A straightforward trailed out-and-back, with a short bushwhack to the summit of Mt Pleasant.
Hiking Trail Description
This trail is so beautiful. This hike track covers half of a 10 mile section that was recently built over three years following the latest trail-building standards. It is the best-designed and built new trail in the Catskills, and contains some of the best views in the Park.
My original plan was to hike from Woodland Valley down to Phoenicia, but that requires a car shuttle — and COVID has stopped car-sharing cold. So I did the first half as an out-and-back, from Phoenicia. I’ll do the other half soon.
The hike from this end is not super well-know but is beloved by locals, for good reason: the hike up to Romer is only 3 miles and the trail is exceptionally lovely.
The lot is small, with space for 5 or 6 cars, and maybe 2 more parked carefully to the side. You have to drive through Phoenicia briefly to get to it.
The trail passes directly into the woods and zig zags uphill through a series of switchbacks, crossing drainages and small streams. The first mile-and-a-half is moderately steep.
First you’ll pass this section, just below a spring…
Then a ridiculously picturesque series of steps…
This boulder is as big as a small bus…
The First Marker
After 1.5 miles, you’ll come to this massive long rock, one of many dramatic rock outcroppings and erratics on the trail. Good spot for a snack.
Not long after the first marker, you’ll pass this insane-looking glacial erratic…
From here, keep an eye to the right side of the trail. When the leaves are off the trees, you’ll get your first glimpse of Wittenberg which seems to constantly move farther away, the closer you get to it.
At 1950’ you’ll come to this fun rock channel…
At around 2000’ just below the summit of Romer, you’ll pass through this weird arrangement of large boulders.
Climb a few steps and soon the summit comes into view.
I poked around for a bit and this does seem to be the highest point, though it’s not the spot marked on GPS maps.
Most people end their hike here and return to the parking area, for a total of six miles. But there is so much goodness beyond…
The trail continues to the right. Pass under this blowdown trunk and between the boulders.
Toward Mt Pleasant
The first scenic view on the way down Romer is partially screened by trees. But you can clearly see the Eastern Devil’s Path and Ticetonyk Mountain.
The trail winds up the northern side of Mt Pleasant, through open deciduous woods. I saw my first porcupine here, and was impressed by its comically unhurried waddle.
The terrain here is a little higher than Romer. There’s a sweet hemlock stand to pass through, and lots of chartreuse-colored moss carpeting.
The next scenic view marked on NYNJTC maps is the first real view of Wittenberg. Merely an appetizer of what’s to come.
The third scenic view is again looking east to the Eastern Devil’s Path…
Grand Vista: The Wittenberg
Not long after — a little less than 2 miles from the summit of Romer — you come to a rocky outcropping that GaiaGPS calls “Den with a View”. A bald ledge faces southwest up through Cross Mountain Hollow to the unbelievably dramatic-looking vista.
Wittenberg’s shark-fin is flanked on the right by Slide Mountain and, on the left, Friday Mountain & Balsam Cap. This view is crazy ridiculous and was beyond anything I‘d hoped to see. I can‘t wait to get back out here in the fall and in winter.
The view also extends well south to Ashokan High Point, which is about 8 miles away.
I dropped down to explore the “den“ a little. I didn’t find any much evidence of coyotes or bears but, honestly, I spent most of my time just soaking in that incredible view.
Bushwhack to Summit of Mt Pleasant
From the ledge, I hiked another 1000’ or so up the trail to gain some elevation before beginning the bushwhack at the first section that looked passable.
There were two ledge systems to climb. The woods are really thick up there, so it took a bit of effort for 10-15 minutes to get to the summit, which is marked with a boulder and a cairn. Nothing fancy, no views.
I enjoy out-and-backs about as much as thru-hikes. I love seeing cool things for a second time, from the reverse angle, and after a few hours when the light has changed.
One Last View
Who wouldn’t want to look at this one more time?
This is definitely a beautiful hike, the trail is just exceptional all the way. If you’re prepared to work for an amazing scenic view, and don’t mind a long hike, this is the hike for you. (And if not, here are some short hikes you can do.)
Trailhead Info for this Hike
Description: Small lot, fits 5-6 cars.
Address: Lane Street, Phoenicia, NY 12464
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 bad all along the main route, until the epic lookout at the far end where there was a strong LTE signal. My network is Verizon. YMMV.