Kaaterskill High Peak via Hurricane Ledge

A long wet hike in to the base of the summit, an epic Catskills climb, and two plane wrecks.

Hike Length: 8.2 miles (13.20 km)

Total Ascent: 2,000ft (610m)

Intensity: Difficult Catskills Hike

Route Type: Lollipop

Includes: Blazed Trail, Herd Path, Rock Scrambles

Parent Kaaterskill High Peak

Similar Entries In: Catskills, The Difficult Hikes, , , , , , , , .

Hurricane Ledge on Kaaterskill High Peak

Base of Hurricane Ledge

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 Lollipop route from Platte Clove.

Hiking Trail Description

I’d wanted to hike Kaaterskill High Peak via Hurricane Ledge for a long time. It definitely lived up to the hype.

There are two ways to get to the herd path that leads up to Hurricane Ledge.

From the west, you can hike in via Gillespie Road with a short bushwhack at the start of your hike.

From the southeast, you begin at the popular trailhead for Kaaterskill High Peak and Huckleberry Point in Platte Clove — and this is the route a friend and I hiked for this trail guide.

Both routes are long, and feel longer. I joke that Kaaterskill High Peak is 80% trail and 20% mountain. That’s how it always feels to me. But that 20% is so great!

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Note: Kaaterskill High Peak is well-known as a wet, muddy mountain, but parts of the snowmobile trail that runs around Round Top and KHP are on the verge of being swampland. I have top-shelf waterproof hiking boots, but even they were no match for the deep suck of Kaaterskill High Peak’s lower slopes.

Rescues on Kaaterskill High Peak

Summiting Kaaterskill High Peak is technically a bushwhack but the herd paths from the main, blazed trails to the summit are now so well-developed — disastrously so, in fact, with major trail erosion as a result — that the bushwhack portions of this hike are bushwhacks in name only.

However, away from any trail, strong backcountry navigation skills are crucial. On KHP, just staying on the trails is difficult enough…

Very soon after we did this hike, there were several rescues of inexperienced and unprepared hikers on Kaaterskill High Peak. Some were caught off guard by the end of Daylight Savings Time, which meant sunset was an hour earlier. Others simply got lost.

In fact, as we finished this hike, we came across a rescue in progress. A small group of hikers had wandered off trail, not far from the trailhead, and become disoriented in the forest. Easy to do, here, as the trail is not well marked and there are several intersecting woods roads that run through the area.

At the very least, make sure you have a navigation app on your phone such as AllTrails — though a map and compass will never let you down the way a phone’s battery can.

 Warning! Attempting a climb of Hurricane Ledge in winter conditions is foolhardy for anyone but experienced winter mountaineers who have both the gear and the skills to meet the challenge. The ledge sits atop a cliff. The margin for error is zero. You are a long long way from help. I was unnerved doing it in the fall when it was merely dripping wet, not covered in thick ice. Consider doing this hike in warmer months only.

Kaaterskill High Peak via Hurricane Ledge Hiking Trail

The hiking trail and herd path to Hurricane Ledge includes…

  • Old woods roads
  • Constant wet trails and, often, deep mud
  • A few sweet boardwalks
  • Old Mohawk camp
  • Swampy snowmobile trails
  • A very steep climb to the very tricky Hurricane Ledge
  • A second ledge that’s a little tricky too
  • Two plane wrecks
  • Bushwhack routes up and down the summit
  • A long, wet walk out

Kaaterskill High Peak via Hurricane Ledge Trail Notes & Gallery

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Start at the parking area in Platte Clove, sign the register, and hike up the old woods road. There are several junctions with other woods roads and signage is sparse, so keep an eye for the few helpful blazes and unofficial signposts.

The wetness begins immediately…

HIker on her way to Kaaterskill High Peak
Walking in to Kaaterskill High Peak

Mohawk Camp & 1987 Plane Wreck

You can read a detailed description of how to find the Mohawk Indian Camp and both plane wrecks in Kaaterskill high Peak & 2 Plane Wrecks, but the GPS track attached to this blog post will bring you to each of those locations too.

stone fire circle in woods
Mohawk Indian Camp

Above the Mohawk camp, you’ll pop out onto the snowmobile trail. Turn left/west and begin the slog through increasingly wet trail…

Snowmobile trail on Kaaterskill High Peak
Swampy snowmobile trail

Pass the first, small plane wreck which is right on the snowmobile trail…

plane wreck on Kaaterskill High Peak
1987 plane wreck on Kaaterskill High Peak

plane wreck on Kaaterskill High Peak
1987 plane wreck on Kaaterskill High Peak

There weren’t many dry spots on this part of the trail so we made the most of them…

hiker in woods
Hiker on snowmobile trail

Herd Path to Hurricane Ledge

Look for this rock formation that marks the beginning of the herd path to Hurricane Ledge. It’s not much of a marker, and in winter will likely be covered in snow. A good reminder to rethink your plan to hike this route in winter.

herd path to Hurricane Ledge
Start of herd path to Hurricane Ledge

The herd path to Hurricane Ledge is steep, then it gets steeper, and then it gets sketchy steep.

There are actually two ledges to climb.

The first ledge, at 3300’ feet, isn‘t too bad. It leads to a flat area. At the top of the first ledge, head east/right to get to the base of Hurricane Ledge proper, which looks like this…

hurricane ledge on kaaterskill high peak
Base of Hurricane Ledge

…and this…

Hurricane Ledge on Kaaterskill High Peak
Base of Hurricane Ledge

When I got near the top of this section, I found myself inside a small chimney and was met with a problem that took me five minutes to screw up the courage to deal with. It was like climbing into a giant’s mouth and finding yourself in a gap where a tooth has fallen out. The day was also warm enough that the snow and ice above was melting and water was pouring through the chute. Eventually, I found my footing and was able to pull myself up.

My buddy scooted up through the chute in just a few seconds, LOL…

hiker climbing Hurricane Ledge
Hiker in the chasm

I swear it looked worse from below!

It’s worth repeating: the rock chute, here, sits at the edge of a cliff where the margin for error is zero. This climb should only be attempted by experienced mountain hikers when it’s ice-free.

Hurricane Ledge is at 3400’…

Hurricane Ledge
Hurricane Ledge in November

To get the most of the view from Hurricane Ledge, arrive as early in the day as you can. In the late afternoon, the sun shines directly in your face and the view looks like this (kinda washed out)…

view from hurricane ledge
View from Hurricane Ledge, late afternoon

Earlier in the day, the light hits the valley from behind and lights up the Devils Path mountains just right…

hiker in snow walking on hurricane ledge on kaaterskill high peak
Hiker on Hurricane Ledge

Summit & 1983 Plane Wreck

From the ledge, we hiked up to the summit, signed in at the canister, and visited the second plane wreck

hiker in woods
Hiker heading to the summit

orange canister in woods
Catskill 3500 Canister at the summit of Kaaterskill High peak

hiker with open canister
Sean at canister

plane wreck on kaaterskill high peak
1983 plane wreck on Kaaterskill High peak

There is a partial view of North/South Lake near the plane wreck…

lake in distance
North/South Lake

Descent & Walk Out

The long descent from Kaaterskill High peak and the long walk out are both — long! (But we definitely didn’t want to climb back down Hurricane Ledge.)

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The herd path leads down from the summit on the north side of the mountain. There are some peekaboo views on the way down…

blackhead mountains in distance
Blackhead Range

overlooks in the distance
Indian Head Overlook & Palenville Overlook on South Moutain

The herd path here is very rugged and wet…

herd path
Herd path

Eventually, you’ll make it to the junction with the snowmobile loop. Turn right and you’ll quickly arrive at a second junction.

At the second junction, you can choose to continue along the snowmobile trail, then make your way down to the Mohawk Camp and hike out the way you came, following the blue blazes of the main trail when you find them.

Or you can take the short connector trail further downhill to a third junction, then again head right along the main trail, following the blue blazes through the Pine Plains and all the way back to the trailhead.

Don’t forget to sign out.

Similar Hikes

Kaaterskill High Peak is always a blast. If you like very scenic hikes, it’s a great hike.

If you like visiting wrecks, it certainly has you covered on that score too.

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The parent mountain for this hike is Kaaterskill High Peak.

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Trailhead Info for this Hike

Large lot, very popular.

Google Maps Location: 42.133700, -74.082171

The map below shows the exact topographic location of the trailhead

Cell Service

Sketchy at trailhead. Patchy throughout. Best service up very high. My network is Verizon. YMMV.