What to know before you hike the most difficult in the Catskills

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Devil’s Path is both one of the most difficult and sought-after hikes in the Catskills, and here’s what you need to know before the trek.

The Catskill Mountains in upstate New York are a famous fast-paced vacation spot for New Yorkers and those who enjoy outdoor activities like camping or hiking. It’s a different New York than the one often shown on television, which features bustling cities, traffic jams, and skyscrapers. In this part of the state, tall trees and mountain peaks outnumber buildings.

Devil’s Path is one of the most difficult trails in the Tri-State region, which is why it’s a top destination for nature lovers. Those who completed the trail said in some places it felt less like a hike and more like climbing a mountain due to the steep climbs and rocky trails. In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to prepare for the hike of a lifetime.


Prepare for the devil’s path

Hikers should prepare before embarking on the Devil’s Path. It’s a tough hike that a lot of people have successfully completed. However, deaths have also been reported in the region. The best thing to do is to be well prepared and have a plan before you go.

First of all, this hiking trail is for experts. Hikers should also be in good physical shape, especially those who want to complete the entire trail in one day. Hikers can reach up to two peaks in a day, but more ambitious hikers can go all the way. In general, hikers should start at dawn and depart on a day when the weather forecast is good.

Hikers should prepare enough provisions for the entire hike. Here are some things to bring:

  • High calorie snacks / meals
  • Tent / sleeping bag if staying overnight
  • Water and energy drinks
  • Iodine water purification tablets / hydration packs
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • Trekking poles
  • Additional socks

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The road

Many state parks have hiking trails of varying difficulty levels, some even have paved trails or boardwalks. The Devil’s Path is not one of them. It will test a person’s physical and mental strength as they embark on difficult paths including rocky trails, cliffs, and limited access to water.

The Devil’s Path is about 25 miles in total, crosses a mountain range, and reaches 5 of the high peaks of Catskill. Hikers typically travel the route east to west, leaving their car in the west (near the exit) and starting in the east, starting at Prediger Road and ending at Spruceton Road.

The trail starts out fairly easy, with low to moderate elevation, but climbs quickly to a steeper elevation. Views are amazing at the peaks, but don’t linger too long unless you plan to stay all weekend.

Mountain # 1: Indian Head Mountain

The first ascent begins at Indian Head Mountain. Make a quick stop at Sherman’s Lookout to take in the views and take photos. Be careful when stepping down into the Jimmy Dolan Notch. Like the drops of the whole trail, this one is steep. Beginners can stop their hike here. There is a trail that returns to the trailhead.

Mountain # 2: Twin mountain

As the name suggests, Twin Mountain has two peaks. Enjoy a view of the clouds at the southern summit of the Twin Mountains. Enjoy this path while you can, as the hike only gets harder from this point. The end of the descent in Pecoy Notch offers another option for a quick exit.

Mountain # 3: Sugarloaf Mountain

Hikers will be greeted at Sugarloaf Mountain with a steep climb. Just like the previous mountains, steep climbs are followed by steep descents. The one from Sugarloaf Mountain enters Mink Hollow. Mink Hollow Hut is a good place to take a break or set up camp. Those passing through can refill their water bottles in this area.

Mountain # 4: Plateau Mountain

A steep climb will take hikers to the flat top of Plateau Mountain. Try Danny’s Lookout and Orchid Point for amazing views and a break. Hop off at Stony Clove Notch and Devils’ Tombstone Campground for the night.

Mountain # 5: Hunter Mountain

Hunter Mountain provides access to a stream where hikers can refill their water bottles. Bring water purification tablets to make sure it is safe to drink. Eagle-eyed hikers might even find edible blackberries and raspberries!

Mountain # 6: West Kill Mountain

This trail keeps the highest peak for the end. Prepare for Pic Sainte-Anne, a short but very steep climb. The steep descent following St. Anne’s Peak leads to the Spruceton Road parking area.

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Camping in the Catskills

Those intending to stay longer than a day should consider camping pitches and lean-tos. Here are some options:

  • Devil’s Tombstone Campground (State-owned) | Cost: $ 16 per night for New York residents; $ 21 for out-of-state visitors
  • Reservation is highly recommended
  • Devil’s Kitchen Lean-to
  • Designated campsite for the Dibbles quarry
  • Stoney Clove Campground
  • Lean-to Devil’s Acres
  • Diamond Notch lean-to

Potential dangers

  • Steep climbs and descents
  • Temperature changes
  • Limited access to water especially in summer
  • Persistent snow and ice until May

Transport and access

  • Airports: Albany International Airport and Stewart International Airport
  • SShuttle service: Smiley transports

The best time to go

The best time to hike is between May and October (spring to fall). Winter can bring harsh weather conditions and can be even more dangerous. During the summer, the heat from the sun can be brutal. Streams could also dry up, limiting water sources.

The challenge is worth it

The Devil’s Path Hiking Trail is one of the most desirable hikes in the country. Not everyone can do it, but most can prepare for it. Hiking the entire trail is intimidating for most people. Beginners can form a shorter route, while experienced and physically fit hikers can try to hike the entire trail.

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