This is a steep, rugged out-and-back.
Hiking Trail Description
Arizona Mountain is a first-rate Catskill mountain that’s ridiculously under-hiked. It’s great example of how blindly following a list based on arbitrary statistics will, at some point, rob you of a much better time.
Arizona is just 93’ short of making the Catskills 3500 List yet, in terms of quality hiking experience, it towers over many of the classic peaks. I’d climb it any day over the likes of Bearpen.
So many people will never climb this wonderful peak because, “It’s not on the list”. I‘m so glad I did.
Two Great Routes (from the South)
Dutcher’s Notch sits at 2500’ between Arizona Mountain and Stoppel Point. There are two very different ways to get to this charming col.
From East Jewett in the west, the Colgate Lake Trail starts around 2300’ and glides calmly up the remaining 200’ of elevation to the notch over 4.3 miles. I’m looking forward to doing this very pleasant hike in the spring and summer.
From Stork’s Nest Rd on the eastern side of the Catskill escarpment, the Dutcher’s Notch Trail starts around 1100’. The hike up to the notch gains 1400’ over 1.9 miles. Twice as short as the Colgate Trail, but seven times steeper.
The parking lot on Stork’s Nest makes for one of the lowest elevation starts in the Catskills. 700’ of elevation gain per mile makes it a long steep climb, though not crushingly so.
Trailhead & Parking Area
In the photo below, my car is parked out of frame in a small lot to the left. A private road runs away from the lot to the east buy, if you stand looking at the trailhead signpost, the Dutcher Notch Trail is to your left, heading SSW past a white house.
Below you can see the gate, the home, and the public easement road heading uphill.
After a short hike, you come to the trail register. Please sign in.
The trail crosses a small brook and heads gently uphill over very lumpy terrain.
Follow the yellow blazes, staying mostly on the left side of the trail.
The first mile is pretty dull but the second mile, once the trail turns and heads northwest, is high enough on the Catskill Escarpment that there are some nice views to the east.
And there are a lot of dramatic boulders on the other side of the trail.
A little higher, and you’ll be able to see Arizona Mountain on your right. This is not Arizona’s summit, just its eastern ridge.
After 1.9 miles you arrive at the col. The signposts will give you distances — more or less accurate — to Stoppel Point, Colgate Lake and Blackhead.
Climbing Arizona Mountain
Turn right and begin climbing Arizona. Follow the blue blazes now.
Right away, the terrain changes and becomes what I think of as classic Catskills mountain terrain: large exposed sedimentary boulders, moss, mixed woods of hemlock and birch, and winding trails.
This large diamond-shaped boulder, whose profile reminds me of Groot, is on the right side of the trail, not long before the rock tunnel at 2700’.
This was a super fun discovery. Probably, these boulders have been sitting in this configuration for 13,000 years, since the end of the last ice-age. The formation looks like a dolmen, or the entrance to a Neolithic tomb…
Bend and twist your way through this goodness…
Life advice: always stop and smell… the coyote poop. (It smells benign.)
Just below 3000’ is a very steep section. Mercifully, it’s pretty short.
On the way up, looking over your shoulder, you can see screened views of Stoppel Point and North Mountain.
Eventually, you come up to a relatively flat section. If you’re only heading to Arizona, most of your day’s work is done. (If you’re pushing on to Blackhead, LOL…)
At around 3100’, just before the trail turns north, keep an eye out to your left for a long flat open area. Make your way down to it. It’s about 200’ off trail. Look for this tree and boulder…
The view from here is spectacular. First you notice Stoppel Point and North Mountain. To your left are the eastern flats, looking out toward the Hudson River and the Southern Taconics.
To your right, you can see Kaaterskill High Peak and Round Top…
This is a great place to eat lunch or hang out. I think I remember a “no camping” sign, here, but I didn’t take a photo of it. This would be a wonderful place to camp — but double-check it’s legal to do so.
Head north along the trail. There is one final incline to gain the long flat ridge of Arizona’s summit.
Once on top, you’ll pass two good escarpment lookouts on your right.
There are no views but about a mile to the north you can see the summit of Blackhead.
If you’re heading back to your car, luckily, from here it’s all downhill.
Arizona was such a fun mountain to climb. Later this year, I plan to re-do it from the west (from Colgate Lake) and then continue on to Blackhead.
I recommend this difficult hike because Arizona is a classic Catskill mountain that’s super under-hiked. If you’re seeking a little solitude, it’s far quieter than many other peaks in the area. It’s also a solid single-peak hike with long and short in-and-out options. And that great view (and many screened-views along the way) make it an excellent scenic Catskills hike too.
Trailhead Info for this Hike
Description: Small lot that doesn’t get a ton of use. At the trailhead sign, look left and hike toward toward the house. Stay on the trail.
GPS Location: 42.252606, -74.053525
Location: The map below shows the exact topographic location of the trailhead.
Pretty good throughout as this is an escarpment route. My network is Verizon. YMMV.