Windham High Peak via Burnt Knob
Directions to trailhead
Take the New York State Thruway north 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). 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. Follow Big Hollow Road for 4.3 miles to the parking area on the right, just before the end of the road.
When driving in on Big Hollow Road, watch for a hiking trail sign on the left after the road turns to gravel. This will be the starting point for this hike but drive in just a bit more to park in the lot on the right.
After parking walk back up the road about 100 feet to the hiking trail sign and turn right to access the Black Dome Range Trail marked with red discs. Immediately cross a nice, sturdy footbridge, built to replace a bridge destroyed by Hurricane Irene. After crossing the bridge, the trail turns sharply right with a brook rock hop but before doing that, turn to your left and sign the trail register.
Rock hop over the brook and follow the red discs as the trail begins a moderate ascent. You will rock hop across the brook once more and continue ascending until you reach the end of the red-blazed Black Dome Range Trail at the blue-blazed Escarpment Trail. Turn left here and enjoy a little bit of level hiking in the saddle before continuing your ascent, sometimes steeply on the Escarpment Trail towards Burnt Knob.
After about .4 mile on the blue-blazed Escarpment Trail, watch for an unmarked side trail to the left which brings you to an open ledge with views of the Blackhead Range. Return and continue on the Escarpment Trail. In about another .5 mile, after dropping down between two rock overhangs, look for a short unmarked side trail on the right where you will find a view of your ultimate goal, Windham High Peak, to the far left, then scan to the right for a breathtaking panorama of the Hudson Valley and beyond. After descending another .4 mile, an unmarked side trail to the left offers views from above of the Black Dome Valley where you drove in earlier.
Continue on the Escarpment Trail, which will now ascend Windham High Peak. Once you reach the 3500-foot elevation sign, you are very close to magnificent views. Climb uphill just a little more to a rock ledge on the right with views of the Hudson Valley. You should be able to make out Albany and on a clear day the Adirondacks and the Taconics. Don’t forget to look down at the rock you are standing on where you will find old graffiti etched into the surface dating back to the late 1800’s.
The summit of Windham High Peak is just a few more steps ahead on the Escarpment Trail and since you are so close, continue on just a bit beyond the summit on the level trail for another view to the left. It will pale in comparison to the last overlook but because it is so close it warrants a visit. This will be your turnaround point. Retrace your steps back over Burnt Knob and down into the saddle where you turn right on the red-blazed Black Dome Range Trail back to your car.
[ 0.00] Walk back the way you drove in 100 ft., then turn right on the red-blazed Black Dome Range Trail; cross footbridge and sign trail register; rock hop over creek
[ 1.00] Left on blue-blazed Escarpment Trail towards Burnt Knob
[ 1.40] Side trail on left to overlook of Blackhead Range
[ 1.85] Side trail on right to overlook of Hudson Valley
[ 2.20] Side trail on left to overlook; a little farther along another overlook on left
[ 3.40] 3500 feet elevation sign
[ 3.45] Windham High Peak view on the right, just before summit, of the Hudson Valley
[ 3.55] Windham High Peak view on the left, just after summit, of the Blackhead Valley; head back in the opposite direction on the Escarpment Trail
[ 6.30] At the trail junction turn right on red-blazed Black Dome Range Trail
[ 7.30] Sign out at trail register, cross bridge, turn left on Big Hollow Road and walk 100 ft. back to car