The Slide Mountain Wilderness is the largest wilderness area in the Catskills
The Slide Mountain Wilderness, located in the southern Catskills, encompasses 47500 acres and is the largest wilderness area in the Catskills. It is home to the most extensive stand of red spruce in these mountains and has 35-miles of foot trails. It is home to 6 significant peaks with trails, including the Catskills highest Slide Mountain at 4184, Panther, Wittenberg, Cornell, Peekamoose, and Table. Also, four other major peaks without trails, including Lone, Rocky, Balsam Cap, and Friday. Other notable peaks in the region are Giant Ledge, Terrace Mountain, Cross Mountain, Mount Pleasant, Romer Mountain, and the trailless peaks of “The Wildcats,” Van Wyck Mountain, and Samual’s Point. Hiking and camping opportunities are outstanding.
- Trails in the Slide Mountain Wilderness
- Camping in the Slide Mountain Wilderness
- Rules for lean-to and primitive camping
- Fishing in the Wilderness Unit
- DEC Contact Information
- Slide Mountain Wilderness Map
Trails in the Slide Mountain Wilderness
Phoenicia East Branch Trail
The Phoenicia East Branch Trail connects Denning with Woodland Valley. From Denning to the Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide Trail, the western part of the trail is well-graded and not too difficult. (There is some washout between the Curtis-Ormsbee Trail and the Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide Trail.) After this is a steep drop to the Slide Mountain parking area on Ulster County RT 47. The section between the Slide Mountain parking area and the Giant Ledge-Panther parking area is on the road. From the Giant Ledge-Panther parking, the trail climbs to the height of land then begins a long drop to Woodland Valley.
Combined with the Curtis-Ormsbee Trail, it makes for a great and probably quieter route up Slide Mountain. It provides northern access to Table and Peekamoose and the Bushwhack Range via the extraordinary Neversink Valley. It can also provide access to Giant Ledge and Panther from RT 47 or Woodland Valley.
Bushwhack a Catskill 67: East Wildcat Mountain in the Beautiful Slide Mountain Wilderness
The Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide Trail
The Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide Trail is well-known as the Burroughs Range Trail. It passes over the spectacular summits of Slide, Cornell, and Wittenberg, collectively known as the Burroughs Range, named in honor of John Burroughs, naturalist, and writer. The trail takes longer to hike than the mileage would indicate. Challenging terrain and excellent views will slow down most hikers.
The trail departs from the day-use parking area at Woodland Valley Campground. In season, there is a daily fee to park here. The trail’s terminus is at the junction with the Phoenicia East Branch Trail on the RT 47 side.
This is one of the most heavily traveled trails in the Catskills. If one wishes to enjoy this in relative solitude, hike it in the shoulder season or winter.
Epic Backpacking Loop: Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide Woodland Valley Loop
(1.6 miles, blue markers, moderate 900 feet elevation gain.)
The Curtis-Ormsbee Trail, named after two mountaineers who died on Mt. Washington (read here), is a trail that connects the Phoenicia East Branch Trail and the Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide Trail. It is the alternative to the “dog route” from the Slide Mountain trailhead and offers a nice view of Lone and Table Mountains along the way.
It makes for an excellent descent if you’re coming off Slide. It is a more tranquil route than the Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide Trail.
Giant Ledge-Panther Mountain-Fox Hollow Trail
(7.45 miles, blue markers, challenging 2,620 feet elevation gain from Fox Hollow.) Fox Hollow parking area
If one wants solitude climbing Panther Mountain, then heading up from Fox Hollow will do. The route from Fox Hollow sees much less use than from RT 47, and you’ll likely have the trail to yourself on many days. Of course, until you get to Panther.
Do an out-and-back or with two cars continue over to Gaint Ledge and down to RT 47 or take the Winnisook by-pass path to the Slide Mountain parking area for a point-to-point.
The trail terminus is at the junction with the Phoenicia East Branch Trail at the col coming off Giant Ledge heading to RT 47.
Winnisook by-pass path (our name)
(1.52 miles, NO markers, easy 280 feet elevation gain from RT 47.)
The by-pass path allows the hiker to connect from the Winnisook Club property to the junction with the Phoenicia East Branch Trail near Giant Ledge. The path part on state land and a short section on Winnisook Club property by an easement is relatively level. It eliminates the road walk between the Slide Mountain parking and Giant Ledge – Panther parking areas on the busy RT 47.
(1.6 miles, 3.2 miles round trip, elevation gain: 1,100 feet.) Giant Ledge – Panther parking area RT 47
This is not one trail but the route from the Giant Ledge-Panther Mountain parking area. Taking the Phoenicia East Branch Trail to the height of land and then the Giant Ledge-Panther Mountain-Fox Hollow Trail up Giant Ledge. One of the hikes with the best return on investment. Short, not too much climbing, and views which are second to none.
A winter climb: Catskill’s Best: Giant Ledge in the Winter
Terrace Mountain Trail
(0.9 miles, yellow markers, easy 300 feet descent.)
Starting at a junction 2.6-miles from Woodland Valley on the Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide Trail. Once part of Wittenberg’s main route, this trail is now a spur trail to a lean-to. It has a nice view along the way. How long the lean-to is maintained is yet to be seen.
Mount Pleasant-Romer Mountain Trail
(9.0 miles, blue markers, Elev Gain/Loss: 3,098ft, -1,185ft from Lane Street) Lane Street parking area
This trail provides a long-desired reroute of the Long Path. The original Long Path route required a drop to the Campground and a road walk through Woodland Valley. Now hikers can drop to Phonecia and Mt Tremper without the road walk on one of the most magnificent trails in the Catskills and get many outstanding views along the way!
Peekamoose-Table Mountain Trail
The Peekamoose-Table Mountain Trail from Peekamoose Road has one of the most significant climbs in the Catskills with about 2800′ ascent to Table Mountain. Coming from Denning, the ascent is less at about 1800′. Spot two cars and do a point-to-point or an out-and-back from either trailhead.
Coming in from denning via the Phoenicia East Branch Trail will give you the most direct access to the Fisherman’s Path. The Fisherman’s Path, an unmarked herd path, gives you access to Lone, Rocky, Balsam Cap, and Friday Mountains.
(23 miles through the Slide Mountain Wilderness, extremely challenging)
Trails used from south to north:
Peekamoose-Table Mountain Trail – 7.5 miles to
Phoenicia East Branch Trail – 1.7 miles to
Curtis-Ormsbee Trail – 1.6 miles to
Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide Trail – 4.1 miles to
Mount Pleasant-Romer Mountain Trail – 9.0 miles
Camping in the Slide Mountain Wilderness
There are 24 designated primitive campsites and 3 lean-tos in the Slide Mountain Wilderness.
Primitive campsites are located near:
- Burroughs Range Trail: between Slide and Cornell (6) and west side of Slide Mountain east of the intersection with the Phoenicia East Branch Trail (1)
- West Branch Neversink River (2)
Peekamoose Table Trail near the East Branch Neversink River (3)
- Peekamoose Road (1)
- Traver Hollow (Bradken Road) (3)
- Giant Ledge Panther Mountain Fox Hollow Trail (2)
- The intersection of Phoenicia East Branch Trail and the Giant Ledge Panther Mountain Fox Hollow Trail (1).
- Curtis-Ormsbee and Phoenicia East Branch Trail junction (1)
- Curtis-Ormsbee Trail (2)
The lean-tos are located:
- On the Giant Ledge Panther Mountain Fox Hollow Trail 0.4 miles from the Fox Hollow Road Parking Area,
- At the end of the Terrace Mountain trail, and
- On the Peekamoose Table Trail west of Table Mountain.
At-large camping is also allowing. Camping must be 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. Camping is prohibited above an elevation of 3,500 feet in the Catskills between March 21 and December 21.
Recommended video: Finding five-star backpacking campsites
Rules for lean-to and primitive camping
- Tents are not allowed inside lean-tos and must be at least 150 feet from the lean-to.
- Lean-tos are available on a first-come, first-served basis and cannot be reserved.
- Lean-tos should be shared by multiple parties until filled to capacity (normally 8 people).
- Fires should be built in existing fire pits or fireplaces if provided.
- Campfires must be less than 3 feet in height and 4 feet in diameter.
- Cutting standing trees is prohibited. Use only dead and down wood for fires.
- Extinguish all fires with water and stir ashes until they are cold to the touch.
- Get your firewood from a local vendor (within 50 miles of your destination) and ask for a receipt or label that lists the firewood’s local source.
- Use pit privies provided near popular camping areas and trailheads. If none are available, dispose of human waste by digging a hole 6″-8″ deep at least 150 feet from water or campsites.
- Carry out what you carry in.
- Camping for more than three nights or with 10 or more people requires a permit from a Forest Ranger.
All primitive campsites are on a first-come-first-serve basis. You cannot reserve a site. Camping for more than three nights or 10 or more people requires a Forest Ranger permit.
Recommended video: How to Hang a Bear Bag: The PCT Method
Fishing in the Wilderness Unit
The Slide Mountain Wilderness harbors the headwaters of some of the finest fisheries in the Catskills, including the Esopus Creek and the east and west branches of the Neversink River. As a result, good numbers of native brook trout are present in most of the streams in the area, and brown trout, rainbow trout, and sculpin are present in most.
Additionally, there are public fishing rights on nearby private land. For Public Fishing Rights (PFR) on the Esopus Creek, Woodland Valley Creek, and Stony Clove Creek, visit DECinfo Locator- Interactive Trout Stream Fishing Map (DECinfo Locator is best viewed on a desktop computer. Users are encouraged to visit the Trout Stream Fishing Map User Guide first for “how-to” instructions on using the fishing map.)
Southeastern NY Fishing provides information on fishing in the Catskills and links to top fishing waters, stocking lists, public fishing access, and waters open to ice fishing listed by county.
DEC Contact Information
|Slide Mountain 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 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.|
Slide Mountain Wilderness Map
Click map or here for an interactive version on this map