Hike Thomas Cole & Black Dome from Barnum Rd

A moderate Catskills hike — over consistently interesting and varied terrain — to two epic views.

Hike Length: 8.3 miles (13.36 km)

Total Ascent: 2,437ft (743m)

Intensity: Moderate Catskills Hike

Route Type: Out-and-Back

Includes: Blazed Trail

Parent Black Dome

Similar Entries In: Catskills, The Moderate Hikes, , , , , , , .

rock outcrop, trees

Classic Catskills, so much fun

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 One tricky rock ledge and one rock chute that gets iced up in winter. Otherwise, a moderate hike.

Hiking Trail Description

This route crosses four summits in total: one peak below 3500’ and three peaks peaks above 3500’ — though only two of those are considered “Classic 3500’s”. The terrain changes constantly from rugged trail to rocky cliff faces, from gently undulating terrain to enclosed woods to spectacular open views. Never boring, this route is super rewarding any time of year. It’s one of the finest hikes in the Catskills.

The lot at Barnum Road is small-to-medium and fills up quickly on busy weekends. It’s okay to park on the side of the road — but there are homes, here, so never park in anyone’s way.

The trail heads uphill gently for just under half-a-mile and then turns left. You’ll see the register here. Sign in and continue uphill.

trail register
The trail register is quite a way up the trail

The woods here are mixed and lovely. Depending on the time of year, you’ll come across lots of animal sign and fungi…

fungus on tree
Do not confuse with Chicken of the Woods / do not eat

The first hurdle comes after a set of switchbacks. Just above 2800’ you’ll come to this dramatic ledge. The way up is along the left side of that big boulder, and then to the right. You’ll have to figure out how to do a moderately tricky lift.

rock ledge
The route is straight up and to the right

Above the ledge, the terrain switches between rolling hill and very easy flat sections.


Caudal is such a great word. It means “at or near the tail“ so this summit is the back end of “the camel”. The summit is off-trail, in the woods, but is unremarkable.

stepping stones on trail
An easy section of trail

Camel’s Hump

The col between Caudal and Camel’s Hump makes for a very pleasant walk. It doesn’t take long to summit to Camel’s Hump, one of my favorite summits in the Catskills. It may be small but it feels like a summit! (This is a rare summit treat in the Cats.)

There are two good views down two spur trails on the summit: on the east side, is a partial view of Thomas Cole’s summit one mile away; on the west side, you get a more open view that takes in Windham High Peak and Mt Zoar to the northwest.

scenic catskills view
Seen on the way to Thomas Cole

Climb down the north side of Camel’s Hump. The trail bends to the right and crosses a lovely flat section of trail that is as barren in winter as it is lush in summer.

The ascent to Thomas Cole is quick, heading up a moderate slope that passes through some stunning sedimentary outcrops…

rock formation
Fantastic rock outcrop on the way up Thomas Cole

Thomas Cole

This large opening, on the left side of the trail, is a great spot to rest. The true summit is a little way in the woods. You may be able to pick out some herd paths heading out to it and back.

summit boulder
The summit is close by, in the woods

Thomas Cole’s summit is viewless but always so peaceful and calm.

Carry on, heading east toward Black Dome.

Two Chutes

Climb down trough a small rock chute at 3830’ and keep going.

Just below 3750’ a larger and trickier chute comes into view. The first time I came to it was in winter, and I ended my hike at this point, feeling it was too dicey to descend into its iced-up maw. But in the warm months it’s perfectly navigable and great fun.

rock chute
Easy enough to climb down this fun chute, except when it’s iced-up in the cold season

This is the view from the other side, looking back up…

rock chute
The view from down below


rock outcrop, trees
Classic Catskills, so much fun

Black Dome: Scenic View 1

I have no photos from this day of the first scenic view. However, just before the summit, you’ll come to a short spur trail on your right. The view from the small ledge is fantastic. It looks out over Kaaterskill High Peak and Round Top from such a great angle.

Head back to the trail, turn right and pass over Black Dome’s wooded summit.

Black Dome: Scenic View 2

The trail winds down the east side of the mountain. Your destination is one of the great Catskill views.

At 3750’ step off the trail, down onto an amazing ledge. Make sure to poke around for the best views. Be safe and careful.

Across the col, you get a first-rate look at Blackhead.

scenic view from Black Dome
Blackhead. This view is stunning every month of the year.

To the left of Blackhead, you can see Acra Point, Burnt Knob and Windham High Peak — the three of which you can chain together as an excellent day-hike. In the distance, beyond them, Albany and the Southern Adirondacks are clearly visible.

To the right of Blackhead, you’re looking over Lake Capra at the bottom of West Stoppel Point to Kaaterskill High Peak. To the right of KHP, about 10 miles away, lie the eastern Devil’s Path mountains: Indian Head, Twin, and Sugarloaf.

scenic view from Black Dome
View to Eastern Devil’s Path

Hike back to Barnum Rd — or extend your hike to Blackhead before returning!

This hike appears on both the multi-peak and the double-peak hiking lists. Although views are limited along the way, the views at the far end of the hike are among the Catskill’s greatest, earning this hike a place on the scenic list. And although there are two tricky spots, it’s mostly a moderate hike, albeit a long one.

The parent mountain for this hike is Black Dome.

If you do this hike, LMK how it went…

Your comments are welcome here…

Trailhead Info for this Hike

Busy medium-sized lot.

Address: 334 Barnum Road, East Jewett, New York, USA
Due to the nature of rural addresses, this address is an approximation; it’s the “close enough address” I use to get driving directions from my phone. Click to launch Google Maps in a new window/tab.

The map below shows the exact topographic location of the trailhead