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...
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.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 04/28/2016
This hike follows the shortest but steepest route to the summit of Hunter Mountain, the second highest mountain in the Catskills.
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.