Lone Mountain hike in the Catskills

Lone and Table Mountains from Paul's Lookout
Average read time 6 min

Lone Mountain is one of 4 trailless peaks below Slide Mountain south of the Burroughs Range. At 3,721′, it ranks 16th of the Catskill 35 high peaks and is a required climb for the Catskill 3500 Club. The four peaks of Lone, Rocky, Balsam Cap and Friday are collectively known as the “Bushwhack Range.” You’ll need a map and compass to navigate this peak. Lone is the westernmost peak in the range just northeast of Table Mountain (see top image). Each peak can be hiked individually, maximizing the experience or, in combination, maximizing the endeavor.

In his 1880 “Map of the Catskill Mountains,” Arnold Guyot included Lone as part of the “Slide Mountain Chain,” which spanned from Slide to Belleayre Mountain, with Lone being a ridge from the summit of Slide. In his report in The American Journal of Science in 1880, Guyot states regarding Slide, “From its broad triangular top it sends a ridge southeast… and terminates in the Lone Mountain 3670 feet, by which it is almost connected with the Wittemberg chain” (his spelling). Was his naming of the peak simply that the mountain stood alone?

Section of Aronald Guyot's Map of the Catskill Mountains showing Slide and surrounding peaks
Collection from Scott Larson Section of A. Guyot’s Map of the Catskill Mountains showing Slide and surrounding peaks

Based on his map, measured elevation, and description, the Lone referred to by Guyot is probably today’s Balsam Cap. If it was, his naming was fitting as Balsam Cap can feel like one of the most lonely places in the Catskills. Currently, Lone Mountain and other peaks in the Bushwhack Range may be viewed as a part of the Peekamoose Range, as suggested by Michael Kudish in his book “The Catskill Forest: A History.”

The most common approach is from Denning and the Fisherman’s Path. Another and more challenging approach is from Peekamoose Road, which requires a climb of Peekamoose and crossing the col between Table and Lone. Of course, one can hike the range from Cornell’s shoulder, crossing the entire range making this one of the most arduous and grand off-trail adventures in the Catskills. There are many combinations and approaches for all peaks in this range.

In this description, we will climb off-trail peak Lone Mountain from Denning and return over Table back to the trailhead. The Denning Road trailhead is one of the most remote in the Catskills; make sure your car is in good working order. The parking area is large and can accommodate approximately 20 cars. It is located on Denning Road, 3.5 miles northeast of its intersection with New Road.

Denning Trail-head to access the Table - Peekamoose Trail
Challenged Hikers | copyright Challenged Hiking Denning Trail-head for to access the Table – Peekamoose Trail and the Neversink

The trail register and kiosk are at the east end of the parking area. Please sign in as you will be in remote regions eventually without trails. You begin your hike on the yellow-blazed Phoenicia East Branch Trail. The section between the trailhead to the junction with the Peekamoose – Table Trail is on private land; please stay on the trail.

Phoenicia East Branch Trail to Peekamoose – Table Trail

Bridge over the Neversink
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking “Bridge” in the Neversink Valley

This section of the Phoenicia East Branch Trail is pretty but shows signs of private use with an occasional side path at the start. The trail will traverse gradual grades to the blue-marked Peekamoose – Table Trail, which it reaches at about 1.2-miles. Along the way, look for mountain raspberries in season. You will cross two footbridges. Otherwise, the trail is the remnant of the old turnpike that connected this area with the valleys to the north.

Peekamoose – Table Trail to Lone Mountain summit

At the junction, turn south on the Peekamoose – Table Trail and begin a pretty descent into the beautiful Neversink Valley through rocky terrain. You are entering one of the wildest places in these mountains.

You will cross several bridges before reaching the Fisherman’s Path at 0.30-miles. There are designated campsites that make for a good place to basecamp as a short overnight. Water is plentiful.

Early October backpacking in the morning
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Early October backpacking in the Catskill’s Neversink Valley in the morning

You will depart the trail here. The path will be obvious, heading east from the trail following the East Branch of the Neversink River. You will be hiking just below the first growth forest until you depart the path on your way to the summit of Lone. On your way to the point you’ll leave the Fisherman’s path you’ll come upon a great beaver dam.

Beaver dam on the Fisherman's Path in the Catskills
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Beaver dam on the Fisherman’s Path in the Catskills

Take the Fisherman’s Path to Donavan’s Brook, which you will cross. After crossing the brook, follow the northwest ridge to the summit. The is steep terrain, and you’ll need to pick your ascent route intelligently and allow enough time to reach the summit.

Chris at the cansiter on the summit of Lone Mountain
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Chris eating something (?) at the canister on the summit of Lone Mountain

From the start of the Fisherman’s Trail to the summit, you will have traveled about 2.2-miles and gained over 1,500’. You’ll find the canister in a small grassy area. A herd path will lead to a nice ledge with views.

Lone Mountain to Table Mountain

The trek from Lone to Table is one of the nicest off-trail col crossings you will experience. However, please don’t take it lightly, as one may descend too far off the ridge and find themselves in the drainage of Donavan’s Brook, which would be very hard to reascend. The descent to the col is somewhat southwest. Stay on the ridge; it will drop off steeply on each side.

The flat col between Lone and Table Mountains
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking The flat col between Lone and Table Mountains

Once in the col, cross it and ascend the ridge south-south-west to the trail on the ridge of Table. The hike from the summit is about 0.90-miles, and you will drop about 300’ and climb almost 390’.

Table to Denning trailhead

From the point you reenter the Peekamoose – Table trail, head north to the Phoenicia East Branch Trail in which you will travel about 2.35-miles and drop 1,700’.

View from overlook on Table Mountain
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking View from overlook on Table Mountain (Click to enlarge)

Along the way, you will pass viewpoints, the Bouton Memorial Lean-to, and a spring. Once you reach the Phoenicia East Branch Trail, the walk back to the parking area is 1.2-miles.

Your day’s totals are approximately 8.25-miles and total climbing of about 2,400’.

Map of Lone Mountain

Click the map to enlarge or here for an interactive version.

Map of Lone Mountain hike in the Catskills
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Map of Lone Mountain hike in the Catskills
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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