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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
But wait. Don’t just look outward. In season Mountain Laurel abounds in this place, and when in bloom are beautiful!
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.
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.
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!
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;
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
Backwoods wanderer with a passion for backpacking, hiking, 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.