Loop Hike North Dome & Mount Sherrill

This hike begins with an easy section of marked trail on the Devil’s Path but then switches to one of the most challenging Catskills bushwhacks. The ledges of North Dome will absolutely test your nerve.

Hike Length: 8.3 miles (13.36 km)

Total Ascent: 2,446ft (746m)

Intensity: Hardest Catskills Hike

Route Type: Loop

Includes: Blazed Trail, Herd Path, True Bushwhack, Road Walk, Stream Crossing

Parent North Dome

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North Dome Marker

North Dome triangulation station marker

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 This route is roughly 25% trail, 50% bushwhack, and 25% road hike. The bushwhack section is difficult and strenuous.

Hiking Trail Description

Thinking about this bushwhack hike made me nervous. Thinking about doing it in April, in the snow, made me anxious. Finishing it made me happy.

The train begins at a small roadside parking area on Spruceton. This is the very end of the Devil’s Path. After a steep ¼ mile, the route becomes a fairly flat and extremely pleasant woods walk. You pass through varied forest stands, new and old, and dozens of dramatic moss-covered boulders are scattered among the trees. I’ve used this section of trail a few times since and I always love it.

At the signposts that point east, up to West Kill, I left the trail, hiking directly west, and rock-hopped across the swampy terrain toward North Dome. (Some people prefer to cross the stream and begin their bushwhack a little earlier in the hike.)

On the way up North Dome’s eastern flank, I counted at least eight ledge systems. In April, my hike began on dry leaves but quickly became a tramp through wet snow. Then deep wet snow. Then snow and hard ice.

The first ledges were quite easy. After that, they got trickier. Much trickier. The 6th ledge was enormous. I couldn’t see a way around it. I tracked north along its base until I found a way through.

After this, between the 7th and 8th ledges, there were some very step sections. I had to haul myself up on hands and knees, lurching between tree trunks, to edge myself up toward the lookout above the final ledge. I imagine there’s a better route.

On the way up, I followed prints through the snow where I could. But I also lost the trail several times. From the base of the mountain to the ledge at 3400’ took about 90 mins.

Ten minutes after the final ledge, hiking west across easy flats, I made it to the summit.

Canisters & Markers

The canisters on North Dome and Mount Sherrill are both easy to find. Follow the herd paths. They’re in relatively open, visible patches of woods, and are bright orange.

At North Dome there’s a large rock to sit on with an embedded geodetic survey marker that’s stamped “NORTH DOME 1940”. A good spot for a well-earned lunch.

I learned later that, as on Kaaterskill High Peak, there’s actually a second marker on North Dome’s summit. I only found the first one but I hear they’re about 10 meters from one another—the one that’s farther from the summit has an arrow that points back to the one that’s closer.

North Dome to Mount Sherrill

From North Dome, Sherrill’s peak is about 1¾ miles of pretty tough bushwhacking. I got off my planned route and veered north, but then picked up some bear prints in the snow. Those were fun to follow for a minute—until I realized, “Maybe, I shouldn’t be following… bear prints!”

The brush is very thick northwest of North Dome’s summit. I hear it’s thinner on the south-western side, so that may be a smarter way to head to Sherrill.

Bear Poop
Bear poop on Mt Sherrill

Down in the col, looking up at the next summit, I was tired and wondered if I had another 550’ of elevation in my legs. Cols bring out the doubt in me. But the climb was not as steep as the climb up North Dome. There were some ledges but nothing as memorable as earlier in the day. After 40 minutes, I made it to the second canister.

Sherrill’s canister is a little to the southeast of the true summit which itself, IIRC, is marked with a boulder.

The Hike Out

From Sherrill’s summit down to the road is about 2½ miles. I followed the ridge for a while, then found some bear poop and once again veered off my intended route.

After correcting, I made my way down toward the river and crossed Bennet Brook right before it empties into the West Kill. I wasn’t expecting to find a really nice waterfall and it gave me a real boost after the slog down from the summit.

Waterfall, Bennet Brook
This sweet waterfall was an unexpected treat at the end of a long hike

I crossed the bridge and hiked another two miles back to my car. I didn’t mind the road walk. After a hike like that, the asphalt felt like carpet.

This was a very difficult hike that left me feeling like I’d proved something to myself. I could do this! Hiking multiple peaks in one day always feels great.

The parent mountain for this hike is North Dome.

If you do this hike, LMK how it went…

Your comments are welcome here…

Trailhead Info for this Hike

Small lot.

Google Maps Location: 42.192116, -74.324233

The map below shows the exact topographic location of the trailhead