Being so close to the Hudson Valley it is a wonder that Ashokan High Point did not succumb to the same fate as some of the northern Catskill peaks by having a hotel built on it. With some wonderful views, kaleidoscope of forest species, camping opportunities, and a plane wreck, it’s a great mountain to hike, especially when the leaves are down. Given its isolated location it looks taller than it is, but to summit this hill you’ll need to work for it. It is one of The Catskill 67.
Hike Length: 9 miles (does not include Ashokan Cobble)
Route Type: Loop
Total Ascent: 2000 feet +
How Hard: Difficult
Best Time: Mid-week, in summer., fall, and spring.
Red Tape: None
Features: Some steep climbing, lots of hikers, more climbing, nice views, climbing, weird cairns, Kanape Brook, beautiful hemlocks, norway spruce, american red oak, berries in season, bushwhack to a great view, camping, plane crash site.
Name of Ashokan High Point
Ashokan High Point or High Point or Ashokan Point or Mount Ashokan or Shokan Point – all names given this place. However, what is odd is the 1942 geodetic survey mark on its summit which says “Samson”.
Today, Samson is a smaller peak some 6-miles west of Ashokan High Point’s summit. One must guess the name on the disk had to do with settlers of the small hamlet of Samsonville that sits to the peaks south. This only highlights the confusion of the names of many mountains in the Catskills. As far back as 1880 in Arnold Guyot’s survey of the Catskills, it is referred to as High Point. Ashokan High Point is in the Catskill’s Sundown Wild Forest Area.
The Kanape Brook trail
The Kanape Brook trail head is on Watson Hollow Road (Co. Rte 42), 3.75 miles off Ulster County Rt 28A. The Kanape Brook trail starts downhill across the road from the parking area. A single red trail marker indicates the start. Once on the trail you’ll drop to the Busk Kill and cross it on a well-constructed bridge.
As you cross the bridge, look down to your right, you will see the confluence of the Kanape Brook and Bush Kill where the water flows into the Ashokan Reservoir and on to New York City. The valley that you drive into is commonly known as the Peekamoose Valley but it was first named and still called the Bush Kill Valley.
From the bridge, the trail will rise and quickly bring you to the register, please sign in here’s why. From this point, you get a nice view up the Kanape Brook which you will be hiking near for some time to come. Enjoy!
At about .08 miles from the trail head you can see the remains of an old dam probably used during logging operations.
After the dam the trail climbs at varying grades and crosses tributaries on earthen bridges which have been worn to the culvers underneath. These tributaries drain the west slope of High Point and Hoopole Mountain into the Kanape Brook. At this point the trail will have moved away from or above the brook, but you will always hear it until it runs out higher toward the col between High Point and Mombaccus Mountain.
The path you are following is a old well-constructed turnpike which connected the Bush Kill Valley with the valley to the south. You’ll see some rock retaining walls built to keep land from sliding onto the old roadway starting at about 0.75-miles.
At just under 1.0-mile there is a small grass area to the right of the trail overlooking the brook way below. This makes a nice spot to take a quick break and enjoy the quality of the forest and the mass of Little Rocky (3,015’) across the valley. The trail you will be hiking on is also used as and intermittently marked as a ski trail.
Approaching 1.15-miles look to your left and you’ll see a random collection of rock cairns just off the trail. They seem illogically placed at this spot with no rhyme or reason.
At 1.30-miles you will find a spring left of the trail. This appears to be and old cistern which gathered ground water for drinking. Before you take a sip, remember to treat all water.
At approximately 1.55 and 1.85-miles you’ll cross a nice planked bridge and then a smaller unstable one. By this time, you’ll be walking in an old hemlock forest and may notice some nice areas to camp under the cool canopy.
The trail will begin to climb more steadily but never too steep. As you make your way to the col you will enter a section of trail where the trees close in and you’ll find Norway Spruce.
You will cross a pretty and open section of the trail that contains Stinging Nettle which hugs the narrow footpath through a wet area. Besides being painful to the touch, this plant has nutritional and medicinal uses.
Arriving at the col at 2.7-miles the open junction invites the hiker to sit and rest. Straight ahead leads to private land (avoid this) and the trail up High Point make a sharp turn north (left).
From the turn, the trail’s composition changes from a woods road to a mountain scramble. Over the next 1.1 miles, you will climb about 1,000’ of the 2,007’ climb from the trail head to the summit. This rivals some of the steepest climbs of the Catskill 3500 peaks.
The trees become stunted on this burnt over ridge and mountain top area. In fact, sometime after the second footbridge, you have been hiking in areas that have experienced multiple forest fires dated back to the 1800’s. The wind battering the upper reaches of the mountain warp the trees as they cling on for existence.
During the scramble, you’ll encounter several rock ledges of varying sizes with level sections in between, typical Catskill terrain. You will see increasing amounts of berry bushes and Hobblebush which bloom in late June and early July. When the trees are bare don’t forget to look back at the dramatic scenery behind you. In fact, the best time to climb Ashokan High Point is when the trees are bare.
In the upper reaches, you’ll climb a significant grade which levels off for a bit then you will reach another small ledge and finally come out on the 3,080’ summit at 3.8-miles.
Before this ledge is the start of the herd path to Ashokan Cobble a rocky knob with excellent views. The herd path will drop about 350’ and then climb 50′ to the knob in about .35-miles from the trail (0.7-miles round trip).
From the summit there is a limited view of the Hudson Valley below, this is best when the leaves are down.
After the summit walking about .20-miles (4-miles from the start) will take you to an open meadow with views of the Burroughs Range and Devil’s Path on the horizon. In the front of the Burroughs Range are Balsam Cap and it’s sub-peaks on the mountain’s southernly ridge. Again, these views are best when the leaves are down.
At this meadow, there is a large firepit and several rock seats where one can gaze at Slide Mountain the monarch of the Catskills at 4,180’. However, if one wishes to see the best view when the trees are leaved out you’ll need to stand at the back of the field.
This is a place where one could camp as we did on a night when the summit was being battered with 35-40 MPH winds. As we chose to bring our hammocks, it made for a “bumpy” night as the trees swayed in the wind. As of this writing, there is an old camp here disk at the northeast corner of the meadow.
Waking up in the morning with the temperature at 41-degrees (in June), the Burroughs Range was shrouded in clouds which would burn off as the sun warmed the late-spring air.
From the meadow, your next stop will be Hoopole Mountain named for the harvesting of vegetation to make the hoops for barrels. In one forest burn, the 1891 Annual Report of the Forest Commission of the State of New York stated that a fire “ran up one side, down the other side of Hoop-pole Mountain… it destroyed a large number of hoop-poles… The destruction of the hoop-poles effects mostly the poorer classes”.
Clearly, these woods were important to local settlers as part of their existence, for the hiker today we rely on these woods for existence in a medicinal way as part of the restoration of body, mind, and spirit. In fact, even in the 1800’s the Catskills had been prescribed and advertised as a place to restore one’s health!
After making a quick 295-foot drop to a low point you begin a climb to the top of Hoopole Mountain. You reach the summit of Hoopole Mountain after a quick 100’ climb at about .42-miles from the clearing (4.42-miles from the start). With the leaves down views of the surrounding mountains can be had but with the trees leaved out there are no views at this place.
In about 0.20-miles from Hoopole Mountain’s summit, the trail will turn 90-degrees heading south (4.62-miles from the start). After this point a path right will lead to an overgrown viewpoint. You will have descended 140’ from the summit of Hoopole Mountain to the 90-degree turn.
Plane crash on Ashokan High Point
From the 90-degree turn it is about 0.35 miles to a faint herd-path (which may be marked with a cairn) on your left which will take you to the remains of a plane crash (about 4.97-miles from the start). By GPS 41.9268, -74.2983. The wreck is about 100-200 feet off the trail. There is not much left of it but it is worth the visit.
From the plane crash site, in about 0.45-miles with some steep descending, you will reach a drainage that flows to Kanape Brook. You can follow this beautiful stream to save a bit of trail walking (maybe not time). It is about 0.50-miles of bushwhacking and you’ll come out near the small footbridge you crossed on your way up. If you do this you should be comfortable hiking off trail and know how to use a map and compass.
Continuing on the trail you will reach the junction at about 1.33-miles from the crash site (6.3-miles from the start) and then another 2.7-miles back to the trail head.
Your days total, on the trail, will be about 9.0-miles altogether. If you go to Ashokan Cobble add another 0.7-miles, but significantly more time as this is a bushwhack and requires a drop and climb of about 400′.
Ashokan High Point Trail Map
Click to see interactive version of this map.
Sundown Wild Forest information
|Sundown Wild Forest|
|Contact Information:||DEC Region 3 New Paltz Office:
Phone: (845) 256-3000 (M-F 8:30AM - 4:30PM)
Emergency, Law Enforcement & Rangers: (518) 408-5850 or 911
|Location:||Towns of Denning, Wawarsing, and Olive in Ulster County and Town of Neversink in Sullivan County|
|Map:||Sundown Wild Forest recreation map|
|Amenities:||See Ulster County web site|
|Weather:||Ashokan High Point Weather|
Backwoods wanderer with a passion for backpacking, hiking, kayaking, and exploring the wilds of the Catskills and Adirondacks in New York. A Catskill 3500 Club Member and Adirondack Forty-Sixer. Climbed Mount Rainier. Professionally an Exercise Physiologist.