The Devil’s Path: Catskills

The Devil’s Path offers some of the most challenging and beautiful hiking n the Catskills. The trail is 24.75 miles in length and goes over Indian Head (3,573 ft), Twin (3,640 ft), Sugarloaf (3,800 ft), Plateau (3,840 ft) and West Kill (3,880 ft) mountains. Following this ridge line, it also descends steeply into the Jimmy Dolan, Pecoy, Mink Hollow, Stony Clove and Diamond notches which can be extremely dangerous when icy or wet.

The Devils Path in the Catskills

The Devils Path in the Catskills

Most backpackers hike the route in a 1 or 2 night trip. Shelters and camping are available Mink Hollow Lean-to (9.25 miles), Devil’s Tombstone State Campground (13.70 miles) and Devil’s Acre Lean-to (15.85 miles).

The trail is extremely rocky and very steep, traversing talus fields and beautiful balsam summits, while providing breathtaking views. You should assume an average hiking speed of one to one point five miles be hour with a 25 pound backpack. Water sources, both natural and tapped springs, are abundant, even in summer.

The Devil’s Path is not to be underestimated. One particularly memorable highlight for me was a solo ascent of Plateau Mountain from Mink Hollow in the pouring rain in late October. This is a very steep 1,350 foot climb in just under one mile and I literally had to claw my way up with water flowing underfoot the entire way. After summiting, I got a little concerned about my increased hypothermia risk and approaching nightfall, and beat feat to descend.

If you are considering an end-to-end thru, my advice is to preposition your shuttle the night before you begin your hike. Driving distances in this part of the Catskills are always much longer than the crow flies due to the rural nature of the road system and the placement of mountain passes. I’ve never had a security problem leaving my car parked at Catskill trail heads and many are positioned in rural residential areas. The New York DEC also patrols them frequently and you should be fine.

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16 Responses to The Devil’s Path: Catskills

  1. JP October 13, 2009 at 9:55 am #

    Hi there,

    I'm looking to do this with my friend this Saturday in one day. We are going to leave his car at the end of the trail Friday night. Unfortunately we only have one car. Do you know if there are cabs thats we can call? Also, do you know of hotels or bed and breakfasts in the area that are close to the trail head? Thank you,

    • Freal January 10, 2012 at 1:25 am #

      Are you serious? Cabs? LOL!

    • Click August 28, 2012 at 12:22 am #

      JP, did you find a shuttle driver or cab you can recommend? My friend and I also only have 1 car. Thanks!

  2. Earlylite October 13, 2009 at 10:21 am #

    Look for businesses in Phonencia, New York. It's the nearest big town.

  3. g January 4, 2010 at 3:10 pm #

    Did this trip 2 winters ago. It was intense! Ya dont make the milage in winter but its a great challange.

  4. g January 4, 2010 at 3:12 pm #

    A must do for BETH and PATRICK!

  5. Matthew February 10, 2010 at 4:44 am #

    I hiked the entire Devil's Path thirty-four years ago during the summer of 1976 in three days and two nights. I was nine years old and did it with about eight other campers ranging in age from nine to thirteen, and was lead by the hiking counselor of Camp Woodcliff, the sleep-away camp I attended. It was grueling but beautiful: a great introduction to the rigor, power, and majesty of nature — something that I, as a kid from Brooklyn had never experienced. I was so weary and exhausted the first night that I burst into tears while collecting the firewood we used to cook our meal. To this day, hiking Devil's Path remains one of the great memories of my childhood. Though I probably wasn't in shape for it, one of the saving graces of being nine years old is that you can push your body to its limit, and wake up the next day feeling fine.

    I highly recommend hiking this hike, but make you are in shape for it (or at least make sure you're you're nine or ten years old). My feet will probably never again walk Devil's Path, but my mind will continue to return to it.

  6. Earlylite February 10, 2010 at 4:48 am #

    Great memory – thanks for sharing that. I'm missing the Catskills…

  7. Oldman April 23, 2010 at 10:13 pm #

    My very good friend SkidMark(lol) and i just hiked the Dp on April 22nd in 19 hours straight. We nighthiked from predigar rd at 1215am and got to spruceton at 715pm. The weather was sunny and perfect with 40s overnight and 50s midday. Its intense to say the least but amazing to push yourself to the limit and find out you have so much more to give. Its beautiful, peaceful, and awe inspiring but painfully humbling!! And make no mistake, there's stil 2feet plus of snow on those peaks! So climb your mountain people and go cure what ails you!!! Unforgetable!:-) OM out.

  8. Earlylite April 24, 2010 at 12:45 am #

    I'll be back in the Catskills this August. I miss them. You must have had a hell of a hike, especially coming up/down sugerloaf. Crampons?

  9. Oldman May 5, 2010 at 12:26 pm #

    Hi Earlylite. Didn't expect such deep snow at that time. Should have known though since i ski and snowboard the catskills. No ice to speak of but i suggest gators at the very least. Don't use them but short of snowshoes they would've kept the snow out of my boots! lol. Late april, i suggest skipping the shoes. 99% of the hike was snowless. Do look up Gookinade by marathoner Bill Gookin though. Best electrolyte replacement ever!!! I use it for anytime i think the floodgates will open. lol.:p Good luck to ya!!!

  10. P November 29, 2010 at 3:51 pm #

    I was told that Mink Hollow is haunted. I camped out in Mink Hollow one night on a solo trip, and there was some strange activity there that night, which could have been paranormal. I was wondering if anyone has information about the history of Mink Hollow. From what I understand, it was used as a trail going back to the 1790s, and that at one time there were settlers living in Mink Hollow. Anyone have any info about that? Thank you.

  11. Jim January 19, 2014 at 2:53 am #

    518-589-6533 smiley’s cab service. These guys will pick you up in Tannersville drop your car off at either end and drive you to which ever end you want to start at. :-) Happy Hiking!

  12. Ben Bodnar September 28, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

    This is a really useful post.
    Me and my mate started on the 30th of August (after hours of hitchiking) from the carpark near Spruceton Road. We carried about 40 lbs of weight which seriously was a bad idea. We climbed to the top of West Kill Mountain, then descended into Diamond Notch and hitchiked again to Phoenicia. Next year I want to do the rest of the path, obviously without 4 sts of weight… So the poster’s right, this trail shall not be underestimated.
    The only problem with this otherwise good trail is: both trailends are unbelievably hard to reach if you don’t drive.

  13. Mike D October 7, 2014 at 11:53 am #

    This article says that water sources are abundant???!!! When I hiked the DP, we went East-West and there was no water to be found until you get to the TRICKLE at Mink Hollow and before Mink Hollow is some of the toughest 8 miles of backpacking you will find in the northeast. I am starting out with a gallon of water in my pack for my next trip this weekend. Pack water! Part of the reason that it is called the Devil’s Path is because it is notoriously dry!

  14. Ema October 19, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    Mike D is right, the trail is dry…areas on the trail are wet but it is not because of a running spring that you can easily gather water from. Definitely pack water.

    Also, the area around the mink hollow lean to has camping prohibited signs allllll over. I slept there last weekend with 2 friends and by sunset at least 12 people showed up. All of them were intent on setting up and sleeping in their tents…yet, not a single one of them followed regulations. They were all scattered around right off the trail. Please keep in mind that the DEC has guide lines for a reason…camp at least 150 feet away from the trail, roads, and/or water sources, unless designated sites are posted. Always be prepared to camp in a different location than planned, lean tos and primitive sites are first come first serve, if there is no room or you don’t want to share with strangers, have a back up plan or arrive early enough to scout out a site before its completely dark. We would have been totally cool with sharing the lean to with as many people that could fit, but nobody wanted to and some even seemed a little peeved that they weren’t the first ones there.

    All in all, this is one of my favorite trails in the Catskills. Beautiful and challenging.

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