Kaaterskill High and Windham-Blackhead Range, seen from Indian Head

Indian Head and Twin Mountains – 10/17/12


This was a wholly straightforward loop hike, part of Devil’s Path, accurately described on the NYNJTC’s website:


Except for a few large tree trunks downed across the trail, the trails were in condition and well-maintained. From the trailhead at Platte Cove Road, I hiked to Indian Head and Twin Mountains, returning via Jimmy Dolan Notch (JDN) trail. (Just as in the NYNJTC link, but I added on Twin Mountain.) My hike was 10.35 miles with 2600 feet of elevation gain, which I did in 8.5 hours.

Platte Cove Road is a fun road, going up steeply with lots of twists and turns but few guard rails. Unsurprisingly, it’s closed in winter; maybe it should be closed in summer too. I parked at the Platte Cove Road trailhead, on the north side of the road. Needlessly signed in here; this register is for hikers headed to Kaaterskill High Peak. Those headed for Devil’s Path, like me, sign in after the roadwalk, just before the kingpost bridge.

As usual for me, the first mile of the hike was terribly slow: admiring the kingpost bridge, checking some tree signs in Platte Cove Preserve, de-layering, making a necessary stop 150 feet from the trail, adjusting my pack & boots, etc..

Admired the views of the Hutterite Platte Cove community and Kaaterskill High Point from Sherman’s Lookout. Then on to Indian Head summit, where I took my lunch.

There were some very steep sections before the summit, and I had to help Halle up a few spots. There were 30-40 yard stretches of steep, precarious going – not terribly difficult to lift the dog up. But once I got on top, I began to ponder my return descent with some trepidation. “How am I going to do that?” I pondered. Later, down in Jimmy Dolan Notch, the obvious answer hit me in the face, “Go back the easy way; take the JDN trail and make a loop out of it!”

Twin Mountain was a much easier ascent, and I was soon on the first (lower) summit), and then quickly across a slight dip to the higher (northern) peak.

Looking back, across the north side of Indian Head, there was a mountain way off to the northeast. Here is a heavily GIMPed photo: Mount Greylock? Applying the formula, “the square root of the height in feet, times 1.32 equals the distance to the horizon in miles,” I estimated that the mountain was 130 miles away. Yep, that’s the approximate distance to Mount Greylock.

I wanted to see the cave noted on the map, and descended several dozen yards, taking a photo of the only cave-like overhang I saw, at 2:10. Check the photo. Is this the actual cave? If so, they should change the word “Cave” on the map to “Slight and Unimpressive Modest Overhang.” Maybe I the real thing was a little farther down.

The return was a breeze, with only one stop. Just starting down the JDN trail, my feet were bothering me a little, with a couple “hot spots” getting started in my new boots. So I sat down, took off my boots and socks, rubbed my feet a bit, put on some foot powder, and even put a blister patch on the ball of my left foot. There were no blisters yet, just me being self-indulgent; but it must have taken 15-20 minutes.

Back down, close to the Prediger Road trailhead, I encountered a nice young couple and asked them to take my picture. The women was pleased to do so, and accepted my P&S camera expertly. She took one photo, looked at it, and clearly wasn’t satisfied. She zoomed it in a bit, and took a second one, which was much better. Nice to encounter someone who knows what they’re doing.

Don’t miss the kingpost bridge near the road. It’s a hand-hewn replica, built in 2001 by volunteers, and (IIRC) is the only in the Catskills,


By 5:45 I was back in the parking lot, and sent the “Done hiking, back at trailhead” Spot Messenger message to my wife, and began the 2-hour drive home. Catskills peaks #11 and 12 for me.