One of the Catskill’s most visited and dramatic trails is Devil’s Path. It can make an unforgettable multi-day backpacking experience. It can also be broken down into loops for several nice overnight trips using connector / access trails.
What’s in a name?
The name can be traced to early settlers who thought the Catskill’s were host to the devil. The Devil’s Path mountains were said to be formed by the devil slapping its tail and creating the steep gaps between peaks.
Today, the name is more associated with the ruggedness of the trail.
Here are the facts of the trail:
Length: 24.5 miles
Low point: West Terminus at Spruceton Road, 1,800 ft
High Point: West Kill Mountain, 3,880 ft
Elevation Gain: 8,428 ft
Elevation Lost: 8,690 ft
Major High Peaks Traversed: Indian Head, Twin, Sugar Loaf, Plateau, West Kill
Major High Peaks Nearby (by trail or bushwhacking): Hunter, SW Hunter (Leavitt Peak), North Dome, Sherrill Mountain
Camping: Devil’s Kitchen Lean-to, Dibbles Quarry Designated Campsite, Mink Hollow Lean-to and Designated Campsite, Stony Clove Campground, Devil’s Acres Lean-to, Diamond Notch Lean-to, at-large camping
Major Road Crossing: Rt 214 in Stony Clove
Maps of Devil’s Path (east and west sections)
Click maps to enlarge.
Devil's Path: Mileage & Elevation ChangeNOTE: Estimated elevation gain/loss and Mileage. Elevation gain and loss may be more given the numerous minor rises and drops (less than 90') not accounted for in this table. See maps above for gross elevation change.
|Trail section||Miles||Total Miles||Elevation Gain||Total Gain||Elevation Lost||Total Lost|
|Trailhead to summit of Indian Head||4.6||4.6||1516||1516|
|Indian Head Summit to Jimmy Dolan Notch||0.5||5.1||430||430|
|Jimmy Dolan Notch to South Summit of Twim||0.4||5.5||442||1958|
|South Summit of Twin to Summit||0.8||6.3||153||2111||92||522|
|Summit of Twin to Pecoy Notch||0.6||6.9||814||1336|
|Pecoy Notch to Summit of Sugarloaf||1.1||8.0||994||3105|
|Summit of Sugarloaf to Mink Hollow||1.2||9.2||1204||2540|
|Mink Hollow to Plateau Mountain Summit||1.0||10.2||1243||4348|
|Summit of Plateau to Stony Clove||3.9||14.1||1854||4394|
|Stony Clove to Junction with herd path to SW Hunter||1.9||16||1575||5923|
|SW Hunter herd path to Diamond Notch junction||2.0||18||1237|
|Diamond Notch to East peak summit of Westkill||1.65||19.65||1412||7337|
|East peak of West Kill to West Kill||0.6||20.25||197||7532||77|
|West Kill to St. Anne's Peak||1.91||22.16||198||7730||667|
|St. Anne's Peak to Spruceton Road Parking||2.3||24.46||1624||7999|
Backpacking the Devil’s Path is a serious undertaking
To be quite honest, mountains spare most fools. Having said that, Devil’s Path crosses many mountains and any one of them can prove dangerous. Only experienced backpackers in good physical condition should attempt this traverse. Backpacker Magazine says this about Devil’s Path:
Considered by many the toughest day hike in the Northeast–and possibly the Lower 48…
- Weather (storms, temperature changes, windchill)
- Steep ascents
- Steep descents
- Lack of water, water is rare on the trail especially in summer
- Snow and ice can linger well into May
- Winter starts early and ends late
The trail is generally done east to west. Devil’s Path can be split into two sections with Stony Clove as the geographic reference point. Progression on the trail depends on your fitness, pack weight, comfort on steep terrain, time of the year, trail conditions, and things that may be out of your control (i.e., weather). You’ll need to do a good time control plan for this trip.
Camping can be done at lean-tos (4), designated campsites, state-operated campground (1), and at-large below 3500 feet (except in winter) and 150 feet away from trails, water, and roads. Read more here about camping options on Devil’s Path.
Planning your Devil’s Path trip
As Devil’s Path is a “point-to-point” trail, you will either need 2 cars for shuttling from one trailhead to another or be dropped off and picked up. There are no services specific to this need. As said, the trail is usually hiked from east to west. Dropping your shuttle car at the west terminus and starting the trip at the east. See directions below.
Western Terminus Trailhead/Parking: From Kingston, take NY 28 west for 29 miles and turn right at NY 42. In seven miles, bear right on Spruceton Rd., and park at the trailhead in seven miles.
Eastern Trailhead: Take NY 42 north four miles to NY 23A. Head east and turn right on Bloomer Rd. 11 miles later. Take rights on Platte Cove Rd., and Prediger Rd.
Food and drink:
Backpacking Devil’s Path is normally done in as part of a three-day trip it can however by done in two or longer. Your meal planning should include high-calorie foods. You’ll be expending lots of energy. Also, plan your stops carefully and look for places with water. Water is heavy and adding this to a pack for a multi-day trip can definitely add to the weight. Don’t be fooled, carting less may not be better – do not dehydrate on the trail. To lessen your “water” weight see this post. Contact land managers (below) to get information on water supply as there is minimal water high on the trail.
Food supplies near trailhead:
Forget something? After you leave the Hunter / Tannersville area there is not much in the way of shopping. Here are a few places to try to get some last-minute items.
Tops Friendly Market
Address: 6350 Main St, Tannersville, NY 12485
Address: 6002 Main St, Tannersville, NY 12485
Phone: (518) 991-9369
Resources for planning:
Using a trail guide for planning your trip is essential as is a good map for navigation. The following are guides and maps for the Catskills.
Adirondack Mountain Club – 4th edition of the Catskill Trails and Trails Illustrated map
NYNJTC – map set for the Catskills
Appalachian Mountain Club – Catskill Mountain Guide, 3rd edition, Comprehensive Guide to Hiking Trails in the Catskills
|Indian Head Wilderness & Hunter West Kill 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
|Map:||Map of the Indian Head Wilderness
Map of the Hunter - Westkill Wilderness
|Amenities:||Lodging and dining opportunities, as well as gas, food and other supplies can be found in the nearby communities of Hunter, Tannersville, and Woodstock.|
|Weather:||Hunter Mountain Weather|