Slide Mountain is King of the Catskills. Topping out at just below 4200′ it is the highest point of land between the Green Mountains of Vermont and the high peaks in West Virginia. It has a wonderful summit adorned with Balsam Fir and is full of Catskill history. So what’s wrong with Slide?
Slide Mountain is crowded
A resurgence in the love of outdoor fitness and hiking has more people on the trail. In the Catskills and Adirondacks in New York hiking has exploded. There are some peaks that simply draw a crowd. Slide Mountain is one of them. On a busy day, it is not unlikely that you will spend your summit time with 50 people. That’s just part of the experience. The main trail from Slide Mountain Road can be so jammed up that it feels like a busy town on Main Street.
If you are looking for some solitude on Slide you’ll want to stay away from weekends and Holidays. Even though going mid-week will lessen the crowds you may still see quite a few people on the trail. Maybe the best solution is hiking it in the winter. Winter is a special place on Slide. The beautiful summit packed with snow is a place worth visiting. The best part is you may be the only one on top!
The main route up Slide Mountain is tedious
I have to admit, the main route up Slide is kind of boring. It has its beauty but it is not an attention grabber. You’ll find most of the ascent on the old jeep road for the long-gone fire tower. It is not until you reach the upper portions does the trail offer much in the way of views. The upper forest is beautiful but so is the forest on other trails on Slide. Most of your climb will be somewhat mundane.
Get off the “dog route”. By hiking the Curtis – Ormsbee Trail or taking the much longer route from Woodland Valley, you’ll get more bang for your buck. For the skilled and adventurous, there are other ways up Slide that don’t include a trail.
The summit view is not what it used to be
Slide Mountain has grown up. Over the past 200 years, the summit forest is growing taller. This has lessened the once expansive view to a “nice” view. The fire tower had been removed years ago so you cannot get the 360-degree view this once provided.
Enjoy other viewpoints on the mountain. There are nice viewpoints on the Curtis – Ormsbee Trail and above its junction with the Burroughs Range Trail. Spend time enjoying these.
Really the prized views are past the summit heading toward Cornell Mountain. In fact, in a short distance from the summit, you will find several fine views like the one we call the “diving board”.
Head for the views by continuing on the Burroughs Range Trail — but know you’ll lose elevation. If you have the stamina, these are must-see views. A bonus is that along the way you’ll reach one of the best springs in these Mountains.
Slide Mountain is a wonderful peak. If you are looking for a “wilderness” experience you may want to stay away from it in season or take some of the less traveled paths to the top. In the spring, summer, or fall you will surely share the summit with many other hikers.