Inspiration Point (Catskills)

A somewhat rugged but mostly very beautiful hike to one of The Catskills’ greatest lookouts.

Hike Length: 4.9 miles (7.89 km)

Total Ascent: 820ft (250m)

Intensity: Moderate Catskills Hike

Route Type: Out-and-Back

Includes: Blazed Trail, Rock Scrambles

Parent South Mountain

inspiration point view

Inspiration Point

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 An out-and-back with a loop section.

Hiking Trail Description

Inspiration Point in Kaaterskill Clove is one of the top scenic destinations in The Catskills.

It’s so gorgeous, I visited it twice this year. Once from Palenville Overlook and once from the Kaaterskill Falls side, which is the moderately challenging route described here.

Inspiration Point is an amazing location — and there are multiple amazing views before and after the main ledge. All along the way, the view across Kaaterskill Clove toward Kaaterskill High Peak and Poets Ledge is truly breathtaking.

Even better, once you get on the main trail, it’s pretty easy going, with hardly any elevation change. It’s a fantastic location for trail running, too, which is how I did this route.

Inspiration Point can also be approached from the east via Palenville Ledge and/or The Sketchiest Hike in The Catskills.

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Inspiration Point Hiking Trail

The Inspiration Point hiking trail from Scutt Road includes…

  • Southern terminus of the Escarpment Trail
  • Access route to Kaaterskill Falls
  • Rugged trail
  • Easy trail
  • Layman’s Monument (historical landmark)
  • Multiple exceptional ledge lookouts
  • Miles of incredible views
  • An opportunity to visit the ruins of Hotel Kaaterskill

This trail guide is new. The hike was completed on 9/1/22 under which date this page will eventually be filed.
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Inspiration Point Trail Notes & Gallery

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I trail ran this route in 1h 40m. Hikers should allow around 3 hrs.

Start at Scutt Road parking lot (which is a great fallback parking lot for Kaaterskill Falls during Fall Foliage in The Catskills. Walk into the woods across from the parking area and follow the blue blazes of the Escarpment Trail down to the first junction.

Turn right and head downhill. At the long footbridge, turn left and head up the stone staircase.

Pass the junction that leads down to Kaaterskill Falls — unless you want to add it to your itinerary.

From here on, the trail is considerably less used and is a little rough and rugged in spots.

Continue downhill. At a sharp bend, you’ll find…

Layman’s Monument

Layman’s Monument on the way to Inspiration Point
Layman’s Monument in Kaaterskill Clove

Layman’s Monument on the way to Inspiration Point
Layman’s Monument in Kaaterskill Clove

The monument reads: “In memory of Frank D. Layman of Haines Falls who lost his life on this spot Aug. 10, 1900, while with others fighting a forest fire which threatened to destroy the homes and business interests of the people of this place. By those grateful for his devoted service this monument is erected.”

Lookouts

There are too many lookouts on the way to Inspiration Point to keep count. Some have chiseled graffiti. (Please don’t add more graffiti. We know better now.) Some have cairns — for no discernible reason. (Also not great.) But the views are fantastic…

escarpment trail route to inspiration point
Lookout on Escarpment Trail

escarpment trail route to inspiration point
Lookout on Escarpment Trail

escarpment trail route to inspiration point
Lookout on Escarpment Trail

Inspiration Point

You will know Inspiration Point when you arrive. The open rock ledge is enormous and the cliff’s drop-off is vertical and probably deadly. (Watch your small children and dogs.)

inspiration point view
Inspiration Point

inspiration point view
Inspiration Point

inspiration point view
Inspiration Point cliffs

To your right, below Round Top, you can pick out the lines of homes in Twilight Park (also visible from the top of Kaaterskill Falls).

inspiration point view
Inspiration Point

Directly across Kaaterskill Clove from Inspiration Point are the shark-like humps of Kaaterskill High Peak and Round Top. (The distance between the two summits is about ⅘ of a mile.)

inspiration point view
Kaaterskill High Peak seen from Inspiration point

Return / More Great Views

Continue east along the Escarpment Trail. There are still more excellent views to enjoy, including the opening of the clove below…

view from Escarpment Trail
Entrance to Kaaterskill Clove below

view from Escarpment Trail
Entrance to Kaaterskill Clove below

There are several ways back to Scutt Road. At the next junction, you can take the yellow-blazed Horse Trail.

On this day, I continued past that junction and took the next junction and continued to follow the blue blazes of the Escarpment Trail northwest to the red Schutt Road trail where I turned left/west and headed back toward Scutt Road. (The spelling difference is confusing. It’s the same Scutt Road.)

Hotel Kaaterskill

My original plan for this hike was to include the short loop around the summit of South Mountain to visit the historical ruins of the Hotel Kaaterskill — billed at the time of its construction as the largest mountain hotel in the world. However, by the end of my sunset hike, it was too dark. I trail ran out with my headlamp.

BTW, you can read about the Fried Chicken War that was the impetus of the building of the Hotel Kaaterskill.

Similar Hikes

Inspiration Point can also be approached from the east via Palenville Ledge and/or The Sketchiest Hike in The Catskills.

On the opposite side of Kaaterskill Clove is another incredible view: Poets Ledge offers an incomparable view of the clove. The hike up to Poets Ledge is much longer and tougher than the hike to Inspiration Point, but absolutely worth the legwork.

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The parent mountain for this hike is South Mountain.

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Trailhead Info for this Hike

Large double-lot. Very popular destination.

Google Maps Location: 42.200524, -74.058205

The map below shows the exact topographic location of the trailhead

Cell Service

Patchy but some coverage while facing into Kaaterskill Clove. My network is Verizon. YMMV.

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Hello, I’m Sean

I write independent hiking content to help hikers like you find amazing hikes in the Catskills, Adirondacks, Gunks, Hudson Highlands, Taconics and beyond.

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