Thru-Hike North Dome & Mount Sherrill

This intense bushwhack route over two of the most difficult Catskills mountains is challenging and rewarding in equal measure: an epic climb, a great scenic ledge, a rock chasm, and something more…

Hike Length: 6.5 miles (10.46 km)

Total Ascent: 2,500ft (762m)

Intensity: Hardest Catskills Hike

Route Type: Shuttle

Includes: Blazed Trail, Unmarked Trail, Herd Path, Easy Bushwhack, True Bushwhack, Stream Crossing

Parent North Dome

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icicles hanging from rock wall

Ice-wall on North Dome

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 This thru-hike route is short on the miles but long on the legs. Requires a car shuttle.

Hiking Trail Description

This thru-hike route over North Dome and Mount Sherrill can be done in either direction. Short on miles but long on legs, my friends and I really felt this epic hike.

This is one of the most difficult Catskills hikes. The route is 75% bushwhack and includes a very tough climb up North Dome’s notorious eastern ledges.

If you’re new to mountain hiking, this is a hike you should leave until you have gained solid bushwhacking experience. Apart from the sheer effort required, it’s easy to veer into dense evergreen forest on the west side of North Dome’s summit and get turned around. Map and compass skills are a must for this hike. Do not rely on your phone, here.

At 6.5 miles, this hike may not sound like much but, I swear, by the time you’re done, you’ll feel like you just hiked 10 rough miles.

Devil’s Path Terminus Trailhead & Parking

The trailhead for this route is the western terminus of the Devil’s Path on Spruceton Road. The lot there is small and fills up quickly.

There is some space for roadside parking on the opposite side of the road.

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North Dome & Mount Sherrill Bushwhack Route

After a short climb to the trail register (please sign it), continue uphill a short distance. The trail levels out and becomes an easy, level hike through a field of wonderful glacial erratics.

glacial erratics covered in snow
Devil’s Path / Spruceton

The trail follows Mink Hollow brook which begins in the col between North Dome and St. Anne’s Peak.

This first trail section is really lovely. It extends 1.55 miles from the trailhead to the first junction. However, for this hike, we left the trail after about a mile and crossed to the far side of Mink Hollow…

brook crossing in Mink Hollow
Mink Hollow

Confusingly, this is one of two Mink Hollows in the Catskills. Even more confusingly, both Mink Hollows are on the Devil’s Path; the other the Mink Hollow lies between Sugarloaf and Plateau.

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After a short climb, we came to this amazing icicle wall about 500 feet off-trail…

icicles hanging from rock wall
Ice-wall on North Dome

The base of the icicle-wall was a carpet of ice-balls…

carpet of ice-balls
Ice-balls like these form in flowing, frigid water
ice-balls as the base of icicles
Ice-balls

Climbing North Dome

There’s still plenty of ice and snow in the Catskills in April. The night before, a fresh dusting of snow had fallen over the hills. Everything looked amazing.

It’s important to carry microspikes in the Catskills until as late as June.

Down low, North Dome’s ledges aren’t too bad. As you climb, they become increasingly rugged and steep. Depending on the route you take, you will deal with 5, 6, 7, 8 distinct ledges.

rugged terrain dusted with snow
Dusting of snow on North Dome’s infamous ledges

If you come to a tricky spot and can’t see a clear way forward, my trick here is to turn right, mostly, and head north; the terrain to the left / south is increasingly steep.

hiker in dramatic rock chute
Rock chute on North Dome

There’s a good scenic view on this side of North Dome at around 3400’. On this day, we skipped it, deciding to save our energy for later in the hike; this was a good call.

One you get past the final ledge, the pleasant walk across North Dome’s enormous ridge feels lovely and easy.

In last of the winter snow, we followed a track that meandered pleasantly, until we came to the 3500 Canister.

orange canister affixed to tree trunk
North Dome’s Catskill 3500 Canister

Bushwhack North Dome to Mount Sherrill

For the most part, the herd path heading down North Dome toward Mount Sherrill is pretty easy to follow.

snow in woods
North Dome, last of the winter snow

North Dome is a big mountain. The descent from the summit down its west slope to the col took us about an hour.

At 3100’, we passed through a sweet rock chasm and under this Balanced Rock

balanced rock in winter
Balanced Rock

Another 100’ descent brings you to 3000’ in the middle of the col.

Climbing Mount Sherrill

From the col, the elevation gain to the upper ridge of Mount Sherrill looks like a lot, but it’s only about 500’ and it doesn’t take as long as you think it will. And it’s not as tricky as the climb up North Dome, though it definitely requires attention at several points.

On the way, there are rocky outcroppings and dozens of gloriously crazy-looking birch trees

bare birch tree
Glorious bare birch tree

We also found a small cave on this route. Bushwhacks are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.

Mount Sherrill Scenic View

Just below 3500’, make your way southwest until you come to a pair of open ledges with great views.

The main ledge gives a view across Panther Mountain to Slide Mountain and the Burroughs Range, all about 12 miles distant.

mountain ranges in distance
Scenic view from Mount Sherrill

Mount Sherrill Summit

From the ledge, the hike northwest to Mount Sherrill’s summit is easy and only takes 10 or 12 minutes.

orange 3500 canister
Mount Sherrill 3500 Canister

Mount Sherrill is named for Eliakim Sherrill, a tanner in the Shandaken area during the mid-nineteenth century — which is a ludicrously bland description, considering the man’s personal history. You can read more about him on the main Mount Sherrill page.

Right at the summit we found two sets of fresh bear prints: one large, one small…

hiker‘s hand beside large bear prints in snow
Momma bear prints

small bear prints in snow
Baby bear prints

Being so fresh, and being a mother/child pair, these were slightly concerning, especially as they led down the same ridge we’d planned to use for our descent. Had I been on my own, I probably would have altered course.

Mount Sherrill Descent to Shaft Road

With our car shuttle parked on Shaft Road, we planned to descend from Mount Sherrill via its long western ridge.

But there was also a thing we wanted to see on Sherrill’s southern ridge and so, based on my research, just above 3200’ we took a half hour detour (not shown on the attached GPS track) to visit the thing. Definitely worth it. When we got back to the western ridge, we continued down.

This part of the hike felt interminable. We were tired and it just went on and on. I would allow up to two hours to descend this ridge.

For this descent, I really should have set a bearing on my compass. Instead, I got sloppy and used my phone. But I hate to check my phone. So we quickly got off course.

The terrain, here, anywhere off the main ridge, is steep and a pain to hike. Stay on the middle of the ridge. Or don’t. AllTrails shows a social route that uses the brook drainage. (Hike your own hike!)

At least there were a few nice hemlock stands to walk through…

hemlock trees
Hemlock woods

Eventually, we popped onto a pretty old woods road and used that for the final section of our descent.

Shaft Road

The hike begins to end here, down low at this old stone wall on a brook.

stone wall by brook
Brook crossing, stone wall

The crossing here was little tricky but we all found our own spots.

From the far side of the brook, the large parking area on Shaft Road is just another five minutes or so.

Be careful to stay inside the very narrow strip of public land until you connect with another old woods road which will lead you back to the lot.

Similar Hikes

For more difficult Catskill bushwhack hikes that include two summits and a col try Rocky & Lone and Van Wyck & Table.

The parent mountain for this hike is North Dome.

If you do this hike, let me know how it went in the comments below. Your feedback makes this site better.

Trailhead Info for this Hike

Small busy lot that serves several mountains. Arrive early on busy days.

Google Maps Location: 42.192207, -74.324005

The map below shows the exact topographic location of the trailhead

Cell Service

Do not count on cell service on this route. You may get signal up high, but do not count on it. My network is Verizon. YMMV.

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