Doubletop Mountain a 3875′ peak was known as one of the hardest Catskill off-trail peaks and is the Catskill’s highest peak without a trail. Today with a herd path ascending from the north, the going is much easier. No one says you need to climb the herd path. I have been on Doubletop 3-times, but have attempted it five. Each time I missed making the summit was due to time and weather. Doubletop, with its two summits, it a beautiful mountain. Adorned with rich boreal forest and some great views if you are willing/able to travel to both peaks it is certainly one of the Catskill’s prized hiked. It is located 1.65-miles WSW of Big Indian Mountain and 1.4-miles SE of Graham. When looking at a map, one can see that a “loop” route from the Seager trailhead can be done over all three for a bushwhack marathon of sorts!
Access to Graham and Doubletop N. Peak has been Permanently CLOSED
The property owners of Graham and Double Top have closed the property to all hikers.
Read more here regarding the changes to membership climbs for the Catskill 3500.
Winter Attempt on Doubletop
A few years ago, Chris and I set out on a January day to climb Doubletop. It was cold with high temperatures in the single digits. It was a few days after a major snowstorm that had dropped 2-feet of snow on the Catskills. But we didn’t think much of it as we live about 30-miles north of the peak as the bird flies.
Lazy and slow, we left the house gassed up, grabbed coffee at Stewart’s, and were on our way out of town by 10:00 AM (trouble already). With the snowy mountain roads that never seem to get cleared, we made our 50-minute ride to Seager. Arriving at the trailhead at about eleven, we probably should have “settled” for Big Indian or went to Balsam Lake. But we had OUR plan.
Interestingly, when we got there we found that our part of the Catskills had gotten a lot more snow than the southern section. Hopes increased!
We geared up and hit the Seager-Big Indian Trail. The trail starts with the Dry Brook next to it, and in winter, you’ll often hear the deep hum of water below the ice.
The name Dry Brook is actually a corruption of Drei Brook, meaning “3” in German. The creek once had three bridges that spanned it in the valley. We’ve never seen it dry.
At about 0.3-miles from the trailhead, you cross a large tributary of Dry Brook, which drains Drury Hollow (sounds scary). Then at 0.87-miles, you’ll cross another large tributary named Flatiron Brook.
We made the 1-mile trek bare with an excellent snow cover, booting it to the bench and bushwhack point at about 11:45. You know you’re at the bushwhack point when you reach an odd but nice bench which makes for a last-minute place to check your gear before heading into the woods.
We left the trail and began our ascent. The terrain steepened, and the snow started to get deeper. We found no broken path, so we were breaking trail to the summit. As we ascended higher, the snow deepened. At about 3000-3100′, we traversed some rock outcrops and, with continued steady climbing through thigh-deep snow, reached the steeper ground again at about 3300′. Now we were in north face’s shade, and the temperature dropped significantly to the -5 degree range.
At about 1.3-miles from the trail and almost 1:30 in the afternoon, we stopped to break and rethink our day. Tired from breaking snow and knowing we had some of the steepest climbing yet to come, should we stop and call it a day and enjoy the beauty of this place for a bit or continue to the summit and risk an-in-the-dark return?
We opted to turn and come back another day.
Doubletop in the Summer
Doubletop in the summer is a different experience than the winter. Distance and elevation climbed are the same, but the lack of extreme cold, snow, and ice, and length of the day make it easier, but still not easy.
In summer, what you lose, like many Catskill climbs, are the views had when the trees are bare. But with the trees being leafed out, the coolness of the summer near Seager Brook is outstanding. The sounds of the water cascading down the valley are invigorating.
The deep redolent aroma of the spruce and fir, which seems to increase with the warm and damp soil, is something that almost every Catskill hiker can longingly cherish.
In the summer, we can hike faster. Chris and I made it to the bushwhack point in 20-minutes and up to the 3300′ mark, where we terminated our winter climb in 90-minutes.
We arrived at the summit in about 2-hours from the trailhead, having traveled a total of 2.5-miles. Of course, having the herd path helped!
The first growth summit of Doubletop is crowned in a sweet subalpine forest. The 3500 canister is on a lifeless tree in a small open spot. After the aborted winter attempt, Chris was thrilled to be on top!
On this route, in summer, you feel you have no real views until after you reach the summit. From the peak heading SSW, you can find a vista above the steep west face of Doubletop. A second view is on the south summit, which is more extensive. On this day, as the weather was turning with thunderstorms, we opted to head for the north peak view and then back to Seager.
Sometimes you don’t see things while climbing, but we caught a limited view heading back down the herd path (below). From Seager to the summit and north view, it was about a 5.4-mile round trip with 2010′ of climbing. You will drop off to the view and have to climb back over the summit to head back to the trailhead.
Extending your hike to the south peak adds another 0.7-miles round trip to your day. Some people look for a plane wreck on the SE face of the lower peak coming from Big Indian a beautiful but arduous 10.5-mile R/T trek with over 3100′ of climbing if you’re coming from the Biscuit Brook parking area.
|Big Indian Wilderness|
|Contact Information:||DEC Region 3 New Paltz Office:
phone (845) 256-3000 (M-F 8:30AM - 4:30PM), email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Law Enforcement, Emergency & Ranger: 518-408-5850 or dial 911
|Location:||Towns of Denning, Shadaken and Hardenburgh in Ulster County|
|Map:||Big Indian Wilderness Map|
|Amenities:||Gas may be found in the nearby communities of Arkville, Fleischmanns, Livingston Manor and Pine Hill.
Food and other supplies can be found in the nearby communities of Margaretville and Livingston Manor.
Dining opportunities can be found in the nearby communities of Arkville, Big Indian, Fleischmanns, Margaretville and Pine Hill.
Lodging may be found in the nearby communities of Arkville, Big Indian, Fleischmanns, Oliverea and Pine Hill.
|Weather:||Big Indian Mountain Forecast|
|Cell Service:||Never count on your cell phone for rescue. There are many spots in the Big Indian Wilderness that service is poor.|
Doubletop Hike Map
Click the 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.