Hiking: Indian Head Mountain - Devil's Path Challenge with Hal Brodie & Alan O'Mara - November 24, 2015

Icy crack the author and his companion
traversed as they hiked over Indian Head
The Devil's Path Challenge with Hal Brodie and Alan O'Mara

Hal and I decided to mix the Intermediate RIP hikes, with more challenging hikes in alternate weeks. We picked the Devil’s Path as a challenge we could do in segments. I had done all the peaks, but except for Sugarloaf, they were done as an out and back.

Indian Head is the first peak on the Devil’s Path, so that’s where we started.We were at the Prediger Road Trail Head, and on the trail at 9:10 AM.  Temperatures ranged from 26 to 36 degrees, and as the day was clear with no wind, it was perfect.

We went up the Devil’s Path, turning left and hiked 1.8 miles to where the trail intersected with the Overlook Trail. Rolling hills, and flat terrain made it a good warmup & pleasant start to the hike. We only went up 60’ or so, so that gave us an idea of how steep the rest to the hike would be. I’ve done Indian Head before, but only as an up and out from Jimmy Dolan Notch. After a short distance the Devil’s Path turned north and we started to climb. The trail was very steep & icy in spots, especially one about 35’ crack where Hal had to pull me up onto the top ledge.

On the way to the summit there were many open views thru the bare trees, and one small outcropping with great vistas. We had lunch on a huge outcropping, right on top of the icy crack. There were great views of the Hudson River, Overlook Mountain, the Shawgunks, and the Taconics.

We met three young guys from Brooklyn, who maneuvered the crack in about one quarter of the time it took us. We told them we were doing a loop over Indian Head, and they liked that idea better than going back the way they came.

At 1:30 PM after the lunch stop of 30 minutes, we were back on the trail. One steep part remained before we crossed the ridge to reach the summit. On the way down to Jimmy Dolan Notch, after crossing the summit, we had to be very careful, because of multiple icy patches.  We reached the Notch, and worked our way back about 1000’ on the Jimmy Dolan Trail, which is one of the rockiest that I remember in the Catskills. It seemed like it took forever before we were back at Prediger Road, arriving around 5 PM. It was getting dark & the moon was visible.

The hike was exhausting & challenging, but we were very satisfied because of what we had accomplished.
7:55 hours on the trail
6.9 miles
Total Ascent of 1893’
Maximum elevation of 3575’,
Descent of 1928’
Minimum elevation of 1991’

Read about Hal and Alan's adventure and challenge on Twin Mountain, the next peak along the Devil's Path.

Alan O'Mara is a member of the Catskill 3500 Club, and the Rip Van Winkle Hiking Club (RIP's). He leads intermediate hikes for the RIP's, and alternate weeks do other mostly more challenging hikes with a close group of friends who are all retired, and hike on Wednesday's to avoid the crowds on the trails.  Alan is 72 years old and started doing the 35 Catskill Peaks in 2009 at 65. I finished the requirements for the 3500' Club membership in 2012 at 69. Alan has 16 Winter Peaks done, and plans to work on more this winter.

Need more information on hiking and planning your 
trips to the Catskill Mountains 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 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.  

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.