Best Hikes: Burnt Knob in the Catskills

Burnt Knob fro Acra Point
Average read time 4 min

Burnt Knob is a lower peak in the Windham – Blackhead Wilderness of the Catskill Mountains. It is a peak in the Catskill 67 at 3,180′. This is a wonderful day hike and can be done in a few hours. It has great views and a nice forest to hike through on varied grades.

Hike Length: 4.4 miles - RT to farthest view point

Route Type: Out-and-Back

Total Ascent: 1236 feet

How Hard: Moderate

You can hike to several viewpoints in the Burnt Knob section and do an alternative bushwhack back over the true summit of the mountain rather than retracing your steps on the trail. It is a great winter snowshoe trip of moderate intensity.

Trailhead to Escarpment Trail

The parking area for this hike is located at the end of Big Hollow Road on a gravel road. It is past the actual start of the Burnt Knob – Acra Point Trail by .02 of a mile. This gravel road is seasonally maintained and you may not be able to park at the trailhead parking in the winter. When there is little snow this section of the road and the parking area can be very icy.

The trail enters the woods from Big Hollow Road and almost immediately crosses the Batavia Kill on a footbridge.

The trail register is found after this crossing, please sign in (here’s why).

After the trail register, you will cross a stream which can be tricky during times of high water.

Chris crossing stream heading up Burnt Knob
Chris crossing stream on return from Burnt Knob Copyright Challenged Hiking
After the stream crossing, you will begin a climb through a pretty section of the forest. Hemlocks will cool the way. You will begin to rise above the stream for a bit but always in sight of it. At 0.34 miles you will cross a second stream which drains the slope of Acra Point. Your elevation is 2,375 feet and you will have climbed about 210 feet from the trailhead. This could make a good place to camp at-large if one were hiking the Escarpment Trail and looking for some solitude and good water supply. Although, you’d need to make the descent and climb back to the escarpment.

After the stream, the trail will depart the hemlocks and begin to ascend through a hardwood forest. The trail will climb steadily out of the valley until about 0.8 miles when it levels and reaches the junction with the Escarpment Trail at 1.0 mile. At the junction, you will have gained 635 feet from your start.

Trail sign in the col between Burnt Knob and Acra Point
Trail sign in the col between Burnt Knob and Acra Point Copyright Challenged Hiking

Escarpment trail to views on Burnt Knob

Once on the Escarpment trail, you will turn left and begin your climb to Burnt Knob. The trail does not cross the summit but takes you past several views. From the col after a couple of hundred feet, you will begin your climb up Burnt Knob.

At about .15 mile from the junction, the trail will begin to switchback up the ridge and you’ll reach a limited view at about .23 miles.

Acra Point from the Escarpment Trail heading up Burnt Knob
Acra Point from the Escarpment Trail heading up Burnt Knob Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking
The best views are yet to come. After the last switchback, the trail will slab the hillside. At about 0.4 miles from the junction, you will reach your first view ledge down to your left. Your elevation is about 3,050 feet.

This is an outstanding view of the Blackhead Range and Acra Point which dominates the scene.

Standing on the ledge you will be able to look down into the Black Dome Valley and be able to see how far you’ve traveled and climbed. Just left of Blackhead Mountain you can see Arizona Peak which can be part of a nice backpacking trip from Colgate Lake or North-South Lake along the Escarpment Trail.

Panorama from ledge on Burnt Knob
Panorama from ledge on Burnt Knob (click to enlarge) Copyright Challenged Hiking
You may end your trip here but not continuing on you’ll miss out on more great hiking with minimal effort.

Other views on Burnt Knob

After enjoying the great view, you can continue your hike on to other views. From the ledge, you will hike on essentially level ground to a high point of 3077 feet in 0.3 miles from the last ledge. You will then begin a quick descent of 121 feet to a col. The trail will switchback down and will reach a view at about .85 miles from the trail junction. This is a fine view of Windham High Peak and the Hudson Valley.

View of hill and Windham High Peak on the Escarpment Trail
View of hill and Windham High Peak on the Escarpment Trail Copyright Challenged Hiking
Reaching the col,  you will then climb a bit and descend again toward a hill. The trail climbs the shoulder of the hill and you will reach an outstanding view of Windham High Peak at about 1.22 miles from the trail junction. Each time we have been at this spot we have been battered by the wind. We have unofficially named it Windy Ledge.

View of hill and Windham High Peak on the Escarpment Trail
View of hill and Windham High Peak on the Escarpment Trail Copyright Challenged Hiking
From here you can retrace your steps and enjoy all the views one more time or hike the trail back to the ridge on Burnt Knob and bushwack over the true summit (see map below).

Bushwhack over the summit on return

The distance from leaving the trail is about 0.4 miles over the summit and back to the trail. You will climb 240 feet from the departure of the trail to Burnt Knobs’ actual summit which tops out at 3,188 feet. This is best done when the leaves are down as you can get views to the Hudson Valley and Black Dome Valley.

On the trail, your round trip distance is about 4.4 miles if you go to “Windy Ledge”. This is a nice hike at any time of the year. It makes a nice beginner snowshoe trip as it is never exceedingly steep and you don’t need to drag crampons when there is adequate snow on the ground.

Map of Burnt Knob Trail

Click to see interactive version of this map.

Burnt Knob Trail Map
Burnt Knob Trail Map (click to see interactive map) Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking
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
Cell Service:Never count on your cell phone for rescue. Cell service in the Windham-Blackhead Wilderness is okay and one may have problems in ravines. We have not had problems with service.