Height: 3,573ft (1,089m)
Range: Northeastern Catskills
Trail Type: Fully Trailed
Seasonal Notes for Indian Head
The western side of the mountain is quite wet and, in the fall, it gets iced up early. The trail from the summit down to Jimmy Dolan Notch can be an absolute ice-rink. Do not attempt without microspikes.
Indian Head Topography
Summit Forecast: Indian Head
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Indian Head Information
Indian Head remains one of the most popular and beloved peaks in the Catskills. It’s the smallest Devil’s Path mountain but somehow, every single time, it’s also the most gratifying. Often a person’s first experience of mountain hiking, hiking Indian Head can be a life-changing event.
The mountain gets its name from the long profile formed by its boreal summit and two eastern knolls. Best seen from a distance, especially from the north, the summit forms the forehead, the middle knoll forms the the nose, and the eastern knoll forms the chin.
This is a Lot of Mountain
Indian Head is one of the shorter peaks in the Catskills but don’t let that fool you. Its terrain and trails are exactly as rugged as a name like The Devil’s Path should suggest to you. The north, east and west sides of the mountain (where the hiking trails are) are rich with creeks and streams. The flora is ever-changing and, surprisingly for such popular and busy trails, there’s enough fauna to keep hunters engaged. It’s a pleasure to hike every inch of this hill.
The boreal summit is thickly forested with hemlocks and balsam firs, extending over the entire upper ridge. Large boulders and terrific ledges bring additional drama. Lower down, on the eastern side, there are stands of enormous virgin hemlock trees — unmolested by industry, primordial, and completely wonderful to walk through.
On the eastern side of the mountain is a 60ft (20m) near-vertical cliff you must climb, an absolute highlight for all who tackle it.
Climbing Indian Head
The quickest ascent is via the Jimmy Dolan Notch trail, which winds through some exceptionally lovely woods. The trail is quite rugged, full of signs of life, but is very steep just below the col.
The best route is via the red-blazed Devil’s Path, taken from Prediger Rd. This trail is consistently interesting, fun and beautiful in every season. There are several excellent scenic views. The view from the “nose” is one of my favorite views in the Park. And you come back down by the Jimmy Dolan trail, anyway, so you don’t miss anything.
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