Sugarloaf in Winter (Safest Route)

A beautiful hike to one of the grandest of Catskills high peaks.

Hike Length: 6.6 miles (10.62 km)

Total Ascent: 2,000ft (610m)

Intensity: Difficult Catskills Hike

Route Type: Out-and-Back

Includes: Blazed Trail, Rock Scrambles, Stream Crossing

Parent Sugarloaf

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

catskills red barn and sugarloaf mountain seen in the snow

Sugarloaf Mountain in Winter

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 Pretty straightforward out-and-back.

Hiking Trail Description

This is the safest route to the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain in winter: via Dibbles Quarry and Pecoy Notch from the Roaring Kill trailhead.

In the coldest months, the western slopes of the eastern Devils Path mountains are covered in treacherous ice. One of the worst-affected is Sugarloaf mountain, whose steep and rugged western slope in winter is locally known as “Suicide Mountain”.

When the ice gets thick enough, full winter mountaineering gear (and skills) are required to summit Sugarloaf from Mink Hollow.

The safer route on this page is still plenty challenging. It’s also extremely beautiful.

Even so, I had to abandon this route in February 2022 at 3200’ because weather conditions deteriorated below my risk tolerance. I came back two weeks later — on a calm, sunny day — and got it done. You’ll see the difference in the two days in the mix of photos below.

Remember: if you think it might be a good idea to turn around on a hike, it’s probably a good idea to turn around on a hike.

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Sugarloaf Mountain Winter Hiking Trail

The Sugarloaf-From-Roaring-Kill hiking trail includes…

  • A fantastic bluestone quarry with fantastic views
  • An idyllic stream crossing
  • A beaver pond
  • Rugged rocks-and-roots terrain
  • Great views of Twin Mountain
  • An enormous boreal Catskills summit
  • Great views of the central Catskills

In winter, you will need at least microspikes to hike. When the snow is deeper than 8″, switch to snowshoes. Read this Winter Hiking Essential Roundup.

This trail guide is new. The hike was completed on 2/20/22 under which date this page will eventually be filed.

Sugarloaf in Winter Trail Notes & Gallery

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Note: The trailhead for this hike is on Roaring Kill Road which, technically, is closed in winter, though it’s not blocked with gates (the way Platte Clove Road is closed between November and April).

What this means is that, after snowfall, the road is not plowed. After light snowfall, if your car has AWD or 4WD, the road is passable. After heavy snowfall, the trailhead may not be accessible by car.

Check the bottom of this post for the exact trailhead location. Your best bet for learning the current status is to get a recent trail conditions report from one of the many excellent online Catskills hiking groups.

From the trailhead, hike into the woods, sign the register, following the short yellow-blazed spur trail to the first junction.

You may see various animal tracks at several points along this route. In February, I saw fresh bobcat, deer and coyote tracks…

coyote track in snow on sugarloaf mountain
Coyote track in Dibbles Quarry

…and this massive fresh bear print…

fresh bear print in snow on sugarloaf mountain
Bear print on Sugarloaf mountain in the Catskills

Check out those claw marks!

Dibbles Quarry

From there, head south/left and uphill toward Dibbles Quarry which lies one mile from the trailhead.

dibbles quarry on sugarloaf mountain
Dibbles Quarry

snowy Mountain View
View from Dibbles Quarry

snow Mountain View
View from Dibbles Quarry

Pass through the quarry, cross the stream, and head uphill through the hemlock stand.

Make your way around the beaver pond up to Pecoy Notch.

Sugarloaf mountain in winter
Sugarloaf mountain seen from the beaver pond

Twin mountain in winter
Twin mountain seen from the beaver pond in winter

Twin Mountain
Twin mountain seen again later in the day

Pecoy Notch

On this hike, I poked around Pecoy Notch a little. So beautiful in there when it snows.

pecoy notch on Sugarloaf mountain in winter
Pecoy Notch

Pecoy Notch on Sugarloaf mountain in winter
Pecoy Notch

From there, follow the Devils Path hiking trail west/right to the summit.

squid tree on Sugarloaf mountain in winter
Squid tree

Sugarloaf mountain in winter
Sugarloaf in winter

Sugarloaf mountain in winter
Sugarloaf in winter

Twin Views

On the way up, turn around to look back at the two summits of Twin Mountain

Twin Mountain
Twin mountain in winter

…and notice these cliffs

Twin Mountain in winter
Cliffs on Twin Mountain

Sugarloaf mountain in winter
Sugarloaf in winter

Sugarloaf Mountain Summit

Sugarloaf has no summit marker but, over my shoulder in this photo, you can see a tree with a distinctive split in its trunk that marks the spot…

hiker at forested summit sugarloaf mountain in the catskills
Sean at the summit of Sugarloaf in February

The Catskills typically have no summit markers. Always leave no trace.

Sugarloaf Overlook

Hike a little way past the summit to find another spur trail to a solid overlook.

sugarloaf mountain
Sugarloaf Mountain lookout

sugarloaf mountain in winter
View from Sugarloaf Mountain lookout

view from sugarloaf mountain in winter
Ticetonyk Mountain seen from Sugarloaf

From there, reverse course and make your way back to the trailhead the way you came.

Similar Hikes

The eastern Devils Path is so much fun.

West Kill is another sizable and crazy-beautiful mountain.

Read More

Read How to Winter Hike: the Essential Roundup.

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The parent mountain for this hike is Sugarloaf.

If you do this hike, LMK how it went…

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Trailhead Info for this Hike

Medium-sized lot on a section of dirt road that is unplowed in winter.

Google Maps Location: 42.151140, -74.130851

The map below shows the exact topographic location of the trailhead

Cell Service

Sketchy at the trailhead, non-existent in spots, some service up high. My network is Verizon. YMMV.