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Rip & Go: Devil’s Path

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

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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