This is one of the toughest loops in the Catskills. With awe-inspired views, extensive first growth and subalpine forests, lean-tos, designated campsites, and mountain springs with sparkling chilled water this trip has something for everyone.
Just the Burroughs Range alone is a thigh buster but add to it the ascent to the col between Giant Ledge and Little Slide Mountain and then the descent to Woodland Valley State Campground your body will be screaming for some mercy. This should get a few of the perverse hiking gang going.The loop has some impressive stats.
The length of the loop is about 15 miles and you have 3 trail-heads to pick from to start all which give this trip a different flavor. If you start at the Woodland State Campground and ascend The Wittenberg the ascent in this trip is about 5,000’ total. This includes all ascents, not just along the Range Trail. The most notable ascents are from the campground to The Wittenberg and the climb on the north side of Slide Mountain.
Camping opportunities present themselves often making this a nice 2 or 3-day backpacking trip. If you wish to avoid some of the up hills, one option is hiking from the Slide Mountain Trailhead.
Tip: you can shave some climbing by using a connector trail via the Winnisook Club property.
Also, note that there is a fee at the Woodland Valley Campground trailhead while the campground is operating, usually May thru October. Remember this if starting your loop from Woodland Valley Campground.
|Area resources: NYS DEC Region 3, 21 South Putt Corners Road, New Paltz, NY 12561
Telephone: (845) 256-3000
Prerecorded Trail Conditions Report: (845) 256-3188, ext. 4182
Forest Preserve Management: (845) 256-3083
Fishing: (845) 256-3161
Law Enforcement: (845) 256-3013
Forest Rangers: (845) 256-3026
Hunting: (845) 256-3098
Woodland Valley Campground: (845) 688-7647 (mid-May thru mid-October)
|Maps: NYNJTC Map # 143 (Buy Here)
|Trails referenced: Wittenberg – Cornell – Slide Trail (AKA Burroughs Range Trail) Red Marked
Terrance Mountain Trail – Yellow Marked
Curtis-Ormsbee Trail – Blue Marked
Phoenicia East Branch Trail – Yellow Marked
|Media: See our photo gallery of this area.|
|Campground to Terrace Mountain Trail||2.6 miles||Some stiff climbing, connector trail to lean-to .9 miles off Burroughs Range Trail. Seasonal views. Passing through first growth at 2,350 – 2,626’ elevation and then old burns.|
|Terrace Mountain Junction to Summit of The Wittenberg||1.3 miles / 3.9 miles from TH||Steep to exceedingly steep climbing (short level spots). Enter first growth at about 2,975’ (1) which you’ll remain in until about 3,500’ elevation heading down Slide Mountain toward the Slide Mountain Trailhead (1). Pass junction with Long Path descending to Phoenicia at 0.5 miles from Terrace Mtn. Jct., Subalpine / boreal forest. Ledge climbing, excellent views. Seasonal spring just below summit. Summit of The Wittenberg.|
|Summit of The Wittenberg to the summit of Cornell Mountain||0.8 miles / 4.7 miles from TH||Climb the “Crown of Cornell” via a deep V cut in rock face, hike along the “Bruin’s Causeway and narrow ridge/col. Great views back to The Wittenberg. No real great view from actual summit of Cornell.|
|Summit of Cornell to spring in the col between Cornell & Slide.||1.45 miles / 6.15 miles from TH||Steep descent off Cornell. Wonderful views of Slide from viewpoints on descent. Enter large section of Red Spruce. Excellent wilderness experience. Several designated campsites. Spring.|
|Spring in col to summit of Slide Mountain||0.85 miles / 7 miles from TH||Exceedingly steep and exciting climb along the north ridge of Slide. Excellent spring below summit of Slide. Some of the best views on the trip along the ascent of the north ridge. Climbing into a largely Balsam Fir dominated forest. Burroughs memorial plaque on “summit rock”. Actual summit beyond at old fire tower site.|
|Summit of Slide Mountain to Junction with Curtis Ormsbee Trail.||0.8 miles / 7.8 miles from TH||Junction provides option to leave Burroughs Range Trail and descend on the much prettier Curtis Ormsbee Trail. This add a bit of distance but is worth the effort.|
|Continue on Burroughs Range Trail to the junction Phoenicia East Branch Trail.||1.3 miles / 9.1 miles from TH||A long easy descent, beautiful boreal forest up high, passes near the top of the historic (and abandon) James Dutcher Steps Trail. View north after Curtis Ormsbee Trail. Passes designated camp site (on left on descent). Water possible in this area.|
|Junction Phoenicia East Branch Trail to Slide Mountain Trailhead||0.7 miles / 9.8 miles from TH||Now on Phoenicia East Branch Trail. Descends to trailhead. Passes spring on right. There is usually a port-a-potty at trailhead, but don’t count on it being clean.|
|Slide Mountain Trailhead to Panther Mountain Trailhead.||1.9 miles / 11.7 miles from TH||This section is a pleasant road walk. Initially climbing a few hundred feet to the historic Winnisook Club then a long at times steep downhill. Be careful of auto traffic, especially in the “s” turn before the Panther Mountain Trailhead. There is usually a port-a-potty at trailhead, but don’t count on it being clean.
Tip: One way to save some climbing is to use a trail that cuts through some Winnisook Club property. This trail will connect to the junction with the Giant Ledge/Panther Trail. The entrance to this trail is directly after the Winnisook Club lake. It is on the right. It saves you the descent to the Panther Trailhead and the almost 800’ ascent to the Giant Ledge / Panther trail junction.
|Giant Ledge Parking Area to Junction with Giant Ledge / Panther Mountain trail.||0.7 miles / 12.4 miles from TH||Climb almost 800’ to trail junction. Provides access to Giant Ledge / Panther Mountain. Nice forest. Trail a point can have poor footing. Designated campsites are found just past this junction going toward Woodland Valley Campground or on Giant Ledge. One can find primitive sites suitable for camping off trail in this area after the junction or on Giant Ledge.|
|Giant Ledge / Panther Mountain trail to abandon trail to Woodland Valley||1.5 miles / 13.9 miles from TH||This section descends northward along contour lines at times almost level and times steeper. to Woodland Creek a drainage off Giant Ledge. Good place to get water. Do not enter abandon trail to Woodland Valley as it crosses private land.|
|Abandon trail to Woodland Valley and return to Woodland Valley State Campground||1.5 miles / 15.5 miles from TH||Descend ridge and cross stream make steep climb up Fork Ridge then descend to campground.|