TRIP REPORT: Hunter Mountain – Catskills, NY 10-24-15
Hiking stats at a glance:
Trailhead – Becker Hollow Trail on Rt 214
5.4 miles total
2,219 ft of elevation gain
1 Peak over 3,500 and 4,000 ft – Hunter Mountain 4,046 ft
After completing my multi year journey to become an Adirondack 46er you would think it would be time for a well deserved break and lots of back patting, but unfortunately/fortunately I am a restless spirit and decided to do the next best thing, start working on the next list!
I have spent quite a bit of time in the Catskills over the years but never paid it any serious attention as a hiking destination, but now that I have finished up the 46 High Peaks of the Adirondacks it was time for that to change. I have decided to make joining the Catskill 3,500 Club a priority in addition to my longer term goal of climbing all of the other 4,000 ft peaks of the northeast.
For my first official 3,500 ft peak I decided to go with Hunter Mountain. In addition to having great views and a fire tower, Hunter is over 4,000 ft and counts for both the 3,500Club list and the Northeast 4,000 footer list.
Since I knew the trail to the summit of Hunter was fairly short, at least by Adirondack standards, I chose to hike Hunter from the steepest available option which is the Becker Hollow Trail. We arrived at the trailhead at around noon and after gathering our things hit the trail.
The hike starts off on easy terrain through a wooded low land before crossing the brook and beginning to climb upwards towards the summit. The brook is quite nice and offers a nice place to stop and enjoy the sound of the water before or after your hike.
The fall colors were in full force near the bottom of the trail and the trail was blanketed with leaves which both made the trail quite beautiful and a bit of a pain to hike as there were countless uneven rocks hidden by the leaves. However, it didn’t pose much of a problem so we were still able to make good time.
At this point the trail begins its steady climb upwards at a moderate but steady angle. The trail is easy to follow and in generally good shape so making good time is not too hard as long as the incline doesn’t get to you too much.
The trail does not have very much variation as the Becker Hollow Trail follows a pretty much straight path up the mountain. The only indication that you are making progress is the changing landscape as you work your way up. As you approach the 3,500 ft mark you will see the deciduous forest give way to more and more conifers.
Once you cross the 3,500 ft mark the trail and landscape change pretty substantially. It felt very familiar at the higher elevation as it started to feel more like the Adirondacks and less like what I would expect the Catskills to be like. The trail at this point also becomes much more rocky. The rocks on this section were at times fairly loose so you just had to be careful what you stepped on.
After a little bit more climbing we came to the first trail junction of the day that offered two different ways to the summit. We decided to hang a right on to the yellow marked trail which lead directly to the Fire Tower.
This section of trail was quite pretty and offered some interesting scenery despite its short length at a little more than a quarter of a mile.
After a quick jaunt up the yellow trail we came out onto the ridge directly next to the fire tower and cabin. The summit of Hunter is wooded but the fire tower does offer some pretty great views. The top of the fire tower is locked so you can’t enter the box but you can still get great views from the stairs.
It turned out to be a beautiful day so we spent a little bit of time chatting on the summit before heading back down. We decided to loop back around the trail we bypassed on the way up by going up the yellow trail. A few easy to find trail junctions lead the way back to the Becker Hollow Trail and Rt 204.
This section of trail we had skipped was actually much more steep and direct than the path we had taken on the way up, but it was quite short so we made quick work of it on the way down. After passing the first trail junction we made quick work of the way back down despite having to be careful of slipping on the countless amounts of leaves covering the trail.
In the end Hunter made for a fun introduction to hiking in the Catskills and I am excited to continue my journey to hiking the rest of the peaks on the 3,500 Club list.