I’m starting to think of the John Robb Lean-to as a second home with all the trips we made building it and now on other trips up Hunter Mountain. This most recent visit was a hike up the Jeep Trail from Spruceton Valley.
It turned out to be a fairly nice day for the trip, though we did have to hike through a rain shower on the way down. In the morning we have partly cloudy conditions, but then a front went through and after that, things started clearing out again. Temperatures were probably in the upper 60s most of the time, except up at the lean-to where I’d guess it was the upper 50s.
We went up with a group to do some training at the lean-to, so they continued up and over Hunter and on to Southwest Hunter and we just did some work at the lean-to and then headed back down.
The first mile and a half is fairly easy as this is the best part of the old road to the notch between Rusk and Hunter. It's wide and while it does climb to the notch, it does so at a fairly gentle pace that makes for a fairly easy hike.
From the notch, the road narrows down and climbs steeply up to the site of the newly rebuilt John Robb lean-to in just over a half a mile. From there it's another mile to the summit of Hunter Mountain, but after the lean-to the grade drops off quite a bit and in places, the road is flat for quite a ways.
We ran the short workshop when we got to the lean-to and after that was finished and the rest of the group continued climbing, we started a small fire to take the chill out of the air and enjoyed our lunch. The lean-to is in great shape and we didn’t have much to do besides packing out a bit of trash.
The trip down is easy besides a bit of wear and tear on the knees along the steeper, upper section. Once you get down to the notch, you can almost jog down to the car. We did go through a shower after having reached the notch. We heard the next day that up on top of the mountain, it was actually more of a thunderstorm and there was even some hail that came down. We just had a cold rain for about 10 minutes. Once that was over, things dried out and we were out at the vehicles fairly quickly.
That view from the viewpoint just in front of the lean-to is as good as ever...I can't get enough of it, even with all of my visits.
Spruceton Valley Parking Area to Notch – 1.5 miles
Notch to John Robb Lean-to – 0.6 miles
Total Round Trip – 4.1 miles
Roughly 1500 vertical feet of relief (parking area ~2000 feet / Lean-to ~ 3450 feet)
Need more information on hiking and planning your
trips to the Catskills and the Catskill Park?
Read up on the Catskill Park at our Catskill Mountains Information Page for hikes, advice, travel and planning information. We have a Guide to Hiking in the Catskills available and on our sister site, ReviewThis is a Guide to visiting 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 the Adventures 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.