Pratt Rock a Catskill Family-friendly Hike

View from Pratt Rock in winter
Average read time 4 min

Pratt Rock has been coined “New York’s Mount Rushmore” by Ripley’s Believe it or Not. If you make the short climb to its towering cliffs you’ll find out why. Located just east of the village of Prattsville, the cliffs, named for Zadock Pratt, a tanner, banker, and eventually, a successful politician being elected to the House of Representatives will impress the most experienced hiker.

This 3.1-mile round-trip hike offers interesting carvings done by Pratt and from the cliff tops some of the best views in the Schoharie Valley with relatively little effort.

Kiosk at trailhead of Pratt Rocks
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Kiosk at the trailhead of Pratt Rocks

The trailhead sits on the north side of Rt 23. A parking area that can accommodate about 10 cars will immediately take you to a kiosk with information about Pratt and the carvings. There are picnic benches in the area for hikers/visitors to enjoy a picnic.

The trail begins behind the kiosk and slabs the side of the hill crossing way below the cliffs.

Start of trail up Pratt Rocks
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Start of the trail up Pratt Rocks

While on this section of trail keep an eye out for a headstone on the left. This is for Pratt’s dogs and horses.

Headstone off Pratt Rock trail
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Headstone off Pratt Rocks trail

After a short walk, you’ll see your first carving which is a bench on the right of the trail.

The first carving you'll see on the trail
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking The first carving you’ll see on the trail

The trail will increase in steepness as it moves upward to the cliffs. At a junction, you could head left and go above to the cliff tops or right and continue on to the carvings.

Pratt Rocks trail below cliffs
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Chris on the Pratt Rock trail below cliffs

If you go right you’ll be able to walk around the other end of the cliffs and climb above, then return looping down on the other trail.

The rock carvings are fascinating, but so are the cliffs themselves.

Carving on the Pratt Rocks trail
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Carving on the Pratt Rock trail

Take your time in this section. Always be careful below cliffs as falling rocks are always a possibility.

Carving on the Pratt Rocks trail
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Carving on the Pratt Rock trail

Once you have passed below the cliffs and make a short but steep climb up to the cliff top you’ll be rewarded with ever-increasing outstanding views.

Just a glimpse of what's to come!
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Just a glimpse of what’s to come!

You’ll eventually reach a large open rock ledge which provides a panorama usually reserved for much higher peaks. You never reach the summit of this hill.

Please be careful, especially with younger hikers as a fall along the cliff line could be fatal.

This ledge is very similar to the one on Vroman’s Nose also in the Schoharie Valley just outside Middleburgh.

Panorama of the Pratt-Rock view
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Panorama of the Pratt-Rock view (click to enlarge)

Continue along the cliff line on the well-beaten path as you will be walking along the property line with the NYC DEP lands. You’ll catch a partial view toward the village along the way.

Prattsville from Pratt Rock
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Prattsville from Pratt Rock

As you descend the trail will swing left through a rock wall and drop back to the main trail and the parking area.  After your hike head to Prattsville and eat at the Prattsville Diner or Beth’s Cafe and stop by the Zadock Pratt Museum.

By the way, Pratt is buried on the other side of town in a cemetery on, you guessed it, Prattsville Road (CR 7), which is just before you cross the bridge going over the Schoharie Creek.

Trailhead on Route 23

Trip distance: 3.1 miles round-trip

Elevation gain: 900′

Best time to hike: Anytime, but in the warm weather may be best to sit and enjoy the views.

Added to NRHP: December 10, 1992

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