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Hunter Mountain via Becker Hollow Trail
This hike follows the shortest but steepest route to the summit of Hunter Mountain, the second highest mountain in the Catskills.
Out and back
Allowed off leash
Views, Historic feature
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Trail Conference volunteers maintain trails in this park.
Driving DirectionsTake the New York State Thruway to Exit 20 (Saugerties). After paying the toll, turn left onto Routes 212/32 and cross over the Thruway. At the first traffic light, turn right onto Route 32 North. In 6.0 miles, continue straight ahead onto Route 32A, as Route 32 turns right. In 1.9 miles, turn left onto Route 23A, which climbs through Kaaterskill Clove to reach the villages of Haines Falls and Tannersville. About two miles beyond Tannersville, turn left onto Route 214 and follow it for 1.2 miles to a trailhead parking area (with a DEC sign) on the right side of the road.
The Becker Hollow Trail is the shortest route up Hunter Mountain, but it is also the steepest, climbing about 2,000 feet in only 1.7 miles. If you’re looking for an easier (but longer) way to reach the summit, the Spruceton Trail, which makes a loop together with the Hunter Mountain Trail and a section of the Devil’s Path, is a good alternative. Except for a short loop at the top, the Becker Hollow Trail hike is an out-and-back route, requiring you to retrace your steps for most of the way.
From the parking area, follow the blue-blazed Becker Hollow Trail, which passes between two stone pillars (the remnants of a stone arch) and continues on a woods road through a young forest (formerly the Becker family farm). The first part of the trail is nearly level, with the trail paralleling a cascading stream on the right.
After crossing the stream on a wooden footbridge, the trail passes an old concrete dam on the left (the dam has been breached) and begins to climb more steeply. Soon, the trail crosses a tributary stream on rocks, curves to the right and moves away from the main stream.
The trail continues up the mountain, ascending steadily. At first, it follows a rock-lined woods road, but as the trail gets higher on the mountain, it becomes narrower and steeper. Above the sign marking the 3500-foot elevation, the grade becomes even more challenging.
Finally, about two miles from the start, you’ll reach a junction with a yellow-blazed spur trail. Turn right onto this yellow trail, which descends a little to reach a piped spring. A short distance beyond the spring, the trail bears left and climbs on switchbacks through an attractive spruce-fir forest. You’ll notice several sets of rock steps along the way.
After a short level stretch, the trail ends at a large clearing at the summit of Hunter Mountain (elevation 4,040 feet), with a 60-foot-high fire tower and a cabin. You've hiked for 2.3 miles and climbed over 2,200 vertical feet to reach this point.
The fire tower is open to the public, and it affords excellent views in all directions. The mountains of the Blackhead Range may be seen to the northeast, and Indian Head, Twin, Sugarloaf and Plateau Mountains are visible to the southeast. You can see the ski trails on Hunter Mountain to the north.
After enjoying the view and taking a break from the arduous climb (a picnic table adjacent to the tower is a good spot for lunch), proceed to the trail junction behind the cabin, turn left, and head south on the blue-blazed Spruceton Trail, which follows a nearly level route through a dense spruce-fir forest. In 0.3 mile, you’ll reach a trail junction at the former location of the fire tower (it was moved to its present location in 1953). Here, a yellow-blazed side trail goes off to the right. Follow this side trail for about 300 feet to a rock ledge which affords a west-facing view.
When you’re ready to continue, return to the junction and continue ahead (east) on the blue-blazed Becker Hollow Trail. You’ll pass a steel rod embedded in the bedrock (which formerly supported the fire tower) and soon begin a very steep descent. In 0.2 mile, you’ll reach the junction with the yellow-blazed spur trail that you followed on your way up the mountain. Proceed ahead on the blue-blazed Becker Hollow Trail, now retracing your steps, and continue for two miles back to the parking area where the hike began.