A long lollipop route, half-trailed and half-bushwhack.
Hiking Trail Description
This was one of my earliest mountain hikes and by far my longest hike at the time. In the shin-deep snow, I found it extremely tiring. However, after another year in the hills, with much stronger legs, I would now class this as a moderate hike — which seems to suggest: one’s experience hiking depends on one’s hiking experience.
The lot for Biscuit Brook is about 3 miles past the DEC lot for Slide Mountain on Route 47 — it’s on the left if you’re driving from that direction. The trailhead itself is across the road on the opposite side of Route 47.
The first section (about half a mile) winds through the woods for a while before becoming a little steep and rugged as you climb the ridge.
After you climb around to the other side of the ridge, the going is much less challenging. A long easy section leads gently down past the Biscuit Brook lean-to to an easy stream crossing.
The trail heads directly north, crossing Biscuit Brook again and veering northwest as in climbs up through the hollow toward Big Indian. On your right, Fir looms.
The trail gains about 1250’ and has a short steep section before gaining the ridge and taking a sharp right.
Bushwhack Big Indian & Fir
From any point just below the summit you can leave the trail and head up/east. This is a very quick and easy section. Gaia now has a herd path marked which you can follow. It starts a little farther north than my GPS track.
Big Indian Canister
It takes 10-15 minutes to climb to the top of Big Indian. The canister is easy to find.
Good for Kids
The trek up to Big Indian (without adding Fir) and back out is a wonderul day adventure for kids. Heading up, I passed a family of four coming down: two parents and two young kids, everyone looking delighted with their day. The stream crossings, the short bushwhack, and signing in at the canister — all so much fun.
From Big Indian, the easiest route to Fir is to follow the blue Catskill Divide line on NYNJ Trail Conference maps. The Divide follows the ridge-line from Big Indian, down into the col, and up to Fir.
This trek is tough in the summer after everything has grown in. On this day, I had the lucky advantage of being able to follow a track laid down in the snow by a group that had hiked earlier that morning. (This is a great winter bushwhacking cheat; I highly recommend it.)
There are a few steep-ish sections but, mostly, it’s a long woods hike. Only when you start heading uphill again, toward Fir’s summit, do you come across a few distinctive rock outcroppings that remind you you’re in the Catskills.
Fir Mountain Canister
Finding the canister on Fir was trickier than finding the canister on Big Indian. In the snow, I came across lots of overlapping snow tracks and followed the wrong one for a minute. I doubled-back, made my way to the south end of the summit, and poked around until I saw the canister.
Descent to the Trail
The descent from Fir is easy enough. Just make your way down the dead center of Fir’s southwestern ridge, back toward the trail.
Your goal is to avoid the brook that runs down the furrow by staying to its north, and then coming out on the trail a few hundred feet north of the Biscuit Brook lean-to.
From here, you can retrace your steps along the easy section back to the parking lot on Rte 47.
If you do this hike, let me know how it goes in the comments below…
Trailhead Info for this Hike
Description: Smallish lot on south side of Route 47.
GPS Location: 41.991390, -74.484800
Location: The map below shows the exact topographic location of the trailhead.