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A classic out-and-back.
Hiking Trail Description
The rugged, challenging hike up to Giant Ledge can be completed in about an hour. This has long been one of the top hiking destinations in the Catskills. It rewards hikers in every season.
Situated near Big Indian, New York, Giant Ledge beckons both seasoned hikers and newcomers to The Catskills. The trail, considered a challenging route, promises a rewarding journey through pristine wilderness to panoramic vistas. Multiple ledges provide ample opportunities to pause and soak in the magnificent surroundings.
Known for its remarkable effort-to-payoff ratio, those seeking an extra challenge can extend the basic 3.2-mile round-trip route by hiking out to the pine-cloaked 3,724-foot summit of Panther Mountain.
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Giant Ledge Hiking Trail
The Giant Ledge hiking trail includes…
- Footbridge over Esopus Creek
- Steep rocky trail
- A boulder field dominated by a beloved Catskill Ent
- A generally reliable mountain spring
- Some of the most breathtaking views in the Catskills
- Multiple camping spots all over the mountain
- A small view that most visitors never see
The attached GPS route for Giant Ledge takes in the mountain spring, primitive campsite on the ridge, all the main viewing ledges which face east, multiple primitive campsites on the summit, and the summit view which faces west.
A full breakdown is provided in the trail notes below, with over two dozen stunning photos.
How Long of a Hike is Giant Ledge in the Catskills?
If you hike only to the main views and back, allow 2-3 hours for this hike.
If you want to hit everything contained in this very detailed trail guide, allow 3-4 hours.
Parking for Giant Ledge
Get here early. And I mean early-early. For such a popular destination, parking in scant. On busy days, the lot is full by 8am and even earlier. Hikers, runners and photographers being arriving long before dawn.
Cell Service & Navigation
As in much of the Catskills, cell service here is spotty. Do not expect to be able to navigate this region with a cell-only service like Google Maps. Make sure you have AllTraills, GaiaGPS on your phone, or a paper map, to help keep you on track. This is a short hike, but it is still a wilderness hike.
Proper hiking footwear is also highly recommended, too, as this is definitely not a trail for Vans or sneakers.
Is Camping Allowed on Giant Ledge?
Yes! Because this Catskills summit is below 3500 feet, you can camp overnight here at any time of year — as long as you pitch your spot at least 150 feet from the trail or any water source. The best places to camp are at the official primitive campsites which are adequately hardened and most have stone fire rings.
Panther Mountain Crater
As is obvious from any map of the area, Giant Ledge and Panther Mountain sit at the center of a unique circular valley formed by Esopus Creek and Woodland Creek. This circular structure is associated with significant fracturing in the bedrock. Gravity and magnetic profiles indicate an 18-mgal negative anomaly, suggesting a near-surface source, possibly a buried meteorite crater.
Giant Ledge Trail Notes & Gallery
Time after time, this is one of my favorite trails in the Catskills. At any time of year, it’s an absolute joy to hike this short hike, and to sit quietly at the edge of one of the biggest views in the Catskills. There are at least five separate viewing ledges at Giant Ledge, so there is no shortage of views even on a busy weekend.
As you’ll see from the photo gallery below, Giant Ledge is not just one of the most scenic locations in the Catskills. It’s also one of the absolute best places in the entire Hudson Valley for watching sunrise.
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I hope you enjoyed this ultimate guide, and that it encourages you to explore more of Giant Ledge on your next visit.
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The parent mountain for this hike is Giant Ledge.
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Trailhead Info for this Hike
Medium sized lot which is way too small for one of the top Catskills destinations.
Google Maps Location: 42.026848, -74.404522
The map below shows the exact topographic location of the trailhead
None down by the trailhead and pretty patchy up high. Classic Catskills cell service experience. My network is Verizon. YMMV.