Plateau Mountain in the Winter

Chris at the upper elevations of Plateau Roundtop and High Peak in the background
Average read time 7 min

Plateau Mountain derives its name from its long summit ridge, which is relatively flat. Don’t be fooled by its flat ridge; this mountain has excellent views. It does climb a couple of hundred feet to the summit once you have obtained the ridge climbing from Stony Clove. After fresh snow, the upper elevations and long summit ridge of Plateau are excellent.

The Dirt

Hiking Distance:6.2-miles R/TRoute Type:Out-and-back
Total climb:2030′Hike type:Trail
How hard?DifficultTrailhead:Stony Clove/Notch Lake

At 3836′, it is the 10th highest peak in the Catskills and the second tallest on Devil’s Path. There are three ways to the summit, and all have merit. In this writing, we’ll head up from Stony Clove.

RT 214 through Stony Clove. Can be dicey in the winter.
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking RT 214 through Stony Clove. Dicey in the winter. Ice cover Notch Lake on left.

Before roads penetrated Stony Clove, it was a wild place. The bottom of the clove must have only been a narrow space like many of the notches on Devil’s Path. The original road was built through Stoney Clove (today is known as “Stony” Clove) sometime around 1856 and was incorporated in April of 1873, according to Micheal Kudish. On the Plateau side of the clove, you can find the remnants of the Ulster & Delaware’s Kaaterskill Branch railroad bed that ran through the notch. This was built in 1883 and stopped running in 1940.

Recommended reading: 5 Winter Hiking Tips for Your First Time Out

Trail Description

The parking area is across from where Devil’s Path enters the woods going up Plateau. In the Winter, the amount of cars it can hold depends on how much snow there is but generally, about 10-15 vehicles can park here.

Chris getting his snowshoes on. Parking area in back.
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Chris getting his snowshoes on. Parking area in back.

From the start of the trail off the road, it is 3.1-miles to where the trail passes just below the viewless summit of Plateau.

The first 1.1-miles of the hike are brutal, especially in Winter as you break trail. In that distance, you’ll climb 1650′ to Orchard Point.

Trail sign at roadside
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Trail sign at roadside
Entering the woods from the road
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Entering the woods from the road
Short level section before climbing begins
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Short level section at about 0.2-miles before climbing begins again

Once in the woods, a short climb to a level section takes you to a series of switchbacks and then some long steep climbs with short breaks. At about 0.5-miles from the road, you cross two old slides, which are best noticed when there is no snow. You’ll climb steeply until about 3400′ at 0.85-miles, where the grades ease, but you are still ascending.

Chris starting up one of the steep pitches
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Chris starting up one of the steep pitches
Chris taking a break way above Stony Clove Notch on Devil's Path
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Chris taking a break way above Stony Clove Notch on Devil’s Path

After the end of the steepest climbing, the trail will swing NNE, and you’ll reach the 3500′ mark at 1-mile. From here, there will be a few short pitches to Orchard Point.

Pitch below Orchard Point
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Pitch below Orchard Point

Along this section of trail below the view, the trail passes through an area of stunted pretty trees. With one last climb, at 1.1-miles, you break out to the broad ledge known as Orchard Point. You have climbed about 1650′ from the road. The views are excellent.

South view from Orchard Point
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking South view from Orchard Point

Some of the peaks seen are Silver Hollow Mountain, Carl Mountain, Mount Tremper, Sheridan Mountain, Peekamoose and Table, Balsam Cap, Friday, Wittenberg, Slide Mountain, Panther, Doubletop, and dozens of others.

Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking View of Hunter for Orchard Point

In this view of Hunter from Orchard Point, one can barely make out the fire tower above Becker Hollow and the Colonel’s Chair’s ski slopes.

Dig deeper: The Indian Head Wilderness A Complete Guide

Leaving Orchard Point in another 0.10-miles, you’ll reach your next vie point, Danny’s Lookout. You get lovely views of the Schoharie Valley, Blackhead Range, Arizona Peak, Stopple Point, and North Mountain from this ledge.

Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking View from Danny’s Lookout

Moving along the trail, at 1.4-miles from the start, you reach your final view, which gives you a stand-up look at Roundtop and Kaaterskill High Peak with a glimpse of Kaaterskill Clove to the north and Platte Clove to the south with Huckleberry Point just above it. The Hudson Valley is on the horizon.

Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Third view on Plateau Mountain

From this viewpoint, you have another 1.7-miles to the summit with a gain of about 150′ on Plateau’s relatively flat ridge. You pass the Warner Creek Trail junction at about 2.6-miles from the road.

Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Unbroken trail heading to the summit on the ridge

On the ridge, the quality of the high elevation Boreal forest is wonderful. Many hikers pass the summit at 3.1-miles without knowing it!

Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Markers nearing the summit on the ridge

You can head on to the viewpoint past the summit looking over toward Sugarloaf or turn around at the high point and return the 3.1-miles to your car, making it a 6.2-mile day. Alone the way, enjoy the viewpoints again!

Extending your hike

You can extend your hike by hiking down the Warner Creek Trail, which has many nice views. By placing another car at the trailhead for the Warner Creek Trail or walking the road back to the notch, it would make for a great hike!

If you intend to hike into Mink Hollow and drop down to one of the trailheads associated with the Mink Hollow Trail, know that the section between Plateau and Mink Hollow is extremely steep with ledges and requires crampons and an ice axe!

Contact Information

Indian Head 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 Saugerties and Woodstock in Ulster County, and the Town of Hunter in Greene County
Map: Map of the Indian Head 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:Sugarloaf Mountain Weather

Plateau Mountain Hiking Map

Click the map or here for an interactive version of the map

Plateau Mountain Hiking Map
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Plateau Mountain Hiking Map