Shoulder of Black Dome Mountain from Black Head

Best Hikes: Black Dome Mountain from Big Hollow Road

The trailhead for Black Dome Mountain, Blackhead Mountain and the Escarpment Trail is reached at the end of Big Hollow Road and space for about 8-9 cars exist. When the lot is full one can find parking along the road. You will find a kiosk and trail register here, please sign in. The trail leaves from the lot walking the last few yards on the road.

The trail turns right (southeast) just before a bridge over the Batavia Kill. The bridge goes to private property. The trail now progressing through a nice hemlock area. The Batavia Kill on your left endows you with a wonderful relaxing feel that will help melt your cares away. Stop and take time to visit the stream and sit by its edge to enjoy its sparkle. The path reaches a wooden bridge as you cross the stream. This bridge is fairly new as it has been replaced twice as it was washed out in recent floods (1996 & 2012).

Chris crossing new bridge near trail-head
Chris crossing new bridge near trail-head

Just after crossing the bridge look to your right up stream for the remains of an old dam. This dam must have controlled the flow of water for a past sawmill which was in operation near the trail junction ahead. The mill was operated by William Phelps a local lumber man in the 1800’s.

Old Dam and Spillway for Logging Operations
Old Dam and Spillway for Logging Operations

The trail still level crosses another foot bridge and reaches a trail junction at 0.5-miles.

Chris on the second bridge crossing the Batavia Kill
Chris on the second bridge crossing the Batavia Kill

The yellow trail to the left (east) is the Batavia Kill Trail and will take you to the former site of the Batavia Kill lean-to and a couple of designated campsites. This old logging road climbs steeply to the Escarpment Trail and will offer the hiker with nice options for day hikes and camping.

Trail sign at Junction with Batavia Kill Trail and Black Dome Trail
Trail sign at Junction with Batavia Kill Trail and Black Dome Trail

At this junction, you will find a confluence of the Batavia Kill and a tributary draining Black Dome Mountain. Continuing on the red blazed Black Dome Range Trail which starts to climb at an easy grade. The footing of the trail up to this point has been somewhat rough and wet. The footpath now becomes easier to walk. The trail now climbs and crosses a stream a couple more times without the aid of a bridge. These stream crossing may be dry.

At just about 1-mile a yellow trail marker indicates a pipe fed spring just east of the trail. The path starts a steeper climb with the aid of switchbacks up closer to the notch. The notch named Lockwood Gap is about 3,450 feet and 1.4-miles from the trailhead.

Lockwood Gap is a wind swept place. By this time in the hike you are well into the Blackheads first growth forest which according to Dr. Michael Kudish begins at elevations of 2,910 to 3,150 feet depending on your place in the range. This first growth tract encompasses about 3.3 square miles from Blackhead Mountain to Thomas Cole Mountain.

3500 foot on Black Dome, no camping above this elevation, except in winterAs the hiker ascends into the notch the hardwoods become smaller but still stand straight. The trail for Black Dome turns right (west) and climbs 530 feet in .6 miles. Climbing out of the notch the hiker reaches the 3500-foot sign quickly and reaches a limited view at about 3,600 feet.

However, the best view on Black Dome is yet to come!

At 3,750 feet the path reaches a substantial rock outcrop and the hiker is forced to scramble up this section then reaching the best view on the mountain. The small ledge sits off the trail and can be accessed by a short spur trail. This is the point to stop and rest.

The vista opens to a 180-degree visual delight. The eye tries rigorously to capture the moment. The mass of Blackhead with its rock ledges is center stage as you gaze over Lockwood Gap.

View of Blackhead Mountain from Black DomeScott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking
View of Blackhead Mountain from Black Dome

As a cool breeze caresses the skin and the mind . The panorama to the south contains Lake Capra and Colgate which anchor the east valley below, to the southwest is Hunter Mountain and south are the eastern peaks of Devils Path. North Mountain and Stopple Point rise to the left of High Peak and Round Top.

Lake Capra which anchor the East Kill Valley below. North Mountain and Stopple Point rise to the left of High Peak and Round Top.Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking
Lake Capra which anchors the East Kill Valley below. Stopple Point rises to the left of High Peak and Round Top.

To the North are Windham High Peak and the lesser summits of the escarpment. Have your camera ready!

As one continues to ascend the mountain the forest flora begins to change. Reaching about 3,800 feet the summit evergreens start to take over. The smell of Balsam Fir invades the air and your senses. The smell further relaxes the mind providing another dimension to the hike. The trail ascends at a moderate grade moving over some small rock outcrops.

The summit of Black Dome Mountain

View from the summit ledge on Black Dome looking south
View from the summit ledge on Black Dome looking south

The grade levels and the Summit is reached at 2.0-miles. The summit is home to a mixture of Balsam Fir and some and Paper Birch. The summit a has nice rock ledge to sit and view the southern horizon. The view is extensive containing High Peak and its neighbor Round Top, all of the Devils Path Mountains and steep cloves (east to west, Indian Head, Twin, Sugarloaf, Plateau, Hunter and part of Westkill), Rusk, Evergreen and more. In the distance behind Plateau and Hunter through Stony Clove are Wittenberg, Cornell, Slide, and part of Table.

From Black Dome summit: Twin, Sugarloaf, Plateau, with Stony Clove and Ridge on Hunter. Southern Catskills on Horizon.
From Black Dome summit: Twin, Sugarloaf, Plateau, with Stony Clove and Ridge on Hunter. Southern Catskills on Horizon.

Inscribed into the summit ledge are the names of people who have been at this place dating back to the 1800’s. Careless individuals are still defacing this spot today with this outdated scheme for proving their ascent. I consider it well written about the Catskills by Dr. Peter J.R. Buttner, Past Director of Environmental Management for New York State,

“Just as the form and shape of these Mountains are nonrenewable natural resource so are the rock outcrops found throughout the region. Once destroyed, removed or otherwise modified, their unique reflection of a time some 350 million years ago will be lost forever.”

Hence the axiom goes “take only pictures and leave only foot prints!” From the summit the trail heads west dropping into a wonderful notch between Black Dome and Thomas Cole and to the trailhead on Elmer Barnum Road.

In the winter this peak is splendid. With cold clear days the view seems endless. With its short distance from the trailhead makes this a good winter day hike. Its southern views on sunny days will warm the hiker. Do not attempt this mountain without snowshoes and possibly crampons. The east side of Black Dome requires fastidiousness.

Windham-Blackhead Range Wilderness
Contact Information:DEC Region 4 Stamford
Office hours: M-F 8:30AM - 4:30PM
Phone: (607) 652-7365;
Backcountry Emergency: (Search, Rescue & Forest Fire): 518-408-5850 or dial 911
Location: Towns of Cairo, Hunter, Jewett, Windham and Durham in Greene County
Map: View Windham-Blackhead Range Wilderness Map - PDF (2.82 MB)
Amenities:Dining opportunities, as well as gas, food and other supplies can be found in the nearby communities of Cairo, Windham and Palenville.
Weather:Blackhead Mountain weather

Map to Trailhead

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