Backpack the Eastern Half of Devil's Path in the Catskill Mountains

14 miles 3900 ft gain  - Point-to-Point Trail

Added by Lara Paul

Hike quite possibly the toughest and most dangerous trail on the East Coast. But make it to the summit of 4 peaks and see spectacular views of the Catskills.

The Eastern half of Devil's Path has four major summits: Indian Head, Twin, Sugarloaf and Plateau. Each summit is a straight climb up and down, then back up to as much as 3,900 ft. There are some sparse sections of level ground, but most is a steep descent uphill or steep slide downhill. Your hands will be needed at times to pull yourself up roots and tree branches, to scale protruding rocks and to shimmy yourself through chutes. You will be getting a complete full body workout on this trail; good luck!

Starting from the Eastern side, the trailhead is at Prediger Rd, Elka Park, NY 12427. The trail is marked of course, but make sure to keep an eye out for the markers! Sometimes climbing can be a little overwhelming, to the point where you're watching your hand and foot placement the whole time and not taking note of them. This trail is so embedded in the mountains, that for the most part, the trail is unrecognizable from the rest of the mountain without the markers; everything looks like it could be the trail! We made this mistake once and starting drifting from the path until we realized we had not seen a marker in a while; so keep that in mind when climbing. Always be aware of your surroundings! You do not want to get lost in there.

Climbing up the summits was difficult, but reaching the overlooks and sunbathing with a snack made it worth the trek! The views were beautiful and it was great to see how much we had accomplished. The climb back down gaps between the summits were, as you would imagine, just as steep as the climb up. So watch your footing and lookout for any loose rocks that could slip you up. Also make sure that you're not too hard on your knees and feet, since going downhill is sometimes harder than going up.

Some advanced and highly motivated folk can finish the whole Devil's Path trail (25 miles) in one long and strenuous day. However, many people choose to backpack and camp overnight at Devil's Tombstone. Here you can stop and regain some energy before finishing on with the Western half of the trail.

Devil's Path only has one road crossing throughout the whole 25 mile stretch; NY 214. This is typically used to separate the Eastern and Western halves of the trail. This is also the deciding moment where hikers choose to end their travels, or keep going for the rest of the trail. If your legs are burning but you want to keep moving, be thankful that the Western half is said to be a less difficult trek than the Eastern half you have already accomplished. If you get to this spot and decide to camp, this is where you'll find Devil's Tombstone campgrounds right along this route.

Unfortunately, some of our legs were burning so much from the previous day's Eastern half hike that we decided to end our trek at Devil's Tombstone park. We lit a fire in one of the firepits the next morning and tried to stay warm while the car came to pick us up.

We will definitely be returning to complete the Western half soon!

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Picnic Area


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Overall rating: 

Nothing Could of Prepared Me!

Insanely beautiful hike, but also insanely strenuous. Definitely make sure to bring plenty of water and food! Trekking poles also saved me a few times on the steep descents. The whole hike is relentless up and down, with some short breaks of flat ground on the tops of the peaks. Some amazing views and fun climbs along the way though!

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