Sugarloaf Mountain is one of the few peaks in the Catskills over 3,500 feet high with trails that loop around the mountain. Besides affording panoramic views of the adjacent mountains, this hike passes several interesting quarry sites and small ponds. It involves some very steep climbs and descents, and the descent of the west side of Sugarloaf can be treacherous...
Sugarloaf Mountain is one of the few peaks in the Catskills over 3,500 feet high with trails that loop around the mountain. Besides affording panoramic views of the adjacent mountains, this hike passes several interesting quarry sites and small ponds. It involves some very steep climbs and descents, and the descent of the west side of Sugarloaf can be treacherous when covered with snow and ice. Do not attempt this hike in the winter unless you come equipped with crampons.
From the parking area, head into the woods on the yellow-blazed Roaring Kill Trail, which climbs gently, crossing a stream several times. In a quarter mile, you’ll reach a junction with the Pecoy Notch Trail and the Mink Hollow Trail, both blazed blue. Turn left and follow the Pecoy Notch Trail to begin your loop hike of Sugarloaf in a clockwise direction.
The trail climbs on a moderate grade. In a quarter mile, you’ll notice on the right the remnants of an old bluestone quarry. The trail now levels off and soon reaches a hemlock grove. Here, the trail bears left and descends slightly to reach a north-facing viewpoint over Roundtop Mountain and Kaaterskill High Peak. This area was also part of the quarry, and the rocks left over from the quarry have been used by hikers to construct chairs. You’ll want to take a break here to enjoy the view and the unusual rock chairs.
A short distance beyond, the trail crosses a stream below an attractive cascade, then climbs parallel to the stream. After moving away from the stream, it passes a small pond on the right. Just beyond, it goes around another pond, with a panoramic view of Sugarloaf Mountain behind the pond. After climbing some more, you’ll reach the end of the Pecoy Notch Trail at a junction with the red-blazed Devil’s Path.
Turn right and follow the Devil’s Path as it begins a steep climb of Sugarloaf Mountain. On the way up, you’ll be afforded views, through the trees, of Twin Mountain to the east. After you pass the sign indicating that you have reached 3,500 feet in elevation, the grade moderates, with level sections alternating with short climbs.
There are no views from the summit (elevation 3,800 feet), but a short distance beyond, a yellow-blazed trail on the left leads to a south-facing viewpoint. This view has grown in somewhat, but you can see a number of mountains, as well as the Ashokan Reservoir, over the trees.
Continue ahead on the Devil’s Path, which descends a little to reach two huge boulders along the trail. There is a limited view over Plateau Mountain from the top of these boulders.
The Devil’s Path now begins a steep descent of the western slope of Sugarloaf Mountain. This section of the trail is often wet, and it is usually covered with snow and ice in the winter. Use caution at all times, but especially if the trail is wet or covered with ice. It will probably take you about an hour to traverse this trail section, which is less than a mile long. Near the base of the descent, you’ll go through a tunnel under an overhanging rock and pass by interesting cliffs with a large overhang.
As you approach Mink Hollow (the col between Sugarloaf and Plateau Mountains), you’ll reach a junction with the blue-blazed Mink Hollow Trail. Leave the red-blazed Devil’s Path and turn right onto the Mink Hollow Trail (do not continue ahead on the route blazed with both blue and red blazes). For about half a mile, the Mink Hollow Trail follows a relatively level route. It then descends a little to cross a stream. The bridge at this location has collapsed, but it is usually possible to cross the stream on rocks.
A short distance beyond, the trail climbs on a switchback to reach a viewpoint over Plateau Mountain to the west. It continues on a relatively level woods road, then bears left and descends on switchbacks. Near the base of the descent, it passes another interesting quarry. The tailings from this quarry were used to build stone walls adjacent to the trail.
Below the quarry, the trail turns right and follows a level route. After crossing a stream, you’ll reach the junction with the yellow-blazed Roaring Kill Trail and the blue-blazed Mink Hollow Trail where you began the loop portion of the hike. Turn left onto the yellow-blazed Roaring Kill Trail and follow it back to the trailhead at the parking area, where the hike beganPublication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 11/05/2015
This loop hike passes by a former bluestone quarry and climbs Sugarloaf Mountain, with panoramic views.
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
Plan Ahead and Prepare
- 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.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
- 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.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
- 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.