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Indian Head Mountain Loop
This loop hike climbs nearly 2,000 feet to the summit of Indian Head Mountain, with spectacular views.
Allowed off leash
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Trail Conference volunteers maintain trails in this park.
Take the New York State Thruway to Exit 20 (Saugerties). After the toll booths, turn left onto N.Y. 212/N.Y. 32, and continue straight ahead at the next intersection to stay on Route 212. In 2.3 miles, turn right onto County Route 35 (Blue Mountain Road). In another 1.5 miles, turn left to continue on County Route 35, now designated as West Saugerties Road. Continue ahead on West Saugerties Road when it becomes County Route 33 and then Platte Clove Road, which climbs through Platte Clove on a steep, narrow road. Just beyond the crest of the rise, turn right at a sign for “trailhead parking” (the sign may be facing the opposite direction) and proceed to the parking area (about 150 feet up a gravel road).
NOTE: The section of Platte Clove Road that climbs steeply from West Saugerties is closed in the winter (from November 1st to April 15th). During this period, the trailhead should be accessed via N.Y. 23A. Take Thruway Exit 20 and turn left after the toll booths onto N.Y. 212/N.Y. 32, but after crossing over the Thruway, turn right onto N.Y. 32. In 6.0 miles, where N.Y. 32 bears right, continue straight ahead onto N.Y. 32A. In 1.9 miles, when N.Y. 32A ends, turn left onto N.Y. 23A and follow it up Kaaterskill Clove and through the village of Haines Falls. At the traffic light in the next village, Tannersville, turn left onto Depot Road and continue ahead on Spruce Street (County Route 16). When Spruce Street ends at a T-intersection, turn left onto Platte Clove Road and continue for 4.9 miles to the trailhead parking area, on the left side of the road.
From the parking area, go back to Platte Clove Road, turn right, and walk along the road for about 750 feet until you see a “Long Path” sign on the left. Enter the woods, heading south on a footpath, and cross Plattekill Creek on a “kingpin” bridge. The Long Path climbs through an attractive evergreen forest, traversing the Platte Clove Preserve of the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development. The trail through the Platte Clove Preserve is marked both with green diamond blazes and with blue blazes with the Long Path logo.
In three-quarters of a mile, you’ll enter the State Forest Preserve. The trail is now blazed with blue DEC blazes. Then, in another 0.2 mile, you’ll reach a junction with the red-blazed Devil’s Path. The trail on the right will be your return route, but for now, continue ahead on the old road, now following red blazes.
In another 350 feet, you’ll come to a second junction. Turn right here and continue to follow the red-blazed Devil’s Path, which begins its climb of Indian Head Mountain. You’ll gain about 1,000 feet in elevation in 1.25 miles, as the trail ascends the northeast face of the mountain, with level sections alternating with rather steep climbs.
After passing a large overhanging ledge on the left, the trail climbs steeply, then descends a little to Sherman’s Lookout – a northeast-facing rock ledge to the left of the trail. The ledge affords a spectacular view over Platte Clove, with Kaaterskill High Peak in the background, and the Hudson River visible in the distance to the right. You’ll want to take a break here and rest from your arduous climb.
The trail now curves to the right and heads through a spruce forest, running close to the edge of the escarpment for part of the way. A level stretch is followed by a rather steep climb. After traversing a deep evergreen forest, the trail passes a panoramic south-facing viewpoint on the left, then begins a gradual descent.
At the base of the descent, the trail turns sharply right and climbs very steeply up a cleft in the rock. You’ll need to use both your hands and your feet to negotiate this steep climb (with tree roots providing excellent hand-holds). At the top, an open rock ledge on the right provides another excellent view – this one to the southeast. The knob directly ahead of you is part of Indian Head Mountain (it forms the “chin” of the “Indian,” which you just traversed on the Devil’s Path), and Overlook Mountain (with a fire tower and a communications tower) is on the right. Use extreme caution here, and do not approach the edge, as there is a sheer drop of over 100 feet from this exposed ledge.
The trail continues on a relatively level route until, just before reaching a 50-foot rock face, it turns sharply right and climbs steeply through a crevice. Again, you’ll need to use both your hands and your feet here. The trail soon passes the 3500-foot sign and continues to climb, soon reaching yet another viewpoint from a rock ledge to the left.
The actual summit of the mountain is a short distance beyond the viewpoint. There are no signs to designate this high point, but you’ll know when you’ve reached it, as just beyond, the trail begins a very steep descent. In just half a mile, the trail drops about 500 vertical feet.
At the base of the descent, you’ll come to Jimmy Dolan Notch. The Devil’s Path continues ahead, beginning its climb of Twin Mountain, but you should turn right onto the blue-blazed Jimmy Dolan Notch Trail, which you will follow for the next 1.6 miles. The first part of this trail involves a steep descent, but after descending another 300 vertical feet, the grade moderates, and the trail meanders downhill through a deciduous forest.
After following an old road for about a third of a mile, you’ll cross a stream and reach a trail junction. The Jimmy Dolan Notch Trail ends here, and you should turn right onto the red-blazed Devil’s Path. The trail climbs gradually, then levels off. It crosses two significant streams – one on an interesting rock bridge, and the other on flat rock slabs. Then, after about 1.5 miles, it descends slightly to reach a junction with the trail leading through the Platte Clove Preserve. Turn left and retrace your steps on the Long Path through the Platte Clove Preserve to return to Platte Clove Road, where the hike began.