Huntersfield Mountain in the Catskills. Beautiful and Solitary.

The quiet Huntersfield Mountain Lean-to
Average read time 7 min

Although outside the Catskill blueline, in the Huntersfield State Forest, Huntersfield Mountain can stand with the many of the Catskill High Peaks. Its proximity being many miles away from the jumble of 3500 high peaks and standing high above its neighbors at the height of 3,423’ makes Huntersfield look massive. With large ridges that make an X or cross, the peak’s footprint is large when looked at from above.

Hike Length: 2.7 miles

Route Type: Out-and-Back

Total Ascent: 660 feet

How Hard: Easy

This was a “recovery hike” for Christian as he is just getting back on the trail after major knee surgery this past May. We wanted to climb Hunterfield last Winter but attempted to after a major storm, and parking was impossible. We decided to climb from the quarry, limiting the ascent to about 660’ and a 2.8-miles round trip.

Huntersfield Mountain is a high peak in the #Catskills that provides solitude and great views.

The mountain has fine views from the lean-to near the summit and another just up the trail. Although any time of the year is good to go, it may be best when the leaves are down and use discretion in Winter, especially after significant snow, as roads are seasonally maintained. Parking is limited to the ones that are plowed.

Huntersfield summit is also at the county line for Schoharie and Greene counties. This makes Huntersfield the highest point in Schoharie County and is ranked 9th of New York’s 62 county high points and 7th of the Catskill 67. We had the mountain to ourselves on this day, and we only counted 18 names listed in the lean-to register over the past 30-days. Thus, if one wishes to visit a “high peak” in relative solitude, this could be the hill for you.

Related reading: The Catskill 67, peaks below the Catskill 3500.

Trails to Huntersfield Mountain

There are several approaches to the peak. Some are on trail others are old woods roads. You can find directions to the mountain in the links below. Our description will start from the quarry on Jim Cleveland Road, a rough access road that penetrates the state land to the Huntersfield State Forest proper.

Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Sign on Jim Cleveland Rd. entering Huntersfield State Forest

If you drive this road to the quarry know several things:

  1. It is rough and curvy/steep and at points
  2. It is narrow and may only be enough for one car to drive
  3. It may be too rough for cars that sit very low to the ground
  4. Not maintained during the winter

If any of the above bothers you, enter from the Huntersfield Road side of the mountain.

Another hike nearby: Ashland Pinnacle

The quarry is at the col between Huntersfield’s summit and a 2,850’ knob on the ridge you’ll be climbing. There is an apparent woods road that heads just north of east from the rear of the quarry. The trail climbs a gentle grade for most of its length. Although not marked until the junction with the Yellow trail near the summit, it is easy to follow. Soon after entering the path, you’ll hike by and in a reforestation area that has excellent towering red pines.

Red Pine reforestation along woods road to Huntersfield Mountain
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Red Pine reforestation along woods road to Huntersfield Mountain

If you look, you’ll also find scattered about young spruce trees (I think Norway Spruce), which will fight for existence as not much sunlight penetrates to the forest floor. The spruce is probably best found when the leaves are down.

Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Spruce growing along the woods road heading up Huntersfield

As you climb and the trail noticeably swings left, the trees become stunted. You are at about 3,000’ elevation. According to Micheal Kudish, in his book “The Catskill Forest: A History,” he speculated that the summit and shoulders of Huntersfield might be in first growth. He felt that the stunted growth above 3,000’ would make the harvest of trees not worthwhile. Additionally, to support this thought, he cites the lack of pioneer species, stumps, and minimal human disturbance.

Stunted trees starting at about 3,000' on the woods road
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Stunted trees starting at about 3,000′ on the woods road
Chris walking among the stunted trees on Huntersfield
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Chris walking among the stunted trees on Huntersfield

From here, the woods road makes a straight run to the summit. In typical Catskill style, you do short climbs (easy) with long-level walks. At about 3,300’, you will reach the trail junction with the yellow trail you continue to the large lean-to.

Beginning of yellow blazing near woods road
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Beginning of yellow blazing near woods road

The lean-to, by Catskill standards, is unusual and somewhat luxurious as it has a small table and benches to sit on in it. It also has ample pegs to hang gear or clothing on. However, the structure needs some TLC. There is no privy at the lean-to, but it does boast some of the finest views from a lean-to in these mountains.

Related reading: 10 Things to Think About Before Using a Lean-To or Backcountry Shelter

Huntersfield Mountain Lean-to
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Huntersfield Mountain Lean-to
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Lean-to from below
Inside the lean-to
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Inside the lean-to

From the view with some walking around, one can see Hunter, SW Hunter, The Lexington Range, Deep Notch and Sleeping Lion on Halcott, Westkill, St. Anne’s Peak, North Dome, and Sherrill. In the foreground is Tower Mountain, and in the distance, one can make out the unmistakable summit of Slide Mountain, the highest peak in the Catskills. With binoculars, one can probably identify more peaks.

View from the lean-to
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking View from the lean-to

Not too far from the lean-to is a nice view looking north over the Huntersfield Range. The view includes The Knob, Ashland Pinnacle, Richmond Mountain, Mount Hyden, and Ginseng Mountain. With a bit of moving and a bit further away, one can spy Windham High Peak and the Black Dome Range in the distance.

Another hike nearby: Richmond Mountain and Richtmyer Peak

View of the Huntersfield Range from Huntersfield
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking View of the Huntersfield Range from Huntersfield
View of Windham High Peak and Black Dome Range
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking View of Windham High Peak and Black Dome Range (behind trees)

While sitting in the lean-to, one can almost feel the summit’s oldness with stunted trees, some of which have been warped by the high elevation weather.

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From the second viewpoint, you’ll walk the Yellow trail to its terminus near the summit (marked by 3 trail markers) and reach the Red Trail. There is a summit disk on the trail not far from this point, but we think the actual summit is a few feet off the trail.

End of yellow trail near summit
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking End of yellow trail near summit
Actual summit "bump" off the trail
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Summit “bump” off the trail?

Retrace your steps back to the quarry, and your round-trip will be about 2.8-miles if you go to the summit. Beware, on your way back down; you will reach a fork in the woods road that you may miss on your climb up. Coming down, take the right fork, which continues on the ridge. If you feel that you are dropping off the ridge, you may have taken another woods road.

Huntersfield State Forest
Contact Information:DEC Region 4 Stamford
Office hours: M-F 8:30AM - 4:30PM
Phone: (607) 652-7365;
Backcountry Emergency: (Search, Rescue & Forest Fire): 518-408-5850 or dial 911
Location: Town of Conesville, Schoharie County and Towns of Ashland and Prattsville, Greene County
Map: View Huntersfield State Forest Map (PDF)
Amenities:Lodging and dining opportunities, as well as lodging, gas and other supplies, may be found in the nearby communities of Prattsville and Windham.
Weather:Huntersfield State Forest weather

Map of Woods Road on Huntersfield Mountain

Map of Huntersfield Mountain Hike
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Map of Huntersfield Mountain Hike (click to visit interactive map)