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Backpacker Magazine – January 2011

Rip & Go: Devil's Path

Conquer the rocks, ridges, and ravines on the East's toughest trail.

by: Sarah L. Stewart

A hiker squeezes through a rocky chute. (Tim Seaver)
A hiker squeezes through a rocky chute. (Tim Seaver)
Key Skill: Harvesting rain water (Supercorn)
Key Skill: Harvesting rain water (Supercorn)
Reader expert Rich Orzol of New York City (Courtesy)
Reader expert Rich Orzol of New York City (Courtesy)

trip iconTAKE IT WITH YOU
Download a printable version of this entire trip right here.


DO IT

The devil, they say, is in the details, so here they are: 22 miles, 18,000 feet of elevation change, six Catskill peaks. But the rewards are commensurate with the effort. Rich Orzol (next page), 40, says, “With its deep wilderness feel, you kind of get lost in it.” From Prediger Road trailhead (1), follow red blazes to a three-way intersection (2) at 1.6 miles and veer right; turn right again .2 mile (3) later to begin a 1,345-foot climb of Indian Head over coffee-table-size boulders. “The whole trail is rocky,” Orzol says, “but this is definitely the rockiest part.” Pause at Sherman Lookout (4) for views over the Hudson River Valley, and scramble up a chute to another lookout with southward views of the Shawangunks. Snap your pictures here, because Indian Head’s actual summit is hemmed in by spruce trees. At mile 4.1, stay straight at Jimmy Dolan Notch (5) to the first (false) Twin Mountain summit with a 180-degree vista of Indian Head. From Twin’s true 3,640-foot top (6), descend to  Pecoy Notch (7). Go straight for a 1,000-foot ascent up Sugarloaf’s 3,800-foot, tree-topped summit (8), then stay straight at the next two trail junctions during a nearly mile-long, 1,200-foot descent past lichen-covered slabs. Stay straight at the intersection (9) with Mink Hollow Road; camp in .1 mile to the south at the lean-to, and fill water from a spring to the left of the trail. Next day, tackle the 1,240-foot, root-tangled climb to Plateau Mountain’s 3,800-foot, big-vista summit (10), with views of Hunter and West Kill Mountains, then start a joint-pounding descent to NY 214. Cross a footbridge and climb .6 mile to Diamond Notch Falls (11). Refuel before climbing 2.3 miles to Buck Ridge Lookout (12). End the roller coaster with a final 2,030-foot descent to your car at Spruceton Road (13). Short on time but full of energy? Veteran Northeast hikers consider a dayhike of Devil’s Path a must-have notch on their trekking poles.


ice age trail
Trip Planner
Shuttle From Kingston, take NY 28 west for 29 miles and turn right at NY 42. In seven miles, bear right on Spruceton Rd., and park at the trailhead in seven miles.

Trailhead Take NY 42 north four miles to NY 23A. Head east and turn right on Bloomer Rd. 11 miles later. Take rights onto Platte Cove Rd., and Prediger Rd. 

Gear up Gander Mountain, 705 Frank Sottile Blvd., Kingston; (845) 382-2500; Gander Mountain, 705 Frank Sottile Blvd., Kingston; (845) 382-2500; gandermountain.com

Trip data backpacker.com/hikes/8836



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Rebecca
Jan 26, 2012

That sounds like one incredible journey! I would love to try it out sometime. My husband would rather go hunting then rock climbing. I have to try and find some <a href="http://www.hercamoshop.com">women's hunting supplies</a> so I can go with him. Maybe I'll try and talk him into going rock climbing with me.

Dorothy
May 03, 2011

I have heard that this traverse can be done in 1 day and I wanted to see if I could do it. I am no super hiker so I am happy to say that I did it this past weekend! It took a long time (18hrs) but that was the key for me and my friend to successfully finish. We paced ourselves so we wouldn't burn out like some of the other people in our group who had to bail out earlier, we took snack breaks every 2-3 miles to keep our energy up. It is a tough trail with many up and downs, and at times scary scrambling so it's not for beginners but if you've done long day hikes (15-20miles)with a decent elevation change and know how to pace yourself and are mentally strong, you can do it!

marco3x
Mar 04, 2011

This is not a trek for those who are not in top shape.
It is long and arduous, without a break. It is a spectacular
hike. Don't even think of doing it in one day. Two day
minimum. All preparation is worth it. I've trekked all
over US and this trail makes you feel part as if you and
The environment are one. Awesome yet intimate. You
Become the trail.

david
Feb 17, 2011

Note that Platte Cove Road is closed from Early November to April. I've walked the Devil's Path many times Years ago I mapped parts for the New York Walk Book. There was a group that did the entire trail in one day. I was asked to join, declined. I was asked could I do it. I answered "it depends on who was chasing me". Why did you not include Hunter and Rusk between Plateau? And why not be more specific about Westkill ?

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