Plateau Mountain Via Warner Creek Trail

Overview

This loop hike climbs to the summit of Plateau Mountain via the new Warner Creek Trail, with many panoramic views.

Details
Time:
8 hours
Difficulty:
Strenuous
Length:
8 miles
Route Type:
Circuit
Dogs:
Allowed off leash
Features:
Views, Cliffs
Location
Park:
Region:
County:
Greene
State:
NY
Maps/Books
Buy Trail Map:

Buy Book:
Publication
First Published:
10/26/2007
Submitter:
Daniel Chazin

Photo

Parking


View Plateau Mountain in a larger map

Trail Conference volunteers maintain trails in this park.
Trailhead GPS Coordinates
42.140337,-74.212239
Driving Directions

Take the New York State Thruway to Exit 20 (Saugerties). After the tollbooths, turn left onto Route 212/32 and, in 0.2 mile, turn right to continue on Route 32. In another 6.0 miles, Route 32 turns right, but you should continue ahead on Route 32A. Follow Route 32A for 1.9 miles to a T-intersection with Route 23A, and turn left. Continue on Route 23A, which climbs through Kaaterskill Clove and passes through the villages of Haines Falls and Tannersville. In 9.2 miles (about 1.5 miles past Tannersville), turn left on Route 214 and follow it for 4.2 miles to Notch Inn Road, which is just past the highest point on the road. Turn left onto Notch Inn Road, a dirt road, and follow it uphill, passing between old stone abutments. After the initial steep rise, the road levels off. Park in one of the pull-offs on the left side of the road, beyond the first house (the road becomes impassable to vehicles a short distance beyond).

Description

The first part of this hike follows the new Warner Creek Trail, blazed by volunteers of the Catskill Mountain Club, a member of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. It is one of the most outstanding trails in the Catskills, featuring a well-designed route with (for the most part) moderate grades, as well as a series of scenic viewpoints.

To start the hike, continue ahead (uphill) on the continuation of Notch Inn Road (now badly eroded in places) for about three-quarters of a mile, until you reach the height of land. Here, the trailhead of the blue-blazed Warner Creek Trail (also the route of the Long Path) is to the left (marked by a sign). Turn left and follow the Warner Creek Trail, which begins to climb towards Daley Ridge and Plateau Mountain.

The climb is gentle at first, but the grade soon steepens as the trail switches back, first to the right, then to the left. Along the way, you'll pass many interesting boulders and other rock formations.

After about 20 minutes, you'll reach a short side trail to the right, blazed with yellow markers, which leads to the first of the five viewpoints along the trail. The view is to the southwest, and the prominent peak directly ahead is Edgewood Mountain. You'll want to take a break here to rest from the climb.

As you continue up the ridge, you'll pass a massive rock wall just to the left. After climbing some more, you'll come to a yellow-blazed side trail that leads to the next viewpoint - to the southeast, over Olderbark Mountain. A third viewpoint is a short distance beyond, but this one is partially obscured by vegetation.

You're now approaching the crest of Daley Ridge, having climbed about 1,300 vertical feet from the trailhead. The grade moderates, and spruce and fir trees become the predominant vegetation. The trail continues along this relatively level ridge for about half a mile and then descends a little.

After resuming your climb, now heading up Plateau Mountain, you'll reach a fourth viewpoint, also marked by a short yellow-blazed side trail to the right. The south-facing view from here is even broader. To the right, you can see Daley Ridge, which you just climbed, and Olderbark Mountain is the long ridge to the left.

Soon, you'll come to a sign marking the 3,500 feet contour, with camping and fires prohibited above this elevation (except in winter). Here, a yellow-blazed trail to the right leads about 500 feet to a spring. If you need more water, you might want to take this short detour (but be sure to purify the water).

The trail now climbs very steeply to the last of the five viewpoints, also marked by a short yellow trail to the right. From here - the highest overlook on the Warner Creek Trail - you can look down over Daley Ridge onto Stony Clove Notch, traversed by Route 214, where you began your hike.

Before reaching the summit ridge of Plateau Mountain, the trail narrows as it traverses a dense spruce-and-fir forest, typical of the higher elevations in the Catskills. This trail section has been named the "Dark Woods."

The Warner Creek Trail ends, three miles from its trailhead, at a junction with the red-blazed Devil's Path. Turn left and follow the Devil's Path for a mile and a half along the long, flat summit ridge of Plateau Mountain (elevation 3,840 feet). This is the longest nearly-level ridge in the Catskills traversed by a marked hiking trail, and it offers a unique hiking experience as you traverse the thick evergreen forest on the trail.

As you approach the western end of the ridge, you'll come to three panoramic viewpoints. The first two viewpoints offer a view over Kaaterskill High Peak to the north, while view from the third viewpoint (known as Danny's Lookout) is to the west and south, with Hunter Mountain visible straight ahead.

The Devil's Path now descends to Stony Clove Notch and Route 214. After a precipitous drop over a rock ledge, the grade moderates for a short distance but, for most of the way, the descent is rather steep. You descend a vertical distance of about 1,600 feet in only a mile and a half, with the grade averaging about 20%! The footing is rocky and uneven, so use caution and take your time, especially if the ground is wet. The blazing of this section is sparse, but the footpath is unmistakable.

At the base of the descent, you'll reach Route 214. Turn left and follow the road for 1.2 miles to Notch Inn Road, then turn left and climb Notch Inn Road to your car.

Comment: Please be relevant, civil, non-commercial.

Icy but magnificent

This is a gorgeous loop! The Warner Creek section is well marked, but there are a couple points where the blazes are missing due to downed trees. The rock formations and forests on the ridge have an otherwordly feel, very solemn. My partner and I tend to chat quite a bit while on the trail, but through this part, we were very quiet. The ice was very prevalent in the forest and on some of the rocky ascents, but we had to put on our microspikes only for the larger frozen portions. The descent is no joke! We actually couldn't find it at first, because we didn't think that the trail just dropped over the side. Maybe an arrow could be painted on the rock indicating the direction? Even though this side of the ridge was in the full afternoon sun, on a day in mid-March with a high in the 70s, there was still ice in one section and required a great deal of caution. The last section, on Route 214, was kinda blah, and I would have just as soon taken a pass on that. Bear in mind that this road tends to get warm in the mid to late afternoon, so make sure you have enough water left. FWIW, the parking situation on Notch Inn Road is somewhat different than described above. There are several "no parking" signs on the upper half of the road, across from the houses, so I would recommend parking along the lower section.  We completed the 8 miles in about 6 hours, with a solid 30-40 minutes for lunch.