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Hike Panther from Fox Hollow

This rarely-used rugged northern route up Panther is so rewarding. If you love solitude, wildlife and fantastic views, this is the hike for you.

Hike Length: 9.5 miles (15.29 km)

Total Ascent: 2,950ft (899m)

Intensity: Difficult Hike

Route Type: Out-and-Back

Includes: Blazed Trail

Parent Panther

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

boulder and trail sign

3500’ Elevation Sign on the north side of Panther Mountain

 A long out-and-back with a very steep first and last mile.

Hiking Trail Description

Most hikers climb Panther Mountain from the south via Giant Ledge. That classic route is super fun but much shorter and it offers far less elevation gain. This northern route, through the barely-travelled Fox Hollow — a quiet and wild place — offers ever-changing terrain and lots of wildlife. The long steep climb is rewarded by dramatic terrain on the upper northern ridge, and by an epic view of the Western Devil’s Path that most hikers never see.

There’s nothing technically tricky about this route. Even the dramatic rock scrambles near the summit don’t require anything more than thoughtful footing. But I’ve marked it difficult because it’s long, and because the first mile is so steep. In terms of effort, this single-peak hike is equivalent to hiking Wittenberg & Cornell from Woodland Valley. This is a great hike if you seek solitude.

The parking area for Fox Hollow is a good size. The lot is used by locals who walk here regularly, and for accessing the nearby brooks, but this trail is comparatively little-used by hikers and you’ll likely always be able to grab a spot.

After a very easy 500’ of flat trail, turn left and begin your ascent. The trail is immediately steep and gets steeper.

trail sign
Fox Hollow trail sign

After ¼ mile or so, you’ll come to a sign pointing right, to a spur trail which leads quickly to the Fox Hollow lean-to and a spring.

lean-to in woods
Fox Hollow lean-to

Return to the trail, and continue uphill. It’s a bit of a slog but on the other hand, by May, the woods are alive with birdsong. You’ll hear plenty of thrushes and woodpeckers.

The forest is mostly open deciduous with the odd hemlock tree mixed in.

woods
Open woods in Fox Hollow

If you look over your shoulder, the large mountain rising up behind you is Garfield.

There are a few rugged patches and lots of blowdown but, mostly, it’s just a lot of work to gain the ridge.

But there’s some fun nature stuff along the way…

I noticed very few scratches in the rocks in Fox Hollow. Compared with the southern route, it’s just one more clue that very few hikers climb Panther this way, at least not in trail crampons or snowshoes.

rock scramble
Easy rock scramble

Flora & Fauna

I never saw so many chipmunks and birds. On my way out, I came very close to two young deer, just minutes apart from each other.

small flowers
Spring beauties
bird perched on branch in woods
Dark-eyed Junco
bird perched on old log
Hermit Thrush

At first, this deer and I spooked each other pretty badly but we ended up exchanging extremely meaningful eye contact. I think… we became… friends?

deer in woods
Young deer

Grand Northern Ledge View

Above 3000’ the trail becomes increasingly rugged and delightful. At 3200’ or just above, you’ll come to this ledge on the left side of the trail. The view is excellent: a great close-up view of Mount Sherrill and North Dome, St. Anne’s Peak and West Kill.

rock ledge
Grand Northern Ledge

From there, the trail winds around a knob until you come up to an open flat area guarded by two small boulders.

flat area, two boulders
Flat open rock area

Through the trees to the left, Sherrill and North Dome are once again visible.

The trail continues south and descends briefly through some dramatic rock formations…

rock wall covered in moss
Rock wall with inclusions

There are some nice easy flat sections too…

woods
Easy woods walk

Rock Scrambles

Pass over another minor summit and you’ll finally arrive at the base of the main summit knob. From here, the hike really kicks off with several enormous rock channels to climb through and consistently interesting hiking terrain…

rock passage
Rock passage
rock passage, trees, moss
Rock passage
boulders, rocks, trees, moss
Rock passage

BTW, on this side of the mountain there is a gravity anomaly. Panther sits on top of an ancient asteroid impact crater, which struck the area from the south. You can read about it in this fascinating post about the geological history of Panther Mountain.

boulder scramble
Another fun scramble

Past the 3500’ elevation sign the trail gets steep for the last push to the summit…

boulder and trail sign
3500’ Elevation Sign on the north side of Panther Mountain
rock drama
Second massive rock channel/passage
rock ledge
Climb through here

Panther’s Summit

Once you get to 3600’ the going is much easier. Panther’s summit ridge is huge, and is packed with pine trees that smell amazing all year long.

sunlight in forest hiking trail
Easy, beautiful hiking

The few remaining rock ledges are small and easy to scramble over…

rock ledge
Small rock ledge

Scenic Ledge

About 800’ before the actual summit, you’ll come to an open ledge with an excellent view east. You can see the entire Devil’s Path, Plattekill and Overlook.

scenic view of Catskills mountains
Scenic view from Panther’s best ledge
scenic view
Scenic View, Panther Mtn

Carefully lean out and look to the right to see the Ashokan Reservoir guarded by Ticetonyk Mountain.

scenic view
Scenic View, Panther Mtn

Looking back to the left…

mountain in distance
North Dome
mountains in distance
Rusk (behind/left) and West Kill (in front/right)

Summit Ledge

A few minutes further on from the Scenic Ledge you’ll come to the summit, which is marked by a smaller ledge and a tree with gnarly, looped roots.

summit of Panther
Summit (notice the looped roots of the tree)

From here, I headed back immediately to the scenic ledge to admire the view.

Then I stepped into the woods where a short herd path leads to a very peaceful place to sit in a moss-carpeted open area. It’s a great place to eat lunch if you don’t want to sit out in the blasting sun.

This is a very underrated and underused route. If you’re up for a longer hike, don’t mind some steep work, and enjoy solitude, this is a wonderful route to tackle: rugged and scenic.

Trailhead Info for this Hike

Description: Medium-sized lot. Not a popular route, so usually less busy than many lots.

GPS Location: 42.096999, -74.391620

Location: The map below shows the exact topographic location of the trailhead.

Cell Service

Once you get some elevation, you’ll have service for much of the hike. Only a few dead spots once you’re up on the ridge, above the first great look-out/ledge. My network is Verizon. YMMV.

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