Hiking: Indian Head Mountain | Catskill Mountains | 2/16/08

Indian Head Mountain is located in the northeastern Catskills and is the easternmost mountain in the Devil's Path Range.  A loop over Indian Head Mountain is possible with two different routes.  You can either begin and end at the trailhead at the Platte Clove Preserve on Platte Clove Road or you can begin at the trailhead at the end of Prediger Road.  Both require a bit of backtracking to complete the loop, but either route offers a good length day hike that lets your experience all that Indian Head Mountain offers.


One of my favorite climbs in the Catskills has got to be Indian Head Mountain. It’s a fairly long traverse that takes you up and over this 3573 foot peak.  With the snow conditions a bit harsh for any cross-country skiing, we decided that we would make the trip over Indian Head starting from the Catskill Center property in Platte Clove and ending up at the trailhead on Prediger Road.  We had the option to have two cars, but if you had a single car, you could do a loop from either trailhead.

The snow conditions were pretty variable throughout the trip. Near the start the snow was maybe six inches deep but was the consistency of concrete with a dusting of snow on top, however since the Catskill Center trail isn’t all that difficult, we were able to just walk right up without the crampons.

Indian Head Climb - February 2008
Indian Head Climb - February 2008
The conditions really didn’t change much when we go to the trail junction with the Indian Head Trail. The only difference was that we were the first on the trail since the last rain and snow event so the trail was untracked. We figured we’d go up as far as we could without the crampons since the snow was a bit more breakable (but not deep enough to post hole).

Indian Head Climb - February 2008
Indian Head Climb - February 2008
It wasn’t until we got to the first major vista (the Sherman Overlook) that we ended up putting the crampons on. At that point the snow was getting a bit stiffer and with a few steeper climbs coming up, we figured it was best to have them on from this point.

The conditions were good for views with a clear look across the way at High Peak and over into the Hudson Valley.

Indian Head Climb - February 2008
There are a couple of short steep sections as you continue along but the steepest and most difficult is a small chute that you have to climb to get up to the ‘nose’ of Indian Head Mountain. It’s fairly steep and in the winter is filled with snow and ice.

Indian Head Climb - February 2008
Indian Head Climb - February 2008
Indian Head Climb - February 2008
It wasn’t too bad as there was plenty of snow that had blown in and with the crampons you just really scrambled right up.

The view from the nose was downright spectacular with the blue skies.

Indian Head Climb - February 2008
Indian Head Vista
(if you go to Flickr, view the full-size panorama to get the full-effect)

From there the hike pretty much makes its way across the rest of Indian Head without too many climbs and then begins its descent into Jimmy Dolan Notch. Once that starts, the drop is quick and before you know it, you’re in the notch.

Indian Head Climb - February 2008
From there, it was another 2 miles down to Prediger Road along the Jimmy Dolan Notch Trail.

All in all, it was a long day, but a good hike. It’s been a while since I’ve hiked that long with crampons on – my legs sure felt it that night.

The whole photoset can be viewed on Flickr.

For More Information on Catskills Hiking and Outdoors

Check out our Catskill Mountain Information Page for hikes, advice and planning information.  Need a hiking map for the Catskills?  The Trail Conference publishes the Catskills Trails Map Set, which is the best set of maps available for hiking in the Catskills. How about a guidebook?  Both AMC and ADK publish Trail Guides to the Catskill Region

Guide to Catskill Trails (Forest Preserve, #8) (The Forest Preserve Series)AMC Catskill Mountain Guide, 2nd: AMC's Comprehensive Guide to Hiking Trails in the Catskills (Appalachian Mountain Club)Catskill Trails


  1. We absolutely love the Catskills. Great call on the crampons. We just started carrying Black Diamond Crampons so we can provide for outdoor adventurers like yourself. Keep it up!


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