3 Things to Hate About Hiking Slide Mountain: How to Change it.

Slide Mountain from Cornell
Average read time 4 min

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. Some peaks draw a crowd. Slide Mountain is one of them. It is not unlikely that you will spend your summit time with 50 people on a busy day. 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.

Chris at the Slide Mountain Trailhead
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Chris at the Slide Mountain Trailhead

The solution for beating the crowds on Slide Mountain

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. Another idea is to start before sunrise or finish after sunset. Pushing the hours from early morning or late day may increase your odds of being on top with solitude. But you’ll need to be comfortable and prepared for hiking in the dark!

Maybe the best solution is to hike 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 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.

Phoenicia East Branch Trail junction
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Phoenicia East Branch Trail junction

The solution for spicing up the hike to Slide Mountain

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, other ways up Slide don’t include a trail. In fact, read our comprehensive Slide Mountain Page.


Trail Alert

The trail section on the Phoenicia East Branch Trail between the Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide Trail and Curtis Ormsbee Trail has reported washout and is rougher than expected. Please be aware of these conditions as you plan your trip.

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.

The solution to getting the best views on Slide Mountain

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.

Devil's Path from Burroughs Range Trail on the North Face of Slide
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Devil’s Path from Burroughs Range Trail on the North Face of Slide

The prized views are past the summit heading toward Cornell Mountain. In fact, in a short distance from the peak, you will find several fine vistas like the one we call the “diving board.”

A nicely framed picture of Devil's Path looking out over a 15' rock jutting out like a diving board!
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking A nicely framed picture of Devil’s Path looking out over a 15′ rock jutting out like a 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 you’ll reach one of the best springs in these Mountains along the way.

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.

Slide Mountain trail map

Common routes up Slide Mountain (click image to see interactive map). The map does not show the north approach on the Romer-Cross Mountain path; although beautiful, this is only recommended for experienced and very fit hikers.

Slide Mt Trail approaches
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Slide Mt Trail approaches
Slide Mountain Wilderness
Contact Information:DEC Region 3 New Paltz Office:
phone (845) 256-3000 (M-F 8:30AM - 4:30PM), email: r3admin@dec.ny.gov
Law Enforcement, Emergency & Ranger: 518-408-5850 or dial 911
Location: Towns of Shandaken, Denning and Olive in Ulster County
Map: Slide Mountain Wilderness Map
Amenities:Food, gas, and other supplies can be found in the nearby communities of Phoenicia and Boiceville.
Dining opportunities can be found in the nearby communities of Boiceville, Mount Tremper, Phoenicia and Shandaken.
Lodging may be found in the nearby communities of Mount Tremper, Oliverea, Phoenicia, Shandaken.
Weather:Slide Mountain Weather
Cell Service:Never count on your cell phone for rescue. Cell service in the Slide Mountain Wilderness is sparse and one may have problems gaining a signal.
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