From the parking area, head into the woods, following the red-blazed Devil’s Path. In 0.2 mile, the blue-blazed Jimmy Dolan Notch Trail begins on the right. Continue straight ahead on the red-blazed Devil’s Path, which climbs g...
From the parking area, head into the woods, following the red-blazed Devil’s Path. In 0.2 mile, the blue-blazed Jimmy Dolan Notch Trail begins on the right. Continue straight ahead on the red-blazed Devil’s Path, which climbs gradually, then levels off. The trail crosses two significant streams – one on an interesting rock bridge, and the other on flat rock slabs. After about 1.5 miles, it descends slightly to reach a junction with the Long Path. To the left, the Long Path heads north through the Platte Clove Preserve, but you should turn right to continue on the Devil’s Path.
In another 350 feet, you’ll come to a second junction, where the blue-blazed Overlook Trail begins on the left. Turn right again 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 very 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.
The trail now curves 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. 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.
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. The trail soon passes the 3500-foot sign and continues to climb, soon reaching yet another viewpoint from a rock ledge on 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. Here, the blue-blazed Jimmy Dolan Notch Trail (which descends to a junction with the Devil’s Path near Prediger Road) begins on the right, but you should continue ahead on the red-blazed Devil’s Path, which begins its climb of Twin Mountain. After a while, the climb steepens, and you’ll have to negotiate a 10-foot vertical climb on tree roots.
A short distance beyond, you’ll come to a viewpoint looking back at Indian Head Mountain, which you just climbed, and then you’ll reach the eastern summit of Twin Mountain, with an expansive south-facing view. You’ll want to rest here for a while and take in the view.
The trail now descends a little and then climbs to the western peak of Twin Mountain. This peak, 3,640 feet in elevation, is 80 feet higher than the eastern peak, and a rock ledge just below the summit offers a northwest-facing view over Hunter Mountain. The trail now begins to descend. After passing a rock cave that can afford shelter in bad weather, the trail descends more steeply until it reaches Pecoy Notch, which marks the low point between Twin and Sugarloaf Mountains. Here, the blue-blazed Pecoy Notch Trail, which leads down to the interesting Dibble’s Quarry and Roaring Kill Road, begins on the right, but you should continue ahead on the red-blazed Devil’s Path. The trail now proceeds to climb Sugarloaf Mountain, gaining 1,000 feet in elevation in 1.2 miles and passing a viewpoint that looks over Twin Mountain.
At the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain (elevation 3,800 feet), a short yellow-blazed side trail on the left leads to a panoramic south-facing viewpoint – another good rest stop. The trail now heads west, descending gradually, until it reaches a huge boulder that offers a west-facing view. The descent now steepens. This section of the Devil’s Path is usually covered with ice in the winter, and the descent over huge rocks can be quite difficult (and even dangerous) for those who lack traction aids. Even in warmer months, this descent can be challenging when the rocks are wet and very slippery.
After descending 1,300 vertical feet from the summit of Sugarloaf, you’ll reach a junction with the blue-blazed Mink Hollow Trail that descends northward towards Roaring Kill Road. A short distance beyond, you’ll come to another junction. Here, on the left, is the Mink Hollow Lean-to, and the blue-blazed Mink Hollow Trail heads south towards Lake Hill. On the right, a woods road (the former route of the Mink Hollow Trail) leads down to Mink Hollow Road (this is the quickest route to civilization, in case of emergency).
The Devil’s Path now begins a steep climb of Plateau Mountain, climbing about 1,250 feet in the next 0.8 mile. This climb can also be very icy in the winter. At the top of the climb, you’ll come out on a rock ledge with a panoramic east-facing view. Soon afterwards, the trail reaches the viewless summit of Plateau (3,840 feet).
The Devil’s Path continues for 1.5 miles along the long, flat summit ridge of Plateau. 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. In 0.4 mile, you’ll reach a junction with the blue-blazed Warner Creek Trail, which begins on the left, but you should continue ahead on the red-blazed Devil’s Path.
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 east, while the view from the third viewpoint (known as Danny’s Lookout) is to the west, 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 1.5 miles, 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.
At the base of the descent, you’ll reach Route 214. The parking area where you left your first car is just across the highway.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 06/05/2014 updated/verified on 05/28/2014
This extremely strenuous one-way hike (requiring a shuttle) traverses the four peaks on the eastern half of the Devil’s Path, climbing about 5,000 vertical feet.
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.