Plattekill Mountain in the Catskills Indian Head Wilderness

Trail leading to Devil's Kitchen Lean-to
Average read time 14 min
Summary

A hike to a secluded trailless peak with a unique history and lovely vistas

Plattekill Mountain is a 3100’ foot peak just about 1.5-miles southeast of Indian Head Mountain. It is also near Echo Lake, perched NNE of the lake about 0.75-miles as the crow flies. One can spy the lake from a viewpoint with about a 200-300’ descent south of the summit. Plattekill is one of the Catskill 67, and the hike from Platte Clove Preserve makes for an outstanding day hike.

Hike Length: 5.8-6.5 miles R/T

Route Type: Lollipop

Total Ascent: 1240+/-' (total to summit)

How Hard: Difficult (trail/bushwhack)

Click the map for an interactive version

Map associated with Plattekill.
- NYNJTC Catskill Map Set

On this page

What’s in a name?

As seemingly with the naming of peaks in the Catskills, there is more than one Plattekill Mountain. Over the generations, peak names have been used multiple times, then changed or modified. In this case, there are also North and South Plattekill mountains just outside of the Hamlet of Roxbury. Interestingly, these two peaks are not far from another Roundtop. Check your map; the Plattekill we’ll be climbing has a Roundtop nearby too! Also, spelling seems to be a puzzle; is it Roundtop or Round Top? On the NYNJTC map, “Round Top” is located near Kaaterskill High Peak, but on the NYSDEC website, it is “Roundtop.” Who knows? What we do know hiking this Plattekill is a pleasure!

The trailhead to Codfish Point

Your trip will start at Platte Clove Road at the large Steenburgh Road Parking Area, the typical trailhead for Kaaterskill High Peak. The lot is large and can accommodate 15-20 cars.

Sign at road for Parking Area
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Sign at the road for Parking Area
Access road to parking area
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Access road to the parking area
Steenburgh Road Parking Area
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Steenburgh Road Parking Area

You’ll exit the lot back on the road and cross it, walking west following Long Path blazes. The trail will enter the Platte Clove Preserve on your left and drop downhill and cross a bridge that spans Plattekill Creek.

Please enter the trailhead with the chain barrier and bring some cash to donate to the Platte Clove Preserve. There is a money box attached to the kiosk.

Gate at Plattecove Preserve
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Gate at Platte Clove Preserve
Kiosk at trailhead for Plattecove Preserve
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Kiosk at the trailhead for Platte Cove Preserve

At the trailhead, you’ll drop to a register and then turn to cross a kingpost bridge. The bridge is a narrower version of an older bridge (the 1800s) of the same design that workers used to carryout bluestone and timber and hotel guests from various resorts in the area. As you head toward your destination on the turnpike-made trail, think about being in a carriage traveling in the 1800s!

Kingpost Bridge
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Kingpost Bridge
Chris on the bridge
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Chris on the bridge

Take a moment and follow the path downstream to look at the bridge back upstream and see the Plattekill Creek cascade down into the Platte Clove. Even though you’re only a hundred feet from the road, this place already has a wild feel!

Looking down stream on the Plattekill Creek
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Looking downstream on the Plattekill Creek

Video: Stream in Platte Clove


In the next 0.9-miles, you’ll be hiking on Platte Clove Preserve property following a blue-blazed Overlook Turnpike Trail, which is also part of New York’s Long Path. From here to the boundary of the Indian Head Wilderness, the blazes will be marked by disks from the Plattecove Preserve, after the border that will change to DEC markers, but remaining blue.

The trail, giving wonderful access into the region and in our minds better than Prediger Road, will climb gently toward the junction with Devil’s Path.

You see signs about the natural environment and history, streams, animals, and quarries along the way. This is a special place. Generally, quieter than Devil’s Path.

Interpretative nature sign on trail
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Interpretative nature sign on the trail
Cool tree with eerie root system.
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Cool tree with an eerie root system.

Before you know it you reach the state land boundary and find a quarry on the left and not long after the junction of Devil’s Path coming from Prediger Road. You continue straight ahead.

Entering the Indian Head Wilderness
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Entering the Indian Head Wilderness
Chris at the boundary
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Chris at the boundary
Quarry
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Quarry
Devil's Path sign pointing toward trailhead
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Devil’s Path sign pointing toward Prediger Road trailhead

In about 300-feet, you’ll reach another junction where Devil’s Path turns west heading up Indian Head Mountain. You’ll stay on the blue-blazed Overlook Turnpike Trail.

Path turns up toward Indian Head Mountain
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Junction where Devil’s Path turns up toward Indian Head Mountain

From the turn up Indian Head Mountain on the Overlook Trail, you’ll climb uphill to the Devil’s Kitchen Lean-to in 0.1-miles. The lean-to is old and worn and in need of repair or, in our opinion, relocation and replacement (probably uphill away from the trail). This lean-to provides little privacy as the trail runs right in front.

Approaching Devil's Kitchen lean-to
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Approaching Devil’s Kitchen lean-to
Chris in the lean-to
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Chris in the lean-to

The junction with Devil’s Path is just about 1-mile to the bushwhack point up Plattekill Mountain. The start of the woods road, which will take you a good way up the mountain, is across the trail from the Codfish point spur trail. From the parking area, you’ll have climbed about 800’.

Junction at Codfish Point
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Junction at Codfish Point
Start of the woods road up Plattekill Mountain
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Start of the woods road up Plattekill Mountain

Bushwhack point to Plattekill Mountain summit

The unmarked woods road up Plattekill, feeling like a trail, takes you 0.4-miles to a quarry with a framed view of Roundtop and Kaaterskill High Peak. Along the way, you’ll pass a nice at-large campsite. This campsite would provide quiet in an otherwise busy camping corridor.

At-large campsite on the woods road
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking At-large campsite on the woods road
Unmarked woods road
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Unmarked woods road
Roundtop and High Peak socked in by clouds viewed from the quarry
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Roundtop and High Peak socked in by clouds viewed from the quarry

The quarry at the end of the woods road is typical and common in the Catskills. The seats you see today are probably made by campers who have known of these spots and not by the men who labored here. From the trail, you’ll have climbed about 285’.

Chris relaxing at the quarry
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Chris relaxing at the quarry
Rock chairs at the quarry view
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Rock chairs at the quarry view

The woods road ends at the quarry, and from here, it’s a bushwhack to the summit. At times, it seems that you pick up a faint herd path, but it disappears as fast as it came. You’ll trend SW from the quarry toward the summit through generally open forest with ferns.

Bushwhacking in open forest with ferns after quarry
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Bushwhacking in open forest with ferns after quarry

After some moderately steep climbing, in about 0.3-miles, you’ll reach the summit, which is crowned by a small spruce-fire forest. The summit sits in a small open area, with mountain blueberries in season. The summit is viewless but a great place to take in the sun.

Dense conifers around summit "clearing".
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Dense conifers around summit “clearing”.
Chris sitting in the tiny summit clearing
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Chris sitting in the tiny summit clearing

Plattekill Mountain summit to the viewpoint

From the summit, you’ll want to head to SSW to take in a couple of viewpoints. The second is the best; the first is a teaser of what’s to come. As you descend, you’ll reach a couple of rocky outcrops that need to be navigated and can be without much problem.

Small cliffs on the way down to view
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Small cliffs on the way down to view

It is about 0.2-miles from the summit to the views. The views are outstanding! There are not many places in the Catskills where you can view down to a natural lake. The airy feel to the large rock ledge lets one look down on the tiny Echo Lake. With Overlook Mountain across the valley and the lake seemingly sitting in a bowl makes one of the best off-trail views in these mountains. The body of water in the distance is Cooper Lake and to the right of Overlook is Tonshi and Little Tonshi Mountains, with Ashokan High Point behind. You’ll see Mount Guardian, Ticetonyk Mountain, Beetree Hill, and Mount Tobias. The ridge to the right in your field of view is the terminus of a southern ridge on Twin Mountain. Off on the horizon is the jumble of southern high peaks.

Wonderful view of Echo Lake and Overlook Mountain
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Wonderful view of Echo Lake and Overlook Mountain
Looking south of Overlook with Cooper Lake in the view
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Looking south of Overlook with Cooper Lake in the view

But wait. Don’t just look outward. In season Mountain Laurel abounds in this place, and when in bloom are beautiful!

Mountain laurel
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Mountain laurel

The View to the Trail

When you’re done enjoying the view, work your way back to the ridge top and descend farther until it makes sense to head to the trail on the east side of the ridge. If you follow the ridge to its end, you’ll be near the junction with the Echo Lake Trail. Anywhere along this part of the Overlook Trail, it will feel more like a footpath than a turnpike.

Turnpike turned footpath
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Turnpike turned footpath

Where you exit the ridge will determine your distance back to the trailhead. Suppose you’re heading back to the trailhead, head left on the path. On your way, you’ll pass a seasonal spring and keep watch for wildlife and more wildflowers.

Red or Eastern Columbine
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Red or Eastern Columbine
Seasonal spring
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Seasonal spring

Make sure to stop at Codfish Point on your return trip to stop and rest and get the nice views off into the Hudson Valley!

Chris relaxing, again, this time at Codfish Point
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Chris relaxing, again, this time at Codfish Point
View from Codfish point
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking View from Codfish point

Related reading: The Indian Head Wilderness A Complete Guide

Extending your trip

You may want to visit Echo Lake and camp there or head toward Overlook Mountain and see the fire tower and old hotel ruins, which are always a treat! Coming off the end of the ridge and going to Echo Lake adds another 1.2-miles to your day’s total or 3.25-miles if you go to Overlook.


DEC contact and other information

Indian Head Wilderness
Contact Information:DEC Region 4 Stamford
Office hours: M-F 8:30AM - 4:30PM
Phone: (607) 652-7365;
Email: r4.ump@dec.ny.gov
Backcountry Emergency: (Search, Rescue & Forest Fire): 518-408-5850 or dial 911
Location: Towns of Saugerties and Woodstock in Ulster County, and the Town of Hunter in Greene County
Map: Map of the Indian Head Wilderness
Amenities:Lodging and dining opportunities, as well as gas, food and other supplies can be found in the nearby communities of Hunter, Tannersville, and Woodstock.
Weather:Sugarloaf Mountain Weather

Map for Plattekill Mountain

Click map or here for an interactive version of the map

Plattekill Mountain trail map
Scott | copyright Challenged Hiking Plattekill Mountain trail map
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