Hiking Guidance / Trail Gear / Mountain Safety

Find amazing hikes in the Catskills, Gunks, Adirondacks, Hudson Highlands

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— Live Happily —

Hike The Mountains

Demanding and spectacular, the Dix Range is one of the most rugged and scenic Adirondack mountain ranges.

Chaga is delicious and offers many health benefits. This is how you make chaga tea.

Camping in the Catskills? This comprehensive list of resources, regulations and gear tips will help get you ready for your first Catskills campout.

When to watch for black flies, how best to avoid them, how to repel them, and how to treat their super-itchy bites.

Everything you need to know about the Devil’s Path — one of the most difficult hiking trails in New York State.

This super-scenic hike takes in a lot: a gorgeous lake with epic cliffs, rugged trails, peek-a-boo views of the Hudson Valley, giant glacial erratics, as well as the world-famous Shawangunk cliffs at Gertrude’s Nose.

An absolutely delightful hike from Colgate Lake, around Lake Capra, and along Stoppel Point’s beautiful and scenic escarpment ridge.

Super scenic and super sketchy — this is the funnest and most popular day hike in New York’s Hudson Highlands.

This three-tiered best bug spray system keeps me (mostly!) bite free in New York’s backcountry every season

Hiking News & Culture

solo woman female hiker hiking

Solo Hiking Advice for Women: Persist

Solo women hikers often face pushback from friends and family who’s anxiety is triggered by the suggestion that a woman might be heading into the wilderness alone. It’s time to call that what it is.

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Arnold Guyot Catskills Mountains Map

Arnold Guyot’s 1879 Catskills Map

Do you know where Bee Line Mountain is in The Catskills? You’re about to find out…

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Hikers helping each other

9+ Best Catskills Hiking Groups Online

A list of my favorite Catskills hiking groups online.

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Patreon logo

Patreon vs Amazon

I currently use Amazon affiliate links on this site, in my email newsletter, and sometimes on my @TotalCatskills story feed on Instagram. Patreon may offer a way out of that compromise.

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mountain scenic view

How Indian is Indian Head?

Native American communities were forced out of The Catskills by the Indian Removal Act, signed into law in 1830 by President Andrew Jackson.

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sunset over mountain peaks

Shop @TotalCatskills Prints

Many of my best photos are now for sale, framed, via an exclusive deal with KeepsakeFrames that entitles you to 15% off 5 frames!

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Mountain Hiking Trails

The Best Hikes

These are the best mountain hikes in the Catskills, Taconics and Adirondacks.

photo of fire tower at Hadley Mountain

Hadley Mountain Fire Tower

Delightful hike, sometimes steep, but a very rewarding payoff from Hadley Mountain Fire Tower.

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large boulder protruding from mountain

Twin Mountain via Jimmy Dolan Notch

This quick ascent to a gorgeous two-peaked Catskill ridge includes a fun, tricky rock scramble — and one of the truly great views in the Catskill Park.

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cascade’s open rocky summit

Hike Cascade & Porter

This entry-level Adirondack High Peak hike is a great introduction to the rigors of mountain hiking: rough trails, rocky scrambles and incredible views make this short day-hike super rewarding.

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Behind the Cave on Twin

Hike Sugarloaf & Twin from Roaring Kill

Any hike that includes Twin Mountain is a great hike. From either side, Twin offers some the funnest ascents in the Catskill Park. But the western side of Twin, with its steep talus field and a section of technical open rock face, is perhaps the toughest 0.7 mile you’ll hike on any Catskill trail.

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view of Hudson River looking north at dusk

Storm King Mountain

Storm King Mountain from Cornwall-on-Hudson has better parking and quieter trails — and you still get all the same incredible views.

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ledge and campers and scenic view

Ashokan High Point (with Plane Wreck)

This loop hike features easy riparian trail, then a steep climb to views of Mohonk and the Shawangunk Ridge, as well as stunning blueberry meadows and a plane wreck just feet from the trail’s edge.

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Best Anti-Tick Treatment

Easy Mountain Hikes

Be aware that “easy mountain hikes” does not mean “easy hikes” — before you go, learn how to stay safe on a mountain.

cabin in woods and small wooden outhouse

Red Hill Fire Tower Classic Hiking Trail

This short, easy hike up beautifully-maintained trail in bucolic New York leads to dramatic views of the Southern and Western Catskills.

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screen cap of video

Windham High Peak in 3 Minutes (Walk-Thru Video)

This is one of my favorite hikes to do in The Catskills. This video walks you through the trails and junctions from trailhead to summit, giving you a clear sense of just how lovely this hike is.

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creek

Hike Rochester Hollow

An easy hike through beautiful woods leads to a series of magnificent stone fences, ruins, and a memorial to John Burroughs. This is an underutilized and under-appreciated trail. Especially suited to skiers, trail-runners and animal track lovers.

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teenager in gorge rock face

6 Kid-Friendly Hikes in the Catskills

These easy kid-friendly Catskills hikes have so much to offer your family.

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master map graphic

Master Map of Hike Reports

This interactive master map lists all my hike reports to date

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lake view

Onteora Lake

Half way between Kingston and Woodstock, Onteora Lake is perfect for casual hikers, trail runners, and snowshoers. Three loops of increasing ruggedness allow you to choose your own adventure.

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  Moderate Hikes

waterfall in foggy North Mountain woods

North Point & North Mountain from Scutt Road

The fastest route to North Point’s famous view is one of North Mountain’s prettiest trails.

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Windham High Peak from Burnt Knob

Windham High Peak via Burnt Knob

Hike through rich riparian terrain, crossing a handful of streams, up to a ridge-line that’s peppered with excellent escarpment views — plus a ledge with a breathtaking view of the entire Blackhead range

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two painted blazes on tree trunk

Ginseng & Hayden: Quiet Northern Catskills

A very quiet and peaceful section of the Northern Catskill Escarpment / Long Path, free of Classic Catskills crowds.

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view of mountains with cloud inversion

Hike Cross Mountain from Woodland Valley

This moderate hike along quiet trail packs a punch: stunning forest, dramatic rock formations, and a spectacular panoramic scenic lookout.

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sunset view

Pakatakan Lookout & Shelter

A short steep hike past dramatic rock formations leads to a sweet view over the Pepacton Reservoir.

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Covered brigde

Hike Doubletop from Seager

My favorite part of this hike was actually the first mile of trailed section along Dry Brook, heading southeast from the parking area. By mid-June the banks on both sides of the brook are lush. All along the stream feels wild and natural, and the crossings are a lot of fun.

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   Difficult Hikes

green ski lift building in snow

Belleayre via Lost Clove

This challenging out and back begins with one of the steepest trails in the Catskills, passes over two sub-peaks and visits two lean-tos on the way to a ski resort with a scenic view.

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wintery waterfall

Eagle Mountain from Seager

Not many people hike this way to Eagle but it’s the most beautiful route. The Seager Big Indian trail which passes along Dry Brook is uniquely challenging and magical.

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giant boulders

Schunemunk Mountain Loop

The terrain is the star on this mostly moderate hike over Schunemunk’s two ridges. This long, challenging route includes the base of Moodna Viaduct, The Megaliths, and excellent views.

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catskills rock band, underside

Tanbark Trail: a Short, Difficult, Beautiful Loop Hike

A short, steep, rocky intense hike right in the heart of Phoenicia. Lots of dramatic Catskills geology. Two excellent views.

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Blackhead from Black Dome

Hike Blackhead & Black Dome from Big Hollow via Lockwood Gap

An outstanding double-bill that combines an epic view of Black Dome from Blackhead with an epic view of Blackhead from Black Dome. This is one of my favorite hikes in the Catskills.

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ticetonyk

Ticetonyk Mountain Trail to West View

I figured Ticetonyk was beautifully positioned to have great views — but I had no idea. Ticetonyk’s lookouts are now among my favorites in The Catskills.

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Recommended Reads

Hiking Kit List

Basic Mountain Hiking Gear

While hiking gear can change from trail to trail, and from season to season, the following items will serve you well on every hike. They are a fleshing out of The Ten Essentials (the absolute bare minimum you should pack for every hike). This hiking gear list focuses on day-hiking.

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hwa lice on hemlock

Catskills Hemlocks Under Threat

Spend any time in the Catskills and you’ll see how special our hemlock groves are, and how unique their micro-environment is. Learn about Hemlock Woolly Adelgid and how you can help.

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Blackhead Range

The 3 Best Ways to Not Die on a Hike

Every month, people get into trouble in the Catskills, almost always because they are under-prepared. Here are the 3 best things you can do to stay safe on your hike, while making sure you’re prepared in the event of an emergency.

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solo woman female hiker hiking

Solo Hiking Advice for Women: Persist

Solo women hikers often face pushback from friends and family who’s anxiety is triggered by the suggestion that a woman might be heading into the wilderness alone. It’s time to call that what it is.

  Read ›

standing desk with hiking gear storage underneath

Storage Bins for Hiking Gear

I sorted my growing jumble of hiking gear as a fun weekend project. With all my regular hike gear in a single box, I don’t have to worry I’m overlooking or forgetting anything. I spend less time preparing — which means more time doing.

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two hikers in snowy forest

35 Best Tips for a Safe Winter Hike

These 35 tips for winter hiking will help keep you safe in the harshest conditions

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Wilderness Safety Basics

Mountain Hiking, Planning Tips, Gear Lists, Emergency Numbers

Start mountain hiking safely, hike well, finish in one piece. Here’s everything you’ll need: your clothing, your gear, how to plan a safe hike in every season, the best apps, what to eat, what to bring. It’s all the advice, all in one place.

Stay Safe

The Best Mountain Hikes

The Very Best Hikes You Can Do in the Catskills, Gunks, Adirondacks, Hudson Highlands, Taconics…

This mountain hiking list is a personally-curated selection of the most rewarding hikes you can do in the Catskills, Taconics and Adirondacks. Use this list to hike an awesome hike every week!

Best Hikes

The Catskills High Peaks

The Traditional List of Catskills Peaks Above 3500’

Most people begin mountain hiking in the Catskills by climbing a few High Peaks: Indian Head, Slide Mountain & Balsam Lake are popular starting points. Here are the summits you’ll need to bag if you want to join the Catskill 3500 Club.

Catskill High Peaks

Or Start Mountain Hiking Here…

With hundreds of miles of mountain hiking trails and countless bushwhack routes, there are so many ways to hike the mountains. I can’t make new peaks, but I do add new hikes regularly…

Apart from the Classic Catskills High Peaks and the Best Catskill Hikes, you can also view lists of Popular Catskills Hikes and Scenic Catskills Hikes.

If you’re just starting out, check out the Easy Hikes list.

If you have kids in tow, these Kid-Friendly Hikes will give you plenty of great options.

For anyone new to hiking, Nature Walks are a great way to get a deep dose of forest magic without much uphill effort.

Finally, you can view a simple but complete list of all the Catskills peaks I’ve hiked, with all their associated hikes. (The Taconics and Adirondacks lists are small right now, but growing.)

Best Hikes in the Catskills, Hudson Highlands, Adirondacks, Taconics, and more…

This website’s 12 most recent posts in reverse-chronological order

Dix Range from Elk Lake

Demanding and spectacular, the Dix Range is one of the most rugged and scenic Adirondack mountain ranges.

This is How You Make Chaga Tea

Chaga is delicious and offers many health benefits. This is how you make chaga tea.

Shop Labeled Photos

These unique labeled views make the perfect gift for the mountain-lover in your life.

Camping in the Catskills: a Beginner’s Guide to Backcountry Campouts

Camping in the Catskills? This comprehensive list of resources, regulations and gear tips will help get you ready for your first Catskills campout.

Black Fly Bites

When to watch for black flies, how best to avoid them, how to repel them, and how to treat their super-itchy bites.

Devil’s Path Trail Guide

Everything you need to know about the Devil’s Path — one of the most difficult hiking trails in New York State.

Gertrude’s Nose Loop via Millbrook Mountain

This super-scenic hike takes in a lot: a gorgeous lake with epic cliffs, rugged trails, peek-a-boo views of the Hudson Valley, giant glacial erratics, as well as the world-famous Shawangunk cliffs at Gertrude’s Nose.

Best Hiking Boots of 2022

If you’re looking for a new pair of hiking boots, this list of hiking boot brands and models will get you started with great recommendations.

Giant’s Nubble via Roaring Brook Falls

The steep hike to Giant’s Nubble includes an epic waterfall — top and bottom — as well as incredible views of the surrounding high peaks.

7 Amazing Scenic Catskills Views You Don’t Know

The best scenic Catskills views? Often, they’re not the ones you'll find in any guidebook.

Best Camera Settings for Photographing Sunsets & Sunrises (40+ Tips)

Dawn and dusk: there’s no better time of day to shoot landscapes than when the sun is low on the horizon. Here’s everything you need to know to plan, prepare, and pull off the perfect sunrise photo shoot.

Secret Hike: Bushwhack Easter Egg

A bushwhack side-quest leads to an incongruous object…