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Hike Sugarloaf & Twin from Roaring Kill

An epic double-bill that includes the king of the Catskills (Sugarloaf) and what might be the toughest section of trail in the park (on Twin). Includes two excellent views.

Hike Length: 7.5 miles (12.07 km)

Total Ascent: 2,612ft (796m)

Intensity: Difficult Hike

Route Type: T-Shaped

Includes: Blazed Trail, Stream Crossing

Parent Sugarloaf

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

Behind the Cave on Twin

Fun section of trail on Twin Mountain

 A straight run up to both summits. Includes two fantayi views.

Hiking Trail Description

Any hike that includes Twin Mountain is a great hike. From either side, Twin offers some the funnest ascents in the Catskill Park. The eastern side is tough, with wonderful giant boulders to climb over and classic Devil’s Path terrain that leads up to one of the great ledge views in the Park.

But the western side of Twin, with its steep talus field and a section of technical open rock face, is perhaps the toughest 0.7 mile you’ll spend on any Catskill trail.

The first part of this hike follows the Sugarloaf clockwise loop hike I did in May 2019—from the Roaring Kill parking area, you’ll make your way to Dibble’s Quarry, across the stream, around the beaver pond, and up to the col between Sugarloaf and Twin.

Pecoy Notch

Pecoy Notch has a small flat open area around the signposts that’s a good spot for a break and a nibble before you start climbing for real.

When I started mountain hiking in the Catskills about a year ago, the hike up to Pecoy Notch felt like a major achievement in itself. Now, after a year in the hills, it feels like a pleasant walk. The difference is really striking.

Signposts in Pecoy Notch, Catskills
Signposts to Twin and Sugarloaf in Pecoy Notch
Red Blaze on the Devil’s Path
Red blazes on the Devil’s Path signify you’re in for it

Unlike the obvious choice of climbing the far more difficult Friday Mountain before tackling the easy/breezy Balsam Cap, there’s no clear first choice between Sugarloaf and Twin. Both mountains are tough ascents. Sugarloaf is long and hard. Twin is shorter but trickier. The west side of Twin is one of the few places in the Catskills where, for me, it feels potentially dangerous.

I tackled Sugarloaf first. My notes from the May hike will get you there. The hike up took about an hour. Once you’ve visited the terrific ledge past the summit, return to Pecoy Notch. The descent took me about about 45 minutes.

Climbing Twin’s Western Side

Classic Devil’s Path
Classic Devil’s Path rock scramble

There are so many great sections on the trail up Twin: a steep, extended and challenging rock scramble; massive erratic boulders to work around, over and between; a controversial rock face that recently been re-routed around; a small cave; a narrow rock passage; and a rewarding ledge view. The terrified faces of unprepared hikers descending the mountain only add to the day’s joy.

Twin’s Second Summit

If you have time—on this day, I didn’t—the hike to the Twin’s second, lower summit is even more rewarding. The ledge there is enormous and provides one of the two great panoramic views in the Catskills Park. (The other is on Wittenberg.) The hike takes about 20 minutes and you’ll want to stay for a while to enjoy the incredible view, so it’ll add around an hour to your total hike time.

Note: at the ledge on Twin’s main summit, when you turn around to leave, there are two paths out and it’s easy to get confused. The path back down to Pecoy Notch is to your right. If you want to go to the amazing ledge view, take the path to your left that leads into the woods. The trail descends to the col between Twin’s twin peaks, and then rises again, but the going is easy both ways.

One of my absolute favorite Catskill hikes is when I combine Indian Head & Twin for a one-car hike. Adding a second car allows you to add Sugarloaf and maybe even Plateau to cover the entire eastern half of the Devil’s Path.

Trailhead Info for this Hike

Address: 149 Roaring Kill Road, Elka Park, NY
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.

Cell Service

Very low signal at the trailhead, and no signal for many patches until you get up high. I was able to text from both summits but, on both, the signal was weak. This whole area is a low service area. My network is Verizon. YMMV.

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