Southwest Hunter from Stony Clove Notch

A steep but straightforward route to one of the easiest bushwhacks in the Catskills.

Hike Length: 6.4 miles (10.30 km)

Total Ascent: 1,650ft (503m)

Intensity: Difficult Catskills Hike

Route Type: Out-and-Back

Includes: Blazed Trail, Herd Path, Easy Bushwhack

Parent Southwest Hunter

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

Southwest Hunter from Stony Clove Notch

Stony Clove Notch

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 An out-and-back route to Southwest Hunter.

Hiking Trail Description

Southwest Hunter from Stony Clove Notch is a short steep hike along marked trails and a herd path where you’re never likely to see too many people.

Technically, Southwest Hunter mountain is a sub-peak of Hunter Mountain. It’s considered a Catskills high peak because of its separation from the main summit and due to its topographic prominence.

Hunter Mountain is named after John Hunter, after whom the town of Hunter is also named. Southwest Hunter is also known as Leavitt Peak, and an effort is underway to have the mountain named so in memory of Bill & Elinore Leavitt, two founders of the Catskill 3500 Club.

This is a bushwhack hike.

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Southwest Hunter Hiking Trail

The hiking trail to Southwest Hunter from Stony Clove Notch includes…

  • Dramatic views from Notch Lake
  • A steep and rocky start
  • Quiet trails
  • A lean-to
  • A sweet, easy off-trail hike to the summit canister

Southwest Hunter Hiking Trail Notes & Gallery

Begin at Stony Clove Notch, such a dramatic and photogenic location in all four seasons.

Sign the register and begin climbing through the boulder field. You’ll soon come to some dramatic ledges and small cliffs…

icicles hanging on Southwest Hunter mountain
Southwest Hunter ledges in winter

There’s plenty of climbing at the start of this hike and so much beautiful mixed forest, but the birches really stand out…

winter scene on Southwest Hunter
Southwest Hunter

winter scene on Southwest Hunter
Southwest Hunter

Devil’s Acre

At the junction, turn left to head west and pass the lean-to shelter at Devil’s Acre…

lean-to in winter, covered in snow, on Southwest Hunter
Lean-to shelter at the Devil’s Acre

A stream runs close by. This is great spot to rest, or campout — in fact, it’s one of the highest legal camping spots in the Catskills.

Bushwhack Southwest Hunter

Not long after the lean-to, keep an eye on your left for an unmarked junction. There may or may not be a cairn.

woods clearing
This clearing and cairn marks the start of the herd path out to Southwest Hunter

Follow the long straight herd path (an old narrow-gauge railway bed) until the trail lets you know it’s time to start climbing to the summit.

unmarked trail
Southwest Hunter herd path

There are several herd paths that split and reconnect. Follow the rule of up.

Eventually, you’ll find the canister

winter scene and orange canister on Southwest Hunter

Southwest Hunter orange canister
Sean at Southwest Hunter’s canister

From here, return the way you came to Stony Clove Notch.

Similar Hikes

Southwest Hunter can also be approached from Diamond Notch, or as part of a gorgeous 10 mile loop around Hunter Mountain.

This is a bushwhack hike.

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The parent mountain for this hike is Southwest Hunter.

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Trailhead Info for this Hike

Medium sized lot right in the middle of the Devil’s Path

Google Maps Location: 42.159362, -74.203503

The map below shows the exact topographic location of the trailhead

Cell Service

None at trailhead. Some up higher. Patchy always. My network is Verizon. YMMV.