Windham High Peak

Overview

Climbs to a 3,500 foot peak in the Catskill Mountains with a view that reaches the Schoharie and Mohawk Valleys to Albany, with the southern Adirondacks visible beyond.

Details
Time:
4.5 hours
Difficulty:
Strenuous
Length:
6.4 miles
Route Type:
Out and back
Dogs:
Allowed off leash
Features:
Views
Location
Park:
Region:
County:
Greene
State:
NY
Publication
First Published:
01/27/2011

Updated/Verified:
02/19/2014
Submitter:
Daniel Chazin

Photo

Catskill Blackhead Range from Windham High Peak

Parking


View Windham High Peak - Peck Road Parking in a larger map

Trailhead GPS Coordinates
42.296441,-74.169152

Driving Directions

Take 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. After passing through the commercial area of Tannersville, turn right at a traffic light onto Hill Street (County Route 23C). Follow Route 23C for 6.1 miles, and turn right onto Maplecrest Road (County Route 40) (there is a large American flag on the left at this intersection). Continue on Maplecrest Road for 1.9 miles to the hamlet of Maplecrest (at the base of a steep descent), and turn right onto Big Hollow Road. In 1.8 miles, turn left onto Peck Road, and follow it to the parking area at the end of the road.

Description

Windham High Peak is one of the 35 peaks in the Catskill Mountains that is over 3,500 feet in elevation. During the winter, it makes an ideal snowshoe hike under appropriate conditions. The climb involves an ascent of about 1,500 feet in elevation over 3.2 miles. Trail conditions in the Catskills constantly change - especially in the winter - so make sure to check the weather report and the condition of the trails before you embark on the hike. Recent trip reports of hikes in the Catskills are posted at www.viewsfromthetop.com.

From the parking area, proceed north on the yellow-blazed Elm Ridge Trail, an old woods road that is often quite wet. In 0.6 mile, you'll pass a spring (note the pipe on the left side of the trail), after which the trail starts to climb. Soon, you'll pass some interesting cliffs to the right and reach a junction with the blue-blazed Escarpment Trail at the crest of the rise. Turn right onto the Escarpment Trail. In a short distance, you'll notice the Elm Ridge Lean-to on the right - a good place to take a break.Elm Ridge Lean-to. Photo by Daniel Chazin. Windham High Peak

Proceed ahead on the Escarpment Trail, which begins to climb the mountain more steeply. Soon, you'll enter a dark, dense Norway spruce forest, with the tree roots spreading over the trail. After passing through an open area, you'll come to a second dense stand of spruce. It is believed that these spruce groves were planted by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s.

After climbing a little more, the trail levels off for a short stretch. It soon resumes a gradual climb, with views to the right through the trees over the Blackhead Range. About 2.5 miles into the hike, the trail turns sharply left and begins to climb quite steeply. This section is the steepest of the entire climb. After gaining about 200 feet in elevation, the grade moderates.

You'll know that you're near the summit when you see a sign marking the 3500-foot elevation on a tree to the left of the trail. A short distance beyond, a side trail to the right leads to a panoramic viewpoint over the Blackhead Range from a rock ledge. You'll want to pause here to rest from the climb and admire the view.

Dan Chazin at the summit with northern view in the background.Continue ahead on the Escarpment Trail, which climbs a little to the actual summit. At 3,524 feet, Windham High Peak is the second lowest of the Catskill peaks over 3,500 feet in elevation, but it offers a view that is among the very best of all of the peaks. Proceed ahead a short distance beyond the summit, descending a little, and you'll soon notice an open rock ledge on the left. Since Windham High Peak is the most northerly of all the Catskill 3500 peaks, on a clear day you can see across the Schoharie and Mohawk Valleys to Albany, with the southern Adirondacks visible beyond.

After taking in the view, retrace your steps on the Escarpment Trail down to the junction with the Elm Ridge Trail, turn left onto the Elm Ridge Trail, and follow it back to the parking area where the hike began.

Comments

Shuttle hike

If you have a second car available, park it at the DEC trailhead parking at the dead end of Big Hollow Road. Hike past the summit of Windham High Peak, continuing on the Escarpment Trail over Burnt Knob, which continues to offer spectacular views. At the intersection of the Black Dome Range trail (red) turn right and descend down into the valley of the Batavia Kill to where your second car is parked. Note that the Escarpment trail becomes somewhat more rugged - with a spot or two requiring the use of hands - past the Windham High Peak summit.  Distance is about the same as the hike described here.

Some sort of traction aid is strongly recommended if you do it between November and April, and you may encounter occasional ice even in May.

A different hike to Windham High Peak by Daniella Wagstaff

Follow this link for some great pictures of a hike to Windham High Peak from the east, over Burnt Knob.

A great snowshoe hike!

There was about 3 feet of snow on the ground at the base of the mountain on February 20, 2014.  Snowshoes and skis are strongly recommended for those planning on this doing this hike when there is significant snow on the ground.  If you are not wearing snowshoes or skis, please not walk in the snowshoe tracks.

Nice trail, nice views, nice day to hike!

Did this trail this past weekend and it was extremely well marked.

Would be very difficult to get lost here.

The hike was moderate and at time's a bit strenuous, but all in all not too hard at all.

Went with a group and saw many other hikers along the way.

Not sure if I would do it again, but glad I did it this one time!