By far my favorite Catskills hike. I am going again tomorrow with a friend that has NEVER been hiking before but is in good physical shape. My first hike ever was this fourteen mile loop and it was rough but so rewarding so I hope my friend will have a similar experience =)
I found the most difficult part of this climb to be getting to the summit of Wittenberg! Its definitely quite a warm up, having always just hopped out of a car minutes prior. My favorite overlook was Wittenberg as well.
I did this 14 (closer to 15 but who's counting) mile loop earlier this week. It is nice this time of year - I only saw 3 people all day. Left @ 6:30 am & was back in the car by 2:45 pm. However, that involved eating my snacks and lunch on the go. After you are walking up the road past the Slide Mtn Trailhead Parking Lot I HIGHLY recommend you take the unmarked trail that goes to the right directly after you walk past the Winnisook Lake. It will eventually meet up with the yellow trail right by Giant Ledge & will save you about 1600 vertical feet of down & up (& save you from "hiking" on a paved road). There is a sign that says something like "stay on this road because everything else is private property." That is where you have to go right. Have fun!
Started at Woodland valley trailhead, and looped back passing by Giant Ledge, returning to the North end of the Park. Very challenging hike. Lots of big rocks on the trail, or that was the trail! Planned to spend the night, but powered through and finished in just under 10 hours. Feet and knees took the worst of it.
We did the 14-mile loop from Woodland Valley Campground and back over Wittenberg, Cornell and Slide mountains on during an early June heat wave (temps forecast in mid-90's). I would recommend parking a car in the Slide Parking Lot and cutting the loop down because frankly there is little of interest after summitting Slide, unless you extend the hike to Giant's Ledge.
The hike was challenging for a beginner like myself but the views were amazing. Great trail.
Do the loop! definatly a Catskill classic!