Please note changes in access and rules for hiking and camping in the Adirondacks and Catskills during the COVID-19 outbreak. Please act responsibly during this stressful period. Please read the DEC info carefully.

Blackhead Mountain Catskill Mountains

View of Blackhead Mountain from Black Dome
Average read time 6 min

Blackhead Mountain is a peak in the Catskill Mountains, more specifically in the Catskill’s Blackhead Range or Chain. When viewed from the Hudson Valley, the peak stand some 3000′ above. Blackhead has very steep approaches from the northeast and south and it requires snowshoes and crampons in winter. Blackhead is a required peak for the Catskill 3500 Club membership and is also one of the club’s four winter required peaks.

Featured photo: Blackhead Mountain from Black Dome. Above clockwise from top left: Climbing the steep SOUTH face of blackhead; View from Yellow Jacket Lookout; Blackhead from Acra Point; Approaching the view above the slide on the Blackhead Trail; Climbing near the slide on the Blackhead trail; Stream along the Batavia Kill Trail with Blackhead behind; Batavia Kill primitive campsite; Double blazed escarpment on Blackhead; Descending the steep NORTH face of Blackhead.

Elevation3941′ (1201.2 m)
Lat/Lon:42.26771°N / 74.10465°W
SeasonsSpring, Summer, Fall, Winter
ActivitiesHiking, Camping
Nearest higher neighborBlack Dome
Line parentBlack Dome
Key-col3441 ft/1049 m at Lockwood Gap
Prominence500 ft (150 m)
RangeCatskill Mountains > Blackhead Range
Land UnitWindham-Blackhead Range SWA
Summit forestBoreal in first growth
Shortest approachFrom Big Hollow Road
Trailhead: 2200 ft/671 m
Main trailsEscarpment Trail, Blackhead Trail, Black Dome Range Trail, Batavia Kill Trail
Easiest winter routeBlack Dome Range Trail to Lockwood Gap to Blackhead Trail to summit.
Closest campingBatavia Kill (lean-to, designated campsites)
Lockwood Gap (designated campsite)
Maps and GuideNY-NJTC Catskill Map Set
NY-NJTC Digital Trail Maps
ADK Catskill Trail Guide

The Dirt

The lands on Blackhead Mountain are administered by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The DEC works with numerous organizations to maintain the trails, lean-tos, and campsites. In the Catskills, the maintenance is done by a volunteer force.

Approaches

It’s steepest approaches are on the Escarpment Trail from the South and Northeast with sustained grades between 30 to 45-degrees below the summit. These sections can ice up significantly in winter and may require crampons. It’s Key Col is Lockwood Gap between itself and Black Dome at an elevation of 3440 – 3420′.

Trails/Routes

Blackhead Loop from Big Hollow Road

Blackhead from Colgate Lake Wild Forest or Stork Nest Road

The Blackhead Range Traverse from Barnum Road

Camping

Camping at the lean-to is first come first serve and no lean-to or designated campsite can be reserved. Lean-to capacity is about 7-8 people. All designated primitive tent sites have yellow and black “Camp Here” markers. Many sites on lakes and ponds are identified by a yellow number against a dark brown wooden plaque typically attached to a tree near the water’s edge.

At-large backcountry camping is also allowed. Campsites must be below 3,500 feet in elevation and at least 150 feet away from the nearest road, trail, or body of water.

Camping for more than three nights or in a group of ten or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger.

Safety and Wellness

Please sign in at all trail registers, here’s why.

Bears

There are an estimated 1,800 to 2,000 black bears in the Catskills. The following are the recommendations from the DEC on bear management:

  • Use bear-resistant food canisters. These are a highly effective means for preventing bears from getting your food, toiletries, and garbage. Use of bear-resistant canisters is encouraged throughout the Adirondack and Catskill backcountry, and are required in Eastern High Peaks Wilderness of the Adirondack Park.
  • Pack a minimal amount of food. The less food to store the better. Use lightweight and dehydrated foods.
  • Cook and eat before dark. Bears become more active after sunset.
  • Cook away from your campsite. Choose an area at least 100 feet away from your sleeping area.
  • Be neat and clean while cooking. Avoid spills and drippings. Do not pour grease into your fire pit.
  • Keep food in storage containers. Only take out the food you plan to cook. Keep containers nearby and store food immediately if a bear approaches your cooking area.
  • Avoid leftovers. Carefully plan your meals and eat all that you cook.
  • Never leave food unattended. Bears may watch from a distance waiting for opportunities to steal food.

DEC Fact Sheet on Bear Encounters (PDF)

If You Encounter a Bear at Your Campsite

Do:

  • Use noise to scare bears away: Yell, clap, or bang pots immediately upon sighting a bear near your campsite.
  • Stay calm: Walk slowly and speak in a loud and calm voice.
  • Leave slowly: Cautiously back away from the bear and leave the area.

Don’t:

  • Approach, surround, or corner a bear: Bears aggressively defend themselves when they feel threatened. Be especially cautious around cubs as mother bears are very protective.
  • Run from a bear: They may chase.
  • Throw your backpack or food bag at an approaching bear: This will only encourage bears to approach and “bully” people to get food. By teaching a bear to approach humans for food, you are endangering yourself, other campers/residents, and the bears.

A note on water

Drinking and cooking water should be boiled for 5 minutes, treated with purifying tablets, or filtered through filtration device to prevent instances of giardia infection.

Contact and Map

Windham-Blackhead Range 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 Cairo, Hunter, Jewett, Windham and Durham in Greene County
Map: View Windham-Blackhead Range Wilderness Map - PDF (2.82 MB)
Amenities:Dining opportunities, as well as gas, food and other supplies can be found in the nearby communities of Cairo, Windham and Palenville.
Weather:Blackhead Mountain weather
Cell Service:Never count on your cell phone for rescue. Cell service in the Windham-Blackhead Wilderness is okay and one may have problems in ravines. We have not had problems with service.

Click on the map or here for an interactive version of the map

Blackhead Mountain Topo Map
Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking Blackhead Mountain Topo Map