Kaaterskill High Peak summit block
Kaaterskill High Peak is one of the more famous mountains of the Catskill Range
in NY, and easily one of it's most recognizable. At one point it was thought to be the highest mountain in the Catskills. Wait, how could they overlook Hunter and Slide, two four thousand footers?! Well, Slide was thought to be in another range, and people liked having Kaaterskill as their "High Peak", but all that is another story.
Perhaps one of the reasons people then and now like Kaaterskill High Peak is because the painter Thomas Cole, of the Hudson River School, liked it. He made the mountain subject of some of his paintings. Perhaps the reason he liked it was because it, along with it's neighbor Round Top, stands apart from the rest of the mountains in the range. To the south and north two deep gaps, Platte Clove and Kaaterskill Clove, rise steeply from the valley floor of the Hudson River, keeping Kaaterskill isolated. The mountain can be easily spotted from so many popular hiking destinations, that it's a symbol perhaps of the Catskills to some.
Kaaterskill High Peak among other Catskill peaks
The mountain has many interesting things about it that make it a good hiking destination. Perhaps the first reason people will go to the mountain is because of it's elevation. At 3655 ft. it is in the list of the Catskill 3500 club, which is a popular goal that many people pursue consisting of the 35 peaks that rise above 3500 ft. in the Catskills. Though it only ranks 22nd on the list by elevation, it actually ranks an impressive 4th in prominence. It could be one of the steepest climbs in the Catskills, depending on which way you go to the top.
There are two ways to approach the mountain, one is from the south by way of Platte Clove Road, and the other is from the north by Palenville, slightly off Route 23A. Both approach the mountain by way of the Long Path, which leads to the snowmobile trail that circles the mountain! From the snowmobile trail there is a herd path, that was formerly part of an old trail called Twilight Park, that runs north and south over the summit. The southern approach on the Long Trail is shorter and faster (about 7 miles round trip), but the northern approach passes several waterfalls, and is regarded as the more "scenic" route, but it is longer (about 10.5 miles roundtrip). Take note also that the northern approach has an almost 3000 ft. gain in elevation, the most in the Catskills.
Another interesting thing about the mountain is that there are two airplane crash sites. One is visible from the snowmobile trail, while the other is located off trail on the cliffs, not so easily found. Between Kaaterskill High Peak and Round Top there is the remains of an old fort. There are no trails to Round Top, but it still has visitors.
The northern approach has a side trip off the Long Trail called Poet's Ledge, which drops down to some fine views, so perhaps it's best to see it on the way out. The southern approach also has a side trip off the Long Path called Huckleberry Point, which is a popular destination by itself. There is a viewpoint not far from the summit of Kaaterskill High Peak as well, called Hurricane Ledge. The summit of Kaaterskill High Peak has no views, and is in a grassy clearing, but it does have a USGS marker, which is a rarity for Catskill mountains.
For the southern approach you want the trailhead off Platte Clove Road (CR 16) which can be reached from NY 23A in Tannersville all year round. Platte Clove Road can also be reached from Saugerties by way of Rt 212 (Exit 20 off I-87) to CR 35 which becomes CR 33 which becomes CR 16 (Platte Clove Road). This road is closed in the winter (November 1st to April 15th) because it is very steep and narrow. The trailhead is located a short ways after some warning signs about Platte Clove Road, not that far from the Devil's Path trailhead off Prediger Road.
For the northern approach you want the trailhead on Malden Avenue which is off Route 23A by Palenville. Palenville can be reached also from Exit 20 off I-87. You would take NY-32 to NY-32A to NY-23A to Malden Avenue.
No red tape to deal with. Park your car, and go hike.
Kaaterskill High Peak is pretty much isolated from the other peaks. There isn't any lean-tos near the mountain. The closest one I could find on the map is on the Overlook trail, off the Devil's Path. The closet campground would be the one at North-South Lake. (There are probably fees to camp there.) In general there is no camping above 3500 ft. from March 21st to December 21st in the Catskills.
The guidebook I use for the Catskills is : Catskill Mountain Guide
Two useful sites for Catskill hiking are: Catskill-3500 Club
For weather info I usually head to: Weather Underground
Two good mountain clubs in the Northeast which have some outings to the Catskills are: Appalachian Mountain Club
Adirondack Mountain Club
A surprisingly very good source about Kaaterskill High Peak that has a lot of historical information not included on this page is: Wikipedia
Page author's notes
I have climbed this mountain from the southern approach. I didn't get a chance to see Hurricane Ledge, or Huckleberry Point, and would like to see some pictures from there. If you have some, post some.
After doing the research I would like to see the northern approach to this mountain. Again if anyone has any pictures from that side of the mountain, please add them to this page.
I feel that both approaches should have route pages here on SP. I didn't go into detail on the specific routes for this reason.
I don't how the snowmobile trail works, and what it's regulations are. Be aware that they may be there in the winter. Perhaps it's best to contact the DEC
for snowmobile info.
I had more photos, but for whatever reason they don't seem to load right. Enjoy the ones I got uploaded right.