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Slide Mountain from Cornell
Average read time 12 min

Slide Mountain is the tallest peak in the Catskill Mountains of New York. It is located in the southern Catskills and is a wilderness unit bearing its name; Slide Mountain Wilderness. Being the tallest makes it one of the most popular. It ranks first in the Catskills at 4184′ and eclipses 17 of the Adirondack Forty-Sixer peaks. Slide’s nearest higher neighbor is Killington Peak in Vermont. Even with the height, Slide is hard to view from the lowlands and one must climb to one of the Catskill’s other high peaks to get a glimpse of it. Slide offers a variety of difficulties on approach from moderately-hard to demanding! For the experienced hiker, there are ways up Slide that doesn’t require a trail. Slide is a required peak for the Catskill 3500 Club membership and is also one of the club’s four winter required peaks.

Featured Photo: Slide from Cornell. Above from left top clockwise: Scrambling up rock ledge on north face of Slide; Curtis – Ormsbee Memorial; Camping on the Woodland Valley Loop; Cornell and Wittenberg from Slide; Crossing a cliff on the north face of Slide; On the Burroughs Range Trail between Cornell and Slide; Trail sign at the start of the Burroughs Range Trail near the Slide Mountain PA; Devil’s Path from the north face of Slide; Long log stairs on the north face of Slide; Burroughs memorial on summit; Parking area sign on Slide Mountain Road; View on the north face of Slide; Climbing the west ridge from Slide Mountain Rd in winter.

Geeky Stuff

Elevation4184′ (1275.28 M)
Lat/Lon:41°59′55″N / 74°23′11″ W
Seasons:Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Activities:Hiking, Snowshoeing, Camping, Bushwhacking
Nearest higher neighborKillington Peak, Vermont
Line parentRoaring Plains (4702′), West Virginia
Key-col900 ft/274 m (Horseheads, NY)
Prominence3280 ft/1000 m
RangeCatskill Mountains > Southern Catskills > Burroughs Range
Land UnitSlide Mountain Wilderness
Summit forestBoreal in first growth
Maps and GuideNY-NJTC Catskill Map Set
NY-NJTC Digital Trail Maps
ADK Catskill Trail Guide

The Dirt

The lands on Slide 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.

The Slide Mountain Wilderness has 35-miles of foot trails and many of these trails connect, in combination, to reach the summit of Slide. This means that one can hike Slide from several trailheads and taking 1-3 trails hike to the summit. Distances from trailheads to summit range from 2.3-miles to 12.2-miles.

As with many peaks, Slide has some cool spots to visit. Some are grand, some are historical, and some are natural. Below are some examples:

  • Curtis-Ormsbee Memorial at the start on the Curtis-Ormsbee Trail
  • John Burroughs Memorial Plaque on the “summit” rock.
  • The great staircase on the north face on the Burroughs Range Trail
  • The foundation of the fire tower at the true summit
  • One of the best high elevation springs in these mountains on the north face on the Burroughs Range Trail
  • A plane crash on the mountain’s east slope at about 3,620 feet

History

Slide Mountain has a special history in the Catskills. If interested, read our post, Slide Mountain Catskills – The Tallest One of All.

Trail Approaches

Main trailsPhoenicia East Branch Trail (aka Denning-Woodland Valley Trail; Mount Pleasant-Romer Mountain Trail; The Wittenberg – Cornell – Slide Trail (aka Burroughs Range Trail); Curtis-Ormsbee Trail
Shortest approachPhoenicia East Branch and Burroughs Range Trail from Slide Mountain Parking Area
Easiest winter routePhoenicia East Branch and Burroughs Range Trail from Slide Mountain Parking Area
Hardest routeFrom Romer Mountain trailhead on Lane Street near Phoenicia.

From Oliverea (Slide Mountain) Road

Even though the climb from Oliverea Rd can be done as an out-and-back making it a 5.4-mile hike, we prefer the return on the Curtis-Ormsbee Trail.

The Burroughs Range – Curtis-Ormsbee Loop
Distance:6.4 milesRoute type: Lollipop
Total climb:1780′Hike type:Marked trail
How hard?ModerateTrailhead:Slide Mountain (Oliverea/Rt 42) Road

Trail and distances

Trailhead (TH) on Phoenicia East Branch trail to Junction with Burroughs Range Trail0.7-miles (0.7-miles from TH)
Burroughs Range Trail to Junction with Curtis-Ormsbee Trail1.3-miles (2.0-miles from TH)
Junction with Curtis-Ormsbee Trail to viewing ledge0.7-miles (2.7-miles from TH)
Viewing ledge back to Junction with Curtis-Ormsbee Trail0.7-miles (3.4-miles from TH)
Curtis-Ormsbee Trail to Phoenicia East Branch trail1.5-miles (4.9-miles from TH)
Phoenicia East Branch trail to trailhead1.5-miles (6.4-miles total)
Slide Mountain: The Burroughs Range - Curtis-Ormsbee Loop
Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking Slide Mountain: The Burroughs Range – Curtis-Ormsbee Loop

From Woodland Valley

This is one of the most exciting routes to Slide. Passing over the summits of Wittenberg and Cornell and traversing the high elevation col with Red Spruce is outstanding. It is a tough out-and-back or could be done as a point to point with a second car spotted at Oliverea (Slide Mountain) Road. Be in great shape for this hike!

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Red Tape

In season there is a daily fee to park at the Woodland Valley parking area. Call the state campground to find out what the current fee is. This means that if you are backpacking from this parking area expect to pay the fee for the number of days you’ll be out on the trail.

The Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide route on the Burroughs Range Trail
Distance:14 miles RTRoute type:Out-and-back
Total climb:4727′ RTHike type:Marked trail
How hard?DifficultTrailhead:Woodland Valley

Trail and distances

Woodland Valley on Burroughs Range Trail to Terrace Mountain Junction2.6-miles
Terrace Mountain Junction to the Mount Pleasant-Romer Mountain Trail to Phoenicia0.2-miles (2.8-miles from TH)
Phoenicia-East Branch Trail junction to Wittenberg on Burroughs Range Trail1.1-miles (3.9-miles from TH)
Wittenberg to Cornell on Burroughs Range Trail0.8-miles (4.7-miles from TH)
Cornell to Slide-Cornell Col on Burroughs Range Trail1.45-miles (6.15-miles from TH)
Col to Summit of Slide on Burroughs Range Trail0.85-miles (7-miles from TH)
Return to Woodland Valley7-miles (14-miles total)
Option: Second car at Slide Mountain Trailhead continuing on the Burroughs Range Trail2.8-miles (9.8-miles from TH)
Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide Route
Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide Route

From Phoenicia

This route starts at the Romer Mountain trailhead on Lane Street near the Village of Phoenicia. It is the hardest route up Slide but maybe the most spectacular. It’s not a beginner’s hike and you’ll need to be in great physical condition to do it in one day. You climb over five summits before reaching Slide and hike about 9.0-miles before getting to the Burroughs Range Trail on this route!

This hike is being presented from Lane Street up to the Burroughs Range Trail.

However, it may be wise to do this as a point-to-point from Slide Mountain Trailhead on Oliverea (Slide Mountain) Road and down to Lane Street.

Mount Pleasant-Romer Mountain Trail from Lane Street & Burroughs Range
Distance:26.6-miles RTRoute type:Out-and-back
Total climb to Slide:5000′Hike type:Marked trail
How hard?ExtremeTrailhead:Romer Mtn Trailhead

Trail and distances

Trailhead on Lane Street to Spring spur path0.39-miles from TH
Spring to summit of Romer Mountain2.81-miles (3.2-miles from TH)
Summit of Romer to view at contour below Mt Pleasant1.9-miles (5.1-miles from TH)
View to views past the Grand Stair Case2.85-miles (7.95-miles from TH)
Views to Burroughs Range Trail junction1.15-miles (9.1-miles from TH)
From junction to Wittenberg summit1.1-miles (10.2-miles from Lane St. TH)
Wittenberg summit to Cornell Summit0.8-miles (11-miles from Lane St. TH)
Cornell Summit to Slide Summit2.3-miles (13.3 from Lane St. TH)
Return to Lane Street13.3-miles (26.6-miles total)
Option: Second car at Slide Mountain Trailhead continuing on the Burroughs Range Trail2.8-miles (16.1 from Lane St. TH)
Lane Street to Slide Mountain
Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking Lane Street to Slide Mountain

From Denning

The Denning trailhead is a lonely place. Have your car in good condition, a breakdown means a long walk to get help. Having said that, it is one of the most beautiful rides to a trailhead in the Catskills. Driving in the Frost Valley area to the Neversink is simply a joy.

Hiking Slide from Denning is a route that does not see the same use as other ways up the mountain. It makes for a nice out-and-back or great point-to-point backpacking trip ending at the Romer Mountain trailhead on Lane Street. The Denning trailhead is also the starting point to access the Fisherman’s Path that can be used as a trail-less way up Slide.

info

Private Property Alert

The first mile of this hike is through private property. You will enter state land just before the junction with Peekamoose-Table Trail. Please stay on the trail.

Phoenicia-East Branch Trail from Denning and the Curtis-Ormsbee Trail
Distance:10.2-miles RTRoute type:Out-and-back
Total climb:2194′Hike type:Marked trail
How hard?DifficultTrailhead:Denning Road

Trails and distances

Denning trailhead to junction with Peekamoose-Table Trail1.2-miles
Peekamoose-Table Trail junction to Curtis-Ormsbee Trail1.7-miles (2.9-miles from TH)
Curtis-Ormsbee Trail to Burroughs Range Trail1.5-miles (4.4-miles from TH)
Burroughs Range Trail to Slide summit0.7-miles (5.1-miles from TH)
Return from summit to Denning5.1-miles (10.2-miles RT)
Denning to Slide
Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking Denning to Slide

Camping

Note: The maps on this page, primitive campsites with a question mark mean that the campsite has been reported but we have not seen it. The DEC does open and close primitive campsites from time to time, contact the local ranger to verify your plans.

Closest campingWoodland Valley State Campground, Terrace Mountain Lean-to, Primitive campsites in col between Cornell and Slide, Primitive Campsite on Burroughs Range Trail near the junction with the Phoenicia East Branch Trail, Primitive campsites on the Phoenicia East Branch Trail heading to Lane Street, Primitive campsites near and on Giant Ledge.

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.

One of the most exciting backpacking trips, the Slide-Cornell-Wittenberg Loop, can be done from Woodland Valley or another trailhead on the loop. On the approaches to Slide there are good camping spots including a lean-to (1), primitive campsites, at-large camping, and Woodland Valley State Campground

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.

Contacts and Map

Slide Mountain Wilderness
Contact Information:DEC Region 3 New Paltz Office:
phone (845) 256-3000 (M-F 8:30AM - 4:30PM), email: r3admin@dec.ny.gov
Law Enforcement, Emergency & Ranger: 518-408-5850 or dial 911
Location: Towns of Shandaken, Denning and Olive in Ulster County
Map: Slide Mountain Wilderness Map
Amenities:Food, gas, and other supplies can be found in the nearby communities of Phoenicia and Boiceville.
Dining opportunities can be found in the nearby communities of Boiceville, Mount Tremper, Phoenicia and Shandaken.
Lodging may be found in the nearby communities of Mount Tremper, Oliverea, Phoenicia, Shandaken.
Weather:Slide Mountain Weather
Cell Service:Never count on your cell phone for rescue. Cell service in the Slide Mountain Wilderness is sparse and one may have problems gaining a signal.

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

Trails to Slide Mountain
Scott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking Trails to Slide Mountain