A wonderful out-and-back. Park by the micro-lot that’s right off Rte 214. Short steep road walk at start/finish.
Hiking Trail Description
This is one of the most outstanding and exceptionally well-designed trails in the Catskills. It offers multiple scenic viewpoints, some of which are the best in the Park. The rocky terrain and rolling woods on Daley Ridge are epic the whole way up. Then you get to Plateau, which is always a treat.
Notch Inn Road
Notch Inn Road is a steep ⅓ mile of paved road at the beginning and end of this route. Park in the micro-lot that’s right off Route 214. If that lot is full, park by the bridge that’s a little bit uphill. Do not drive up Notch Inn Rd. If you do, you’ll see the sign below.
When walking up Notch Inn Rd, stay to the left of the first house.
Further up, do not approach the second house. The trailhead is to the left, at the bottom of the big house’s driveway. However, it’s not signposted, and there’s no register. In the winter it’s hard to make out. Look for the yellow blazes on the trees. (In the Catskills, yellow blazes are used for short connector trails.)
Warner Creek Connector Trail
After starting the trail, you’ll notice it’s a drainage coming down from the notch above. It’s very rugged and uneven. Lots of rocks and flowing water.
Even here though, down low, the trail is very beautiful.
After snow, you’ll see tons of critter tracks…
At the top of the connector trail, you’ll come to this tree with three yellow blazes, marking the trail terminus. This is the intersection with the blue-blazed Warner Creek Trail. Straight ahead, the trail continues up to Edgewood Mountain.
To head to Plateau, turn left.
Lower Daley Ridge
The lower portion of the climb up Daley Ridge is characterized by switchbacks, open rock faces, large boulders, small ledges, and great views (in winter) of Southwest Hunter and Edgewood Mountain. It also includes the start of the dense forest that covers most of the upper ridge.
The views down low don’t photograph well, because of all the trees, but for Catskill-Mountains-nerds it’s still a real treat of a hike. There are so many cool angles on 3500 mountains, and the knob of Edgewood Mountain looks so dramatic.
Lots boulders to climb over and through. I hadn’t seen blazes nailed into rock before…
This kind of terrain and woods is some of my favorite stuff in the world.
I could hike this kind of trail forever.
At 2750’, you pass a long, remarkable rock wall on your left…
The scenic views marked on NYNJTC and GaiaGPS maps here, on the switchbacks, are interesting but not amazing. On the other hand, the terrain is consistently lovely.
There are no roses to stop and smell but so what? I prefer lichen anyway.
Upper Daley Ridge
This is a rare section of open woods on the upper, flat part of Daley Ridge. Most of the trail winds though a dense forest of spruce and fir.
After cresting Daley Ridge (3383’) you come down the other side and lose quite a bit of elevation before starting the final climb to Plateau’s long flat ridge.
I was resigned to the views not being great on Daley Ridge but I was wrong. At 3350’ there’s a ledge on the right side of the trail that’s just spectacular!
The view looks out through the glacial cirque to Olderbark. To the left, you see the southern hunk of Plateau’s summit. Behind Olderbark, in the distance, you can see the Burroughs Range.
The mountain on the right is the steep eastern slope of Daley Ridge. (Obscured behind Daley Ridge is Little Rocky.)
Not long after the lookout, you’ll come to a sign for the spring, and two 3500’ Elevation signs either side looking like back-up singers. Right after the signposts, is an extremely steep (but mercifully short) incline.
Above the 3500’ signs is a viewpoint that I missed. I was so beat (more on this later) I wasn’t paying attention and, from descriptions I’ve read online, it sounds like I missed a great view…
A little higher up, this twisted trunk is a sign you’re almost at the junction of the Warner Creek Trail and The Devil’s Path.
Plateau’s Ridge & Summit
Finally, you get to the easy bit: Plateau’s amazing long flat top with its extended tunnel views looking up and down its insane ridge.
The signposts at the junction give very wrong distance info. It’s not 2.2 or 2.3 miles to Rte 214. It’s at least 3 miles. (Many signs in the Catskills give old/wrong distance info. The best source of up-to-date info is the latest NYNJTC maps.)
Anyhoo, lots of this goodness up on Plateau…
Surprisingly, no-one had been up on Daley Ridge or Plateau since our last snowfall. The entire mountain was pristine. My tracks were the only human tracks.
3-4 minutes past the summit of Plateau, you descend to the large split rock ledge. The view from here is really great.
Temp at the summit was a balmy 22°F/-6°C.
Descent from Plateau
This hike really took it out of me. There’s nothing particularly tricky about it. It doesn’t have that much elevation and the grades are mostly moderate. I allowed 6 hours to get up and down. It took 8! I’m still puzzling over it. I hadn’t broken trail before. Maybe that slowed me down more than I might have expected…? I also hadn’t hiked in three weeks. Maybe my legs had lost some hill strength…? Or maybe I was just having an extra slow day…? But the footing on the hike was also quite tricky. My big toe took some wear and tear which is unusual. And my bum knee, which has never bothered me on a hike before, took a hit, too. If you do this hike, let me know how it was for you. I want to solve this mystery.
With all that said, it worked out perfectly because I ended up back at the wonderful lookout on Daley Ridge right at sunset.
I was able to hike down without my headlamp for quite a while…
But soon the woods became so dense and dark I couldn’t see my tracks any more, and I had to give in. On the other hand, Venus was shining very brightly, and very high, over Southwest Hunter. I walked out happy, in my little pool of light.
This is one of the most beautiful hikes you can do in the Catskills. Many experienced Catskills hikers cite it as a favorite hike. It’s definitely one I hope to do over and over. Check out this list of exceptionally beautiful hikes in the Catskills.
If you do this hike, let me know how it goes in the comments below…
Trailhead Info for this Hike
Description: Small lot right off 214.
Address: Notch Inn Rd, Hunter, NY 12450
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.
Location: The map below shows the exact topographic location of the trailhead.
Surprisingly good on most of Daley Ridge. A little less solid on Plateau’s ridge, but still was able to get a text out. (My network is Verizon. YMMV.)