Greene County Highpoint Trip Report

Hunter Mountain (4,040 feet)

Date: November 15, 1998
Author: Daniel Case

There are several ways to access this long ridge, the only other 4,000-footer in the Catskill Mountains and home to a popular ski resort. My trip, during my initial round of completing the Catskill 3500 Club summits, was the day before hunting season started in 1998. We went up the relatively easy Spruceton Trail, the route of the old jeep road to the fire tower on the mountain's true summit (nowhere near the ski area, I should add). It was cool and breezy but clear.

To get there, you head east on County Road 6 from NY 42 at the hamlet of West Kill. The trailhead is six and a half miles down the road, on the left. It has a state sign and the trail (also a horse trail) is marked with blue NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation discs. It's about three and a half miles to the summit from here.

From the lot, it is a fairly gentle ascent up the old road to the col between Hunter and the unnamed 3,580' peak known as East Rusk (not a required peak for the 3500 Club, since the col between it and Rusk is too shallow). There are horse hitching posts there and we took a break.

Then the trail gets steeper and rockier until you reach the John Robb lean-to just under 3,500', which is marked with a sign since strict camping and fire regulations are in place above it. Near it there is a spring and a beautiful view over the valley you drove up to get to the trailhead (to see it, go to The third picture in the opening sequence is the one I took that day).

Shortly thereafter the trail from the ski resort joins the trail (We went down there for lunch after we did the summit .. it's a nice side trip). After that, it's pretty gentle until just before the summit (it was meant for trucks, after all). It is not too often in the Catskills that you get to hike level for at least a mile through this sort of boreal forest. There were some iced-over puddles on the road, but it was no problem.

At the summit we met a few people who had climbed up from Becker Hollow, the hardest (but shortest) way up. The three of us climbed the fire tower. Only my brother had the nerve to go all the way up in the stiff wind, but even from the third story you could see most of Greene County and then some ... all the way out into MA and CT, and maybe some of VT.

On the way back we found, near the summit, a yellow side trail leading to a spring at the base of a rock. The water was good and cold and clear, and it was a precious moment. We made it out before dark, and as we saw the men in blaze orange impatiently awaiting the next day we knew it had been a perfect hike.