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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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27 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,

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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

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

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

  7. 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!!!

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. kiscodad March 1, 2015 at 1:32 pm #

    I’m intrigued and a bit sacred about attempting part of the Devil’s Path later this year. My plan is to do Indian Head and continue on to Twin Mt. before backtracking and descending via Jimmy Dolan Notch. I usually hike alone, is this wise or should O look for an accomplice?

    • Philip Werner March 2, 2015 at 8:39 am #

      How would a partner help exactly? I’m not following you.

      • West_coast_is_best March 12, 2015 at 5:08 am #

        I am planning on hiking this solo as a day hike late next week, Just wondering if anyone knows the conditions? This will be my first time hiking in the Catskills and just wondering whether I need snowshoes or if the trail is totally broken.

        Also would you vets recommend an Ice Axe here? Im planning on bringing one, just for some piece of mind, but if its unneeded ill leave it at home

        Thanks

  14. JH March 24, 2015 at 9:27 pm #

    West Coast – I’d also like to know how you made out. Considering this week. BT post if you decide to go!

    • starlines March 24, 2015 at 10:03 pm #

      Hey BT, JH, West_coast,

      I just went for a day hike of Indian Head with 2 friends this past Saturday so I have an idea of the conditions (just posted photos to G+, for anyone interested) for the first peak. The area is particularly beautiful with the snow, but it is more slippery on certain climbs.

      As of Saturday night, there’s still a foot or more of snow on the ground. On the trail the snow is packed decently tightly enough that we didn’t need snowshoes, but we still found ourselves sinking in ankle / knee / thigh-deep in some areas.

      Footwear: I opted not to bring snowshoes but they might’ve helped. I did wear microspikes (Kahtoola) on the recommendation of the park ranger and preserve manager, and I saw just one other person on the trail who had crampons strapped to his pack.

      I suggest giving them a call in the next day or so to get a sense of whether conditions have changed much since Saturday, as Thursday’s getting up to 50s. The number for the Preserve Office is (607) 652-7365, and the number for the area Park Ranger Christine Nelson is (518) 653-8203.

      Other accessories: All 3 of us used trekking poles with snow baskets and we were fine. An ice axe actually might’ve helped for some of the steeper slopes on Indian Head but we were able to do without.

      Let the rest of us know how it looks if any of you make it out over the next weekend…I actually want to go back again within the next month to hike more of the peaks.

      Happy hiking!

  15. Shintaro Gokuyami April 13, 2015 at 10:35 am #

    Anyone for a backpacking trip in DP this May?

    • Pablo April 22, 2015 at 5:11 pm #

      Hello, Shintaro,
      I am following the Long Path. This weekend (25 and 26 April) I plan to go Sections 20 and 21 ( Phoenicia Noch -Silver Hollow – Platte Clove Road). I have a car and if you also have a car , we can arrange the beginning and end of each stage . During the month of May I continure route in the Catskills . If you want, we can arrange some stage together.

      • Rob April 26, 2015 at 3:46 pm #

        Pablo, I’m planning to hike this trail in a few weeks. (May 22) Can you give me an idea about the trail’s condition? As far as water, major issues, and trail markings as well as anything else major to note. Thanks and best wishes on your travels.

        • Pablo May 4, 2015 at 8:38 pm #

          Hello, Rob.
          Finally I decided to wait until May to tour section 21 of the Long Path ( from Silver Hollow Notch to Platte Clove Road : Plateau, Sugarloaf, Twin, and Indian Head Mountains) .
          I will go out on Saturday May 16 at 6:00 a.m. from Silver Hollow Nocht , intending to walk far to get reach . If possible, I will do the complete stage, and if I see that it is too much for my strength, I have thought about sleeping on the trail. I hope the outside temperature permits bivouac as to reduce weight does not take tent.
          Any advice from the experts?

  16. Hiking Flea April 22, 2015 at 11:55 am #

    All these comments are very helpful! I’m also planning to hike DP this year-looking at a potential weekend in May. By that time I’m expecting that snowshoes won’t be needed, although I’m unsure about spikes. Hopefully the snow will be gone by then.

    My question for those of you who have hiked some of this: how technical are some of the climbs. I don’t mind them being difficult, but I want to be better prepared if I’m doing any rock climbing of sorts. I’ve hiked a great deal in the Adirondacks, but never the Cats.

    • MG May 1, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

      I’ve been through all of the DP, and if you’re sticking to the trail (which you should) the climbs / scrambles might at most be bouldering “V0″. No need for anything different from your normal hiking gear; just some basic scrambling skills and the ability to use your hands in going up or down.

  17. Cocconino June 13, 2015 at 10:55 am #

    Has anyone hiked the entirety of the devils path with dogs? I’m planning a trip with my lab mix and pit bull. Both are active and have done long hikes before but I’m concerned they may not be able to make it up some of the steeper inclines. Thanks!

  18. John Downey June 26, 2015 at 8:20 am #

    I want to hike the DP ….. I was wondering if there are any organized groups. I have very little experience backpacking and camping. I have done day hikes …..Indianhead …plateau.

    • Hiking Flea June 26, 2015 at 8:53 am #

      I don’t know if there are any groups who are organizing trips in the Catskills, although I imagine there are. If you would be willing to give backpacking a try in the Adirondacks to get more comfortable, the Northville-Lake Placid Chapter of ADK does section hikes along their trail. Typically 3-4 days, up to 12 miles a day, and there are experienced trip leaders to help you learn about backpacking. You can check out the calendar at http://www.nptrail.org

      • John Downey June 29, 2015 at 3:00 pm #

        Thank you!!! Im going to take a look at the link…:)

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