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The Absolute Best Route for Hiking Slide Mountain

This route features an easy ascent, great views before and after the summit, and a slightly different descent route that passes through more varied woods and terrain.

Hike Length: 6.9 miles (11.10 km)

Total Ascent: 1,835ft (559m)

Intensity: Moderate Hike

Route Type: Out-and-Back

Includes: Blazed Trail, River Crossing

Parent Slide

Similar Entries In: Catskills, Moderate Hikes, , .

View from Slide Mountain

Excellent view from not far beyond the summit of Slide Mountain

 A straight-forward run up Slide, then over the summit to a solid view. Return by the far more interesting Curtis-Ormsbee Trail.

Hiking Trail Description

Most people seem to run up and down Slide Mountain pretty uneventfully. If you stick to the classic route, you bag the peak but see only a small amount of what Slide has to offer. Instead, follow this route to squeeze far more out of your hike with hardly any extra effort.

Start at the DEC Slide Mountain Trailhead on Oliverea Road. After parking your car, the first thing you need to check is if the Neversink River is passable. The name “Neversink” comes from a corruption of an Algonquian language phrase meaning “mad river”. Indeed, the river is sometimes dry, sometimes a brook, sometimes a stream, sometimes an uncrossable river, and sometimes a raging 6’ torrent. On this day, luckily, it was mostly frozen over, making it easy to pick my way across.

I took the classic route straight up and made it to the summit in about 90 mins. A little way before the summit there’s a really great view from an opening (on the left as you ascend) of Panther Mountain and Giant Ledge. A little higher still is a second overlook, which is better for taking a look at Wittenberg and Cornell. There is no real view at the summit.

Past the summit, there’s a large flat area where you can have a rest and eat your lunch. From here, to the east, you can see the Ashokan Reservoir—so far below and small, you might mistake it for a river.

At the end of the open area, there’s a small ledge. Drop down here. On the far side is the Burroughs Plaque, which commemorates John Burroughs, who brought the entire Catskills area to fame.

Next, if you’re facing the plaque, behind your back, the trail continues downhill toward Cornell and Wittenberg mountains. It can be a little tough to find among the trees but poke around until you spot a red blaze. The trail is steep and rugged but, if you descend carefully for 5-10 minutes, you’ll come to a large, distinctive, oblong boulder that protrudes toward Cornell and Wittenberg. (See the feature photo above.) To their left, in the distance, you can see the Devil’s Path mountains: Indian Head, Twin, Sugarloaf, Plateau, and Hunter Mountain. It’s a great view.

To begin your descent, turn around and head back up to the summit. After 30 mins or so, you’ll come to a junction: straight down is the red-blazed trail you first came up. To your left is the blue-blazed Curtis-Ormsbee Trail, named for two hikers from New York who died in a sudden snowstorm in the Presidential Range in 1900. The trail winds down through several distinct varieties of woodland, past a good view of Table Mountain and a huge rock chasm (on your right as you descend).

At the bottom of this trail, turn right to follow the yellow-blazed trail back down to the parking area.

Another easy hike is Balsam Lake— the fire tower at the summit has an amazing view. If you want to add some difficulty, but not too much difficulty, have a think about Giant Ledge or Indian Head.

Trailhead Info for this Hike

Address: 2099 Oliverea Rd, Big Indian, NY 12410
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.

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