The Catskill Mountains in upstate New York is a famous quick vacation spot for New Yorkers and those who enjoy outdoor activities like camping or hiking. This is a different New York from the one frequently shown on TV, which features busy cities, traffic jams, and skyscrapers. In this part of the state, tall trees and mountain peaks outnumber the buildings.

Devil’s Path is one of the most challenging trails in the tri-state area, which is why it’s a common bucket-list destination for nature lovers. Those who have finished the trail have said that there are certain points where it felt less like hiking and more like scaling a mountain due to the steep climbs and rock pathways. In this guide, we will tell you how to prepare for the hike of a lifetime.

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Preparing For Devil's Path

Hikers should come prepared before taking on the Devil’s Path. It’s a challenging hike that many people have successfully completed. However, there have been reported deaths in the area too. The best thing to do is prepare well and have a plan before heading out.

First of all, this hiking trail is for experts. Hikers also need to be physically fit, especially those who wish to finish the entire trail within a day. Hikers can reach up to two summits in one day, but more ambitious hikers can go all the way. In general, hikers should start at dawn and go on a day when the weather forecast is good.

Hikers should prepare enough supplies to last the entire hike. Here are some items to bring:

  • High-calorie snacks/meals
  • Tent/sleeping bag if staying overnight
  • Water and energy drinks
  • Iodine water purification tablets/hydration packs
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • Trekking poles
  • Extra socks

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The Route

Many state parks have hiking trails of varying difficulty levels—some even have paved or boardwalk paths. The Devil’s Path is not one of these. It will test a person’s physical and mental strength as they take on the challenging paths which include rock trails, cliffs, and limited water access.

Devil’s Path is about 25 miles total, goes through a mountain range, and reaches 5 of the Catskill High Peaks. Hikers usually take the East to West Route, leaving their car at the west (near the exit) and starting at the eastern point—starting at Prediger Road and ending at Spruceton Road.

The trail starts quite easy, with low to moderate elevation, but quickly ascends to steeper elevation. Views are amazing at the peaks but don’t linger too long unless you plan to stay the entire weekend.

Mountain #1: Indian Head Mountain

The first ascent begins at Indian Head Mountain. Take a quick stop at Sherman’s Lookout to enjoy the view and take photos. Be careful as you descend into the Jimmy Dolan Notch. Much like the drops in the entire trail, this one is steep. Beginners can stop their hike here. There is a pathway that loops back to the starting point of the trail.

Mountain #2: Twin Mountain

As the name suggests, Twin Mountain has two peaks. Enjoy a view of the clouds at the south summit of the Twin Mountains. Enjoy this path while you can, as the hike only gets more difficult from this point. The end of the descent into Pecoy Notch offers another option for a quick exit.

Mountain #3: Sugarloaf Mountain

Hikers will be welcomed into Sugarloaf Mountain through a steep ascent. Just like the previous mountains, the steep ascents are followed by steep descents. The one in Sugarloaf Mountain goes into Mink Hollow. The Mink Hollow shelter is a good place to take a break or set up camp. Those who are passing through can refill their water bottles in this area.

Mountain #4: Plateau Mountain

A steep climb up will take hikers into the flat summit of Plateau Mountain. Try Danny’s Lookout and Orchid Point to get amazing views and take a break. Head down to Stony Clove Notch and into Devils’ Tombstone Campground to spend the night.

Mountain #5: Hunter Mountain

Hunter Mountain provides access to a stream where hikers can refill their water bottles. Bring water purification tablets to make sure it’s safe to drink. Eagle-eyed hikers might even find edible blackberries and raspberries!

Mountain #6: West Kill Mountain

This trail saves the highest peak for last. Prepare yourself for Saint Anne’s Peak—a short, yet very steep climb. The steep descent following Saint Anne’s Peak leads to the parking area at Spruceton Road.

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Camping In The Catskills

Those who intend to stay for more than a day should consider camping sites and lean-tos. Here are some options:

  • Devil’s Tombstone Campground (state-owned) | Cost: $16 per night for New York residents; $21 for out-of-state visitors
  • Reservation is highly recommended
  • Devil’s Kitchen Lean-to
  • Dibbles Quarry Designated Campsite
  • Stoney Clove Campground
  • Devil’s Acres Lean-to
  • Diamond Notch Lean-to

Potential Hazards

  • Steep climbs and descent
  • Temperature changes
  • Limited water access especially during summer
  • Lingering snow and ice until May

Transportation And Access

  • Airports: Albany International Airport and Stewart International Airport
  • Shuttle Service: Smiley’s Transport

The Best Time to Go

The best time to take the hike is anytime between May to October (Spring to Fall). Winter might bring harsh weather conditions and can be even more dangerous. During the summer, the sun’s heat can be brutal. Streams might also dry up, limiting sources of water.

The Challenge Is Worth It

The Devil’s Path Hiking Trail is one of the most sought-after hikes in the country. Not everyone can do it, but most can prepare for it. Hiking the full trail is daunting to most people. Beginners can form a shorter route, while experienced and physically fit hikers can try going through the entire trail.

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