a cairn marks the spot). Here the climb is a steep one, requiring all fours at some points. A ledge with superb views will be reached soon. Continue over the summit and down the north face. Bear right on the snowmobile trail, left at the 'T' and return via the Long Path.

 

Trailhead: NYS Thruway to exit 20. Take 212 west to Centerville, turn north (right) on CR 35. Make left onto CR 33. Follow through West Saugerties where it becomes Platte Clove Road. Parking area is on the right, just before the Bruderhoff

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