Hiking: Hunter Mountain via the Devil's Path & Becker Hollow Trails | Catskill Mountains, NY | 2/15/09

On what was probably one of the clearest days that I’ve seen in a while, we made our way over Hunter Mountain (4040’) following the Devil’s Path up from Stony Clove Notch to the Devil’s Acre Lean-to and then heading over to the summit and then down the Becker Hollow Trail to its trailhead where we had a second car. The weather cooperated fully and it was a perfect February day in just about every aspect. The sky was a dark blue, the temperatures hovered somewhere in the upper 20s and the wind, except for in a few places and on the tower, stayed pretty gentle.

We dropped a car off at the Becker Hollow Trailhead and then headed over to the Devil’s Tombstone parking area and began the ascent up Hunter from there on the Devil’s Path. I kind of forgot just how steep that first mile is since I had last climbed it years ago as an Assistant Forest Ranger. You gain about 1,500 vertical feet in that first mile.

Hunter Mountain Hike - 2/15/09
Hunter Mountain Hike - 2/15/09
Hunter Mountain Hike - 2/15/09
The conditions weren’t bad as the snow that was on the trail was well packed and even the untouched snow had enough of a crust on it that you could just about walk on it. That said, there were some icy spots and while you could do most of the trail without crampons, we did put them on to make it easier.
Hunter Mountain Hike - 2/15/09
Hunter Mountain Hike - 2/15/09
Hunter Mountain Hike - 2/15/09
Hunter Mountain Hike - 2/15/09
I’m not a huge fan of hiking with crampons on though, so as soon as the trail leveled off a bit after that first mile, off they came. From there, we didn’t have any trouble on the trail without the crampons and we just barebooted it all the way to the summit.

As we looped around the mountain we did end up getting more exposed to the wind. The trail follows an old railroad bed right on the edge of the mountain and the wind was blowing pretty well. That meant it was time to dress back up with a shell and stuff after I had dropped several layers coming up the mountain.
Hunter Mountain Hike - 2/15/09
Between the recent ice storms and the ones we’ve had the last few years, the damage to the trees is very noticeable. Just about every hardwood tree above 3500 feet has some damage. That’s opened up some views along the trail that are pretty nice but has also resulted in plenty of blowdown across the trail and stuff hanging in the trail. The trail definitely needs some clearing but it’s not impassable. However the more open views were much appreciated.

After another mile or so on the Devil’s Path we got to the trail junction with the Hunter Mountain Trail and we went down to the Devil’s Acre Lean-to (it’s like 0.1 miles from the intersection) and had a quick lunch so we didn’t cool down too much.
Hunter Mountain Hike - 2/15/09
Hunter Mountain Hike - 2/15/09
Hunter Mountain Hike - 2/15/09
Then we headed along yellow Hunter Mountain Trail. This trail climbs up the remaining 500 feet or so to the summit area of Hunter. I thought it was a pretty forgettable walk, though there are occasional glimpses out as you get near the edge of the mountain when you realize you are walking along in a high altitude forest.

After just under a mile and a half, the trail comes to the trail junction with the Becker Hollow Trail.
Hunter Mountain Hike - 2/15/09
On the side of Hunter that’s opposite of Becker Hollow there’s a short side trail that leads out to a tremendous view.
Hunter Mountain Hike - 2/15/09
Hunter Mountain Panorama
Hunter Mountain Panorama
Hunter Mountain Panorama
It’s probably about a 270 degree view to the east and the south. You can see Slide Mountain and the southern Catskills, Spruceton Valley, and mountains off to the east. It’s a pretty impressive view, even when you consider the 360 degree view you’ll get from the Fire Tower on Hunter.

We spent some time here taking in the view and then headed over to the Tower. Considering the wind and stuff we just walked by. I really wasn’t in the mood the get cold before we started heading down.

Then we headed down the Becker Hollow Trail. Damn, that trail is steep. I had done it back in my Forest Ranger days when I came up and then down to spend the night on the summit, but when you add some ice and snow, it just seems even steeper.
Hunter Mountain Hike - 2/15/09
The tree damage in this area has the added benefit of opening up some really impressive views as you make your way down the ravine.
Hunter Mountain Hike - 2/15/09
The Becker Hollow Trail is about 2 miles long and about 90% of that is either heading down steeply or at least heading down at a steady clip. There’s probably about a 1/3 of a mile at the end that’s flat as you walk out along the valley.
Hunter Mountain Hike - 2/15/09
We never put the crampons back on as we made our way down Becker Hollow. In a few places it would have been easier, but for the most part, there was enough broken up snow on the trail that with just boots we had plenty of grip. If I had been going up though, I would have put them on once it got steep.

Signed out, got the car warmed up, picked up the other car and then headed home for a nice warm shower.
Hunter Mountain Hike - 2/15/09
Hunter Mountain Hike - 2/15/09
The entire set of photos from the hike are in this Flickr set.

Info on the Hunter Mountain Fire Tower.



Need more information on hiking and planning your 
trips to the Catskills and the Catskill Park?




Need a hiking map for your hikes in the Catskills? We recommend the Trail Conference's Catskills Trails 6-Map Set. These maps are the best available for hiking and outdoor adventures in the Catskills and the Catskill Park. The Catskill Center offers a regional map of the Catskills that provides an excellent overview of the region, it's roadways, attractions and trails. National Geographic Trails Illustrated also produces a map for the region. 

How about a guidebook? Both AMC and ADK publish trail guides to the Catskill Region and thAdventures in the Outdoors Bookstore carries many more books and maps that will help you as you hike and explore the Catskill Mountains region. 

If you are looking for more information about the extensive history of the Catskill Mountains and the Catskill Park, we would suggest reading The Catskills, From Wilderness to Woodstock and The Catskill Park, Inside the Blue Line. For the most comprehensive natural history of the Catskill Park and the Forests of the Catskill region, we recommend reading The Catskill Forest, a History by Michael Kudish.

   

Comments