In the Catskill Range many of the higher peaks have very limited or no views at all. Panther and Giant Ledge do not fall into that category. Both of these mountains have fantastic views, especially for the Catskills. Panther is one of the peaks on the Catskill 3500 list, a peakbagging list and club that many people pursue consisting of the 35 peaks that rise above 3500 ft. in the Catskills. The quickest way to Panther is over Giant Ledge so I have included it on this page which was to be for Panther. I would say the vast majority of people who climb Panther go over Giant Ledge, although it can be approached from the other side. However many people just hike to Giant Ledge, and don't go on to Panther.
Giant Ledge is a short hike that has big rewards as far as views go. There are numerous viewpoints slightly off the trail. The finest one is probably the first one you'll encounter. Wittenberg, Cornell, and a portion of Slide are boldly in front of you. In the distance, you get to see a great view of the Indian Head Wilderness and the peaks along the famed Devils Path.
The hike to Giant Ledge is very popular. It is under 2 miles one way, and is not that difficult. People of all ages and ability are able to do this hike. Many people come here and have no intention of going on to Panther, although it is under 2 miles away.
Panther does rise steeply from the col between it and Giant Ledge. It has basically the same view as Giant Ledge, just a bit different though. From Panther you can see far more to the west and north, but the view towards the Slide area gets blocked. It is definitely a more challenging hike than just going to Giant Ledge, and there are some great spots in the forest that will be missed if you're just going to Giant Ledge.
The way to get to both of these mountains is to travel on the Giant Ledge-Panther-Fox Hollow trail. The way to get to that trail is to travel a bit first on the Phoenicia-East Branch trail from CR-47. It is also possible to hike in from Fox Hollow to just do Panther, or to do both, though it is longer if you choose to do that route.
In order to be a member of the Catskill 3500 club Panther must also be climbed again during winter (December 21st to March 21st).
The latitude/longitude for Giant Ledge is 42.040177/ -74.395418 with an elevation of 3250 ft.
The trailhead and parking for the Phoenicia-East Branch trail which you travel on for less than a mile before it intersects the Giant Ledge-Panther- Fox Hollow trail is located on CR-47 about 7 miles south of NY 28 which can be reached from I-87 by taking Exit 19.
There is a lean-to a bit off the trail in Fox Hollow. If you continue on the Phoenicia-East Branch trail it leads you to the Woodland Valley Campground where you can stay for a fee. A very popular thing though is to camp on Giant Ledge because it is under 3500 ft. and it is legal to camp under 3500 ft. in NY as long as you are not within 150 ft of the trail.
There is no fee to park at the trailhead on CR-47.
I like to recommend Catskill Mountain Guide to use as a guidebook for the Catskills.
For weather information I use: NOAA
These websites are helpful: Catskill-3500 Club