Plateau via Daley Ridge

Daley Ridge is rugged, densely wooded, and absolutely charming. Many long-time Catskills hikers feel this is one of the most beautiful hikes in the Catskills. The hike comes in three parts: the initial climb up Daley Ridge, the ridge itself, and the magical walk to Plateau’s summit. Each of these sections is exceptionally memorable.

Hike Length: 9.1 miles (14.64 km)

Total Ascent: 2,328ft (710m)

Intensity: Difficult Catskills Hike

Route Type: Out-and-Back

Includes: Blazed Trail, Road Walk

Parent Plateau

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Sunest view from Daley Ridge

Looking toward Olderbark from Daley Ridge at 5pm

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 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 winter it’s hard to make out. Look for the yellow blazes on the trees. (In the Catskills, yellow blazes are always used for short connector trails.)

No Parking Sign, Notch Inn Road
On Notch Inn Road, park well away from any houses

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.

Yellow trail blaze
Yellow connector trail gets you to the blue Warner Creek Trail

Even here though, down low, the trail is very beautiful.

Snow, trees
The yellow trail is a drainage, so the footing is tricky

After snow, you’ll see tons of critter tracks…

Tracks in snow
Lots of fresh critter tracks in the snow

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.

trail terminus
Terminus of yellow connector trail. Turn left, here, and follow the blue blazes up.

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.

Blue trail blazes on tree
Lots of switchbacks lower down. Keep an eye out for these doubled-up wayfinding blazes. Here, the trail is about to take a sharp right.

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.

trees and mountains in the distance
Great views of Southwest Hunter’s dramatic ridges, and of Edgewood Mountain, through bare trees

Lots boulders to climb over and through. I hadn’t seen blazes nailed into rock before…

rock, moss, snow, trees
Lower down, lots of easy fun clambering through rock formations

trees, snow, sunlight, catskills

This kind of terrain and woods is some of my favorite stuff in the world.

trees, snow, sunlight, catskills
Lower Daley Ridge has some of my favorite terrain
trees, snow, sunlight, catskills
Lower Daley Ridge has some of my favorite terrain

I could hike this kind of trail forever.

trees, snow, sunlight, catskills
Lower Daley Ridge has some of my favorite terrain

At 2750’, you pass a long, remarkable rock wall on your left…

rock wall
This rock wall at 2750’ is a treat

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.

rocks, icicles
Lots of exposed rock

There are no roses to stop and smell but so what? I prefer lichen anyway.

lichens on tree trunk

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.

trail, rocks, trees, snow
Upper Daley Ridge

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.)

Afternoon view from Daley Ridge
Looking toward Olderbark from Daley Ridge at 3pm

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.

Signposts on Daley Ridge
Spring and two 3500’ signs

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.

Twisted tree trunk
Twisted trunk on Daley Ridge

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.)

Trail intersection signposts
Intersection of Warner Creek Trail & The Devil’s Path

Anyhoo, lots of this goodness up on Plateau…

Long trail view
Long trail view on Plateau’s ridge

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.

Long trail view
Long trail view on Plateau’s ridge

3-4 minutes past the summit of Plateau, you descend to the large split rock ledge. The view from here is really great.

View from lookout on Plateau
Sugarloaf’s northern flank
View from lookout on Plateau
Round Top & Kaaterskill High Peak

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.

Sunest view from Daley Ridge
Looking toward Olderbark from Daley Ridge at 5pm

I was able to hike down without my headlamp for quite a while…

Snow prints, woods
Retracting my own footsteps

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.

Similar Hikes

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.

The parent mountain for this hike is Plateau.

If you do this hike, LMK how it went…

Your comments are welcome here…

Trailhead Info for this Hike

Small lot that’s right off 214.

Google Maps Location: 42.141049, -74.212198

The map below shows the exact topographic location of the trailhead

Cell Service

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.