Poet’s Ledge

A steep, rewarding hike. Beautiful woods. Incredible lookout.

Hike Length: 6.5 miles (10.46 km)

Total Ascent: 2,200ft (671m)

Intensity: Moderate Catskills Hike

Route Type: Out-and-Back

Includes: Blazed Trail, Road Walk

Parent Kaaterskill High Peak

rock ledge at the edge of a forest

Poet’s Ledge

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 A steep hike to an incredible ridge and lookout

Hiking Trail Description

This route to Poet’s Ledge on Kaaterskill High peak is very steep but very rewarding.

This hike is generally described as moderate. However because of its length, and because of the fairly relentless elevation gain, I felt it was on the upper end of moderate. I would suggest thinking of this route as “hard-moderate”.

There are no easy hikes to Poet’s Ledge. It’s in a relatively remote location. But the reward for your effort is one of The Catskills’ most dramatic scenic views. You will not be sorry you worked hard on this hike!

Side note: on a very sunny, perfect weekend hiking day, I saw zero people on this route. I did see one porcupine, and was extremely happy with that.

Poet’s Ledge Trailhead & Parking

I parked at the Harding Road Trailhead just outside of Palenville.

This is a small lot that mostly serves hikes up South Mountain to places like Palenville Overlook and Indian Head Overlook, Inspiration Point, Boulder Rock, and Kaaterskill Falls.

BTW, winter is coming — time to pick up a set of the best microspikes you can buy

Poet’s Ledge Hiking Trail

This hiking trail to Poet’s Ledge includes…

  • Road walk
  • Steep hiking trail
  • Evergreen forest
  • Pitch pine trees — very rare in The Catskills
  • At least two fantastic scenic views

 Warning! Do not park on Malden Avenue. Your car will definitely be towed away.

This trail guide is new. The hike was completed on June 5, 2022 under which date this page will eventually be filed.
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Poet’s Ledge Trail Notes & Gallery

The only part of this route I didn’t love was the short road walk from the trailhead along Route 23A. It’s only 4/10ths of a mile but the road curves a lot, and the cars whizz by, and it doesn’t feel super safe. If you do this route, on this section especially, keep your wits about you.

After crossing the bridge over Kaaterskill Creek, turn left onto Malden Avenue. Please see the note above: do not give in to the temptation to park here. Walk around the iron gate.

Along Malden Avenue, enjoy views of Kaaterskill Creek on your left and some dramatic rock ledges on your right.

rock ledges in woods
Malden Avenue ledges

Notice all the posted private property signs / stay on the trail.

The quiet part of the trail ends at the beginning of another short (but thankfully very quiet) road walk.

After a few hundred feet, keep an eye on your right for these two poles…

aquamarine blazes painted on a telephone pole
Long Path blazes on pole

One has two aqua Long Path blazes painted on it.

Head uphill toward the large entrance sign for Big Medicine Ranch (which is private)…

entrance signs
Large Sign

Look for the actual hiking trail entrance, again on the right. It’s beside a red iron gate…

trail entrance beside a red gate
Trail entrance beside red gate

Pass through the wooden entrance.

Pass a creepy camper van parked on the left. You’ll see lots of trespassing warning signs on the lower section of this trail.

Continue uphill, following the blue and/or aqua blazes and avoiding any houses and private property.

Climb to First Lookout

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Similar Hikes

This is a super scenic hike. Definitely a Catskills highlight.

This is a moderate hike.

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The parent mountain for this hike is Kaaterskill High Peak.

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Trailhead Info for this Hike

Small lot just outside Palenville’s center that’s easy to pass by…

Google Maps Location: 42.176315, -74.031363

The map below shows the exact topographic location of the trailhead

Cell Service

I hate good LTE signal for most, if not all, of this hike. 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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