At 3880 Feet, Westkill ranks sixth in order of height of the Catskill 3500'ers. The views from Westkill are excellent. To the northeast is a full unobstructed view of the Blackhead range. To the southwest, the central high peaks can be seen including Slide and it's close neighbors Cornell and Wittenberg. To the south is a distant view of the Shawangunks and the Hudson River. The viewpoint, named Buck Ridge Lookout, is a rock outcropping .1 mile east of the summit along the Devils Path. The summit itself is viewless, with a thick cover of Balsam Fir. It is marked by a cairn and a sign.
Westkill is the western most peak traversed by the Devils Path, a 25 mile Catskill classic hike. The trails to Westkill are easy, the easiest of all of the Devils Path summits in fact.
The Blackhead Range from Buck Ridge Lookout.
Trailheads and acess to Westkill
I highly suggest the maps by the New York/New Jersey Trail Conference
. These maps are quite accurate making both trail travel and trailhead locating by road very easy.
For further details on this area & trails, a copy of the Catskill Mountain Guide
by Peter W. Kick, an Appalachian Mountain Club book, would be an excellent resource.
Devils Path western terminus parking area/trailhead:
4.8 Mi. 2030 elev. gain
From this trailhead take the red blazed Devils path to the summit of Westkill. The climb is gradual, class 1 with a very short section of class 2.
The area and trails surrounding Westkill
Diamond Notch Trail northern trailhead:
3.1 Mi. 1730 elev.gain
This parking area can be reached by following the same directions as the Devils Path western terminus except you must pass the Devils Path trailhead and continue to the end of Spruceton Road. From here take the Blue blazed Diamond Notch Trail for .9 Mi. then turn right onto the red blazed Devils Path for 2.2 miles to the summit. this trail too is of no real technical challenge but it does pass Diamond Notch Falls also known as Buttermilk falls. This is a good picnic area.
Diamond Notch Trail southern trailhead:
4.5 Mi. 2380 elev. gain
Directions: from exit 19 of the New York State Thruway (interstate 87), follow signs for Rt 28 west.
once on Rt. 28, travel 22.6 Mi. and turn right onto NY 214 (Main St.)
go 5 Mi. on Main St. and turn left onto Diamond Notch Road
take this road to the end.
: some areas at the end of Diamond Notch Road are rocky and may be difficult for two wheel drive vehicles especially in winter.
To add to the confusion, a private landowner has posted "no parking" signs along the road. According to State and local Police, this is a town road and hikers are legally entitled to park anywhere along it as long as they are not "obstucting movement" of the road. You are not allowed to park off the side of the road on any private land. If possible get to the end of the road whare an unposted lot is on the left and another farther on, which is the designated trailhead parking area.
From here follow the blue blazed Diamond Notch Trail for 2.3 Mi. then
take a left onto the red blazed Devils Path for 2.2 mi. to the summit. This is the most challenging of the approaches to Westkill, but still only class 1 with a very short section of class 2. The trail climbs into the Diamond Notch itself, a wedge type cut in the landscape which is imperessive when viewed from the top of the notch.
Red Tape/backcountry camping
If hiking from the Diamond Notch southern trailhead see the NOTE: area above.
If camping in the wilderness, these regulations are to be followed:
For backcountry camping permits (when neccesary, see below) visit the DEC website
-Pack it in-pack it out
-No more than three succesive nights or more than ten nights per year can be spent in trailside lean-tos.
-A permit must be obtained from the DEC forest rangers if camping more than three succesive nights or in groups of ten or more. No permits will be issued to anyone under the age of 18.
-The DEC may take down & remove any tent or camping structure that is left alone for more than 48 hours
-No camping above 3500' between March 22 and December 20.
-No fires shall be left unattended
-No camping within 150 feet of any road, trail, spring, stream, or other bodies of water except in camping areas designated by the DEC.
-Rangers do Frequent these mountains.
Some images from this area:
Colorful tree growth in the sun on the Devils Path. The view south from Buck Ridge Lookout towards the Shawangunks and the Hudson River Tree growths along the Devils Path The view of the Central High peaks from Buck Ridge Lookout. click on the picture for mountain names. growth on a tree along the Devils Path