Hike Kaaterskill High Peak & 2 Plane Wrecks

KHP’s summit is a Catskills classic with a spectacular view from Hurricane Ledge. This route takes in two eerie plane wrecks, and there is much to see on the long trek in and out. This a tough, muddy, rewarding hike.

Hike Length: 8.7 miles (14.00 km)

Total Ascent: 1,968ft (600m)

Intensity: Difficult Catskills Hike

Route Type: Out-and-Back

Includes: Blazed Trail, Unmarked Trail, Herd Path, Stream Crossing

Parent Kaaterskill High Peak

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rock ledge

First of two ledges close to the summit of Kaaterskill High Peak

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 A long hike in and out, but the summit has so much.

Hiking Trail Description

This hike starts from Platte Clove and winds around the east side of Kaaterskill High Peak to tackle the final ascent via the northern ridge. You’ll hit all the major points of interest. 

Kaaterskill High Peak is said to be neglected but, on this day, there were 20 people ahead of me in the register. Some hikers may have been going to Huckleberry Point, a popular short hike, but I met plenty of people on the mountain itself too.

Every week, online, I see new photos from Kaaterskill High Peak. With hiking numbers up across the country, KHP seems to be back on the hiking radar.

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Kaaterskill High Peak Hiking Trail

During the warmer months, when the eastern side of Platte Clove Rd is open, the dramatic drive up the winding cliff road is always 50% fun / 50% nerve-wracking — they close this route in winter for a reason. (Here’s the alternate route to use when Platte Clove Road is closed.)

The parking lot for this hike is the same one you use for hiking to Huckleberry Point, to visit Plattekill Falls, or even to hike into Echo Lake. The lot is large enough but it fills up quickly on busy weekends.

The Kaaterskill High Peak hiking trail includes…

  • A long, muddy walk in
  • Many, many junctions
  • Mohawk camp site
  • Two plane wrecks
  • A 3500 canister
  • Amazing view from Hurricane Ledge
  • Pine Planes

Allow 5-6 hours for this hike. A full breakdown is provided in the trail notes below, with 23 remarkable photos.

Trail Notes & Gallery

This route is a nocturne: it has a calm beginning, a burst of high drama, then a return to calm.

The register is on the west side of the lot, and marks the entrance to the trail. Sign in and begin your hike on the blue trail, heading north.

Cairns & Blazes

I was surprised to see so many cairns on the lower portion of this hike. They kept me company for quite a while, marking entry points into the woods heading west. I heard a lot of animal activity in this area. I suspect the cairns may be markers placed by hunters.

This trail is also a snowmobile trail so the trail blazes are doubled up: blue and red together.

trail blazes on tree
Blue Trail / Snowmobile Trail

After you pass the junction with the yellow trail, the woods switch abruptly to a hardwood stand. For the next while, the flora switches back and forth between hardwood and deciduous forest, over very wet and swampy terrain.

This hike is known for its long stretches of deep, thick mud — so a pair of gaiters is a good idea for this hike.

There are several footbridges to cross. The brooks and streams are very lively…

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Similar Hikes

This was my final Catskill 3500 hike. It was such a great mountain to finish on. From Hurricane Ledge, I was able to look directly across at Indian Head where my mountain hiking journey began. That was a very special feeling.

If you’re working on your 3500’s, keep a few special ones for the end: Sugarloaf, Black Dome, Twin, Hunter and Balsam Lake all offer wonderful views of multiple Catskill peaks. It’s such a nice way to bring your quest to a close.

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The parent mountain for this hike is Kaaterskill High Peak.

If you do this hike, LMK how it went…

5 responses to “Hike Kaaterskill High Peak & 2 Plane Wrecks

  1. Did KHP from the North 11/20 – we “almost” needed spikes, but there was enough ice-free rock to get to the top. Did it again on 11/24 via Hurricane Ledge. It was noticeably colder than the 20th, but sunny, so the southern exposure meant HL was mostly ice free. Good idea, this time of year, to carry traction (spikes and/or crampons) just in case.

  2. This was very helpful. There are a few spots where you say East when you should mean West that might be confusing.

    “After about 2¼ miles, I came to the junction with a herd path that leads off the main trail. It appears on your left, and heads east, just before main trail bends northeast.”

    I ended up doing the peak from the Southern side. It was steep as you got close to the top but as long as you paid attention to the route and didn’t go up a wrong steeper way it wasn’t bad and was a fun way to do the loop.

    1. Dallas, thanks so much for catching this. I try very hard to not make that kind of mistake, and always double-check my east/west directions — but somehow this one slipped past. Really appreciate your catching it. I have updated the text. // I’m looking forward to trying that southern climb!

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Trailhead Info for this Hike

Medium-sized lot. Fills up early on busy weekends and holidays.

Google Maps Location: 42.133525, -74.082396

The map below shows the exact topographic location of the trailhead

Cell Service

No signal down low. Patchy up high. My network is Verizon. YMMV.