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Slide Mountain Wilderness

image showing location of Slide Mountain Wilderness

hikingprimitive campingfishinghuntingtrappingcross-country skiingsnowshoeingwatchable wildlifelean-toparkingicon key

View of the Slide Mountain Wilderness area

The Slide Mountain Wilderness, encompassing more than 47,500 acres, is the largest and most popular wilderness area in the Catskill Forest Preserve. Extensive foot trails provide access to the remote interior, often climbing over lofty peaks with spectacular views. Slide Mountain, the tallest peak in all of the Catskills, inspired poet and naturalist John Burroughs to write; "Here the works of man dwindle, in the heart of the southern Catskills." A plaque commemorating both the man and the mountain graces the face of the summit rock, in tribute to Burroughs and his vision.

Featured Activities

Hiking

hiking

General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations

Trail sign from the intersection of the Giant Ledge- Panther Mountain- Fox Hollow Trail and the Phoenicia East Branch Trail
Photo: Anthony Muccari

All 35 miles of trails in this area are open exclusively to foot travel, affording the visitor an uninterrupted back country experience. Harboring the tallest of the Catskill Peaks and offering numerous trailside vistas, the Slide Mountain trail network is quite attractive and, as a result, is the most heavily visited wilderness trail system in the Catskills. Visitors seeking solitude are less likely to encounter others during mid-week.

Phoenicia East Branch Trail (AKA Woodland Valley-Denning Trail)
(9.8 miles, yellow markers, moderate 2,300 feet elevation gain.)

The Phoenicia East Branch Trail extends from the Woodland Valley Campground to the Oliverea Road North (Giant Ledge Trailhead) Parking Area, then from the Oliverea Road South (Slide Mountain Trailhead) Parking Area to the Denning Road Parking Area. For all but the northernmost mile, the trail follows an old carriage road, making this an easy to moderate hike with steady, moderate ascents. Other than its historical significance as the sole thoroughfare from Phoenicia to Claryville in the days of horse and carriage, its greatest attribute is that it offers the public access to other trails.

The Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide Trail (AKA Burroughs Range Trail)
(9.75 miles, red markers, challenging 3,620 feet elevation gain.)

Accessed either from the Woodland Valley Campground on the east or the Phoenicia East Branch Trail on the west, this trail provides a challenging route through the heart of the Slide Mountain Wilderness, ascending Wittenberg, Cornell and Slide Mountain. The eastern approach is notably more difficult, often requiring the use of one's hands to negotiate several rock ledges. At higher elevations, thick stands of balsam fir channel the hiker upwards, adding an element of surprise to the beautiful panorama that unfolds on the various summits.

Slide Mountain

View from Slide Mountain
Photo: Anthony Muccari

The shortest, most direct route up Slide Mountain is from the Oliverea Road South (Slide Mountain Trailhead) Parking Area. Follow the yellow marked Phoenicia East Branch Trail southwest 0.7 miles to its juncture with the red-marked Burroughs Range Trail. Turn left, heading east 2.0 miles to the summit rock and Burroughs's Plaque. Total distance: 2.7 miles (5.4 miles round-trip). Elevation gain: 1,780 ft.

Curtis-Ormsbee Trail
(1.6 miles, blue markers, moderate 900 feet elevation gain.)

Often referred to as the scenic route up Slide Mountain, the Curtis-Ormsbee trail provides the hiker with three panoramic vistas to the south and west and a moderate "terraced" ridge hike through stunted northern hardwoods. It is named in memory of William Curtis and Allen Ormsbee who originally blazed this route and later lost their lives during a mountaineering expedition in the White Mountains in 1900.

Giant Ledge-Panther Mountain-Fox Hollow Trail
(7.45 miles, blue markers, challenging 2,620 feet elevation gain from Fox Hollow.)

This trail follows along a north-south ridge that offers spectacular views to the north (the Devil's Path) and to the east (Woodland Valley) from both Giant Ledge and the summit of Panther. The ascent from either direction is interspersed with level stretches suggesting a "terracing" effect through mixed hardwoods at lower elevations and ultimately through the scent-laden balsam fir. Popular in part but noticeably less traveled north of Panther Mountain, this section of trail provides the hiker with a sense of solitude. The trail is accessed from the north at the Fox Hollow Road Parking Area and from the south at the Oliverea Road North (Giant Ledge Trailhead) Parking Area.

Giant Ledge
(1.6 miles, 3.2 miles round trip, elevation gain: 1,100 feet.)

The shortest and easiest route up Giant Ledge is from the Oliverea Road North (Giant Ledge Trailhead) Parking Area. Begin by crossing the road and following the yellow marked Phoenicia East Branch Trail east .75 miles until its juncture with the blue marked Giant Ledge-Panther Trail. Turn left, heading north .85 miles to the summit and excellent views to both the east and west.

Terrace Mountain Trail
(0.9 miles, yellow markers, easy 300 feet descent.)

Accessed from the Burroughs Range Trail, the Terrace Mountain Trail is a short and easy hike with a very gradual descent, ending at the Terrace Mountain Lean-to. Bare rock outcroppings and low blueberry bushes best characterize the open "meadows" interspersed along the trail. NOTE: there is no water source at the Terrace Mountain Lean-to.

Buttermilk Falls located near the Peekamoose Parking Area
Buttermilk Falls located near the Peekamoose Parking Area

Mount Pleasant-Romer Mountain Trail
(9.0 miles, blue markers, Elev Gain/Loss: 3,098ft, -1,185ft from Lane Street)

The trail extends from the Burroughs Range Trail to Lane Street outside of the village of Phoenicia. The trail follows the upper edges of Cross Mountain Hollow before traveling over Cross Mountain. At the southern end of Cross Mountain, open rock ledges offer a fantastic vista to the north and the landscape.

From Cross Mountain, the trail descends slightly and then climbs and passes just below the summit of Mount Pleasant. From Mount Pleasant, the trail descends before ascending slightly to the summit of Romer Mountain. After Romer Mountain, the trail makes its way down to Lane Street, just outside the village of Phoenicia.


Peekamoose-Table Mountain Trail
(7.5 miles, blue markers, challenging 2,820 feet elevation gain from Peekamoose Road)

This is a less traveled area that presents a sense of remoteness, complemented by beautiful views at timely intervals. A distinct sense of history is evidenced by the red pine plantation, pioneer species indicating former pasture and stone walls on the southern end, contrasting sharply with the old growth forest in the interior.

Long Path
A section of the NY/NJ Long Path Trail, a nearly 350 mile trail extending from the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, NJ to Altamont, NY, crosses through the Slide Mountain Wilderness Area. This section of the Long Path extends, from south to north, through the Peekamoose-Table Trail, the Phoenicia East Branch, the Curtis Ormsbee Trail, and then over Slide Mountain via the Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide Trail. The Long Path takes advantage of the Catskill's extensive network of trails continuing north out of Slide Mountain Wilderness through parts of the Devil's Path and Escarpment Trail. The Long Path passes through the heart of the Catskill Mountains, bisecting the Preserve through Sundown Wild Forest, Slide Mountain Wilderness, Phoenicia Wild Forest, Indian Head Wilderness, Kaaterskill Wild Forest, Windham Blackhead Range Wilderness, and Elm Ridge Wild Forest.

Camping

primitive camping
Lean-to

General information on backcountry camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations

Lean-to in the Slide Mountain Wilderness

There are 24 designated primitive campsites and 3 lean-tos in the Slide Mountain Wilderness. Primitive campsites are located near:

  • Burroughs Range Trail: between Slide and Cornell (6) and west side of Slide Mountain east of the intersection with the Phoenicia East Branch Trail (1),
  • West Branch Neversink River (2),
  • Peekamoose Table Trail near the East Branch Neversink River (1),
  • Peekamoose Road (1),
  • Traver Hollow (Bradken Road) (3),
  • Giant Ledge Panther Mountain Fox Hollow Trail (2), and
  • The intersection of Phoenicia East Branch Trail and the Giant Ledge Panther Mountain Fox Hollow Trail (1).

The lean-tos are located:

  • On the Giant Ledge Panther Mountain Fox Hollow Trail 0.4 miles from the Fox Hollow Road Parking Area,
  • At the end of the Terrace Mountain trail, and
  • On the Peekamoose Table Trail west of Table Mountain.

Fishing

fishing

General information on fishing includes how-to and safety tips and links to seasons, rules & regulations

The Slide Mountain Wilderness harbors the headwaters of some of the finest fisheries in the Catskills, including the Esopus Creek and the east and west branches of the Neversink River. Good numbers of native brook trout are present in most of the streams in the area and brown trout, rainbow trout, and sculpin are present in most.

Additionally, there are public fishing rights on nearby private land. A pamphlet is available with maps of state lands and public fishing rights that depicts the Public Access for Fishing the Esopus Creek, Woodland Valley Creek, and Stony Clove Creek (PDF 919KB).

Southeastern NY Fishing provides information on fishing in the Catskills and links to top fishing waters, stocking lists, public fishing access and waters open to ice fishing listed by county.

Hunting & Trapping

hunting
trapping

General Information on hunting and general information on trapping includes how-to and safety tips with links to seasons, rules & regulations

Hunting and trapping are traditional uses that are encouraged within the Forest Preserve. This area supports a thriving black bear population and stable white-tail deer population, both of which are hunted in the fall. The eastern wild turkey is hunted in both spring and fall. Furbearers, including beaver, fisher and coyote, are harvested annually. Hunting is prohibited in posted areas, including the Woodland Valley Campground.

Cross-country Skiing & Snowshoeing

cross-country skiing
snowshoeing

General information on cross-country skiing and snowshoeing includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are permitted on all hiking trails.

Watchable Wildlife

watchable wildlife

General information on watchable wildlife includes tips for viewing wildlife and links to other watchable wildlife locations

Slide Mountain is a watchable wildlife site. Wildlife to watch in this wilderness area include white-tailed deer, wild turkey, beaver, and coyote.

The Catskills are home to an abundance of wildlife. With both larger mammals (including deer, bear, and bobcat) as well as smaller mammals (including porcupine and fisher) the Catskills have several unique habitats. In addition to the many mammals found in the Catskills, hundreds of species of birds can also be found in the wilderness.

Peekamoose Waterfall located near the Peekamoose Road Parking Area
Peekamoose Waterfall located near the Peekamoose Road Parking Area

Directions

  • Fox Hollow Road Parking Area is located on Fox Hollow Road, 1.5 miles south of its intersection with NYS Route 28. 42.100838°N, 74.390455°W Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Peekamoose Road Parking Area is located on NYS Route 42, 9.8 miles west of its intersection with NYS Route 28A. Provides access to the Peekamoose Table Trail. 41.915674°N, 74.426352°W Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Oliverea Road South Parking Area (Slide Mountain Parking Area) is located on Oliverea Road, 9.3 miles south of its intersection with NYS Route 28. Provides access to the Burroughs Range Trail and the southern section of the Phoenicia East Branch Trail. 42.007828°N, 74.426876°W Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Oliverea Road North Parking Area is located on Oliverea Road, 13.4 miles south of its intersection with NYS Route 28. Provides access to the Giant Ledge, Panther Mountain, Fox hollow Trail and the northern section of the of the Phoenicia East Branch Trail. 42.026565°N, 74.403866°W Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Denning Road Parking Area is located on Denning Road, 3.5 miles north east of its intersection with New Road. 41.969031°N, 74.448695°W Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Lane Street (Romer Mountain Trailhead) Parking Area is located at the end of the Lane Street, which is off of High Street just outside the village of Phoenicia. 42.078906°N, 74.318400°W Google Maps (leaves DEC website)

Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety

View from Giant Ledge
Photo: Anthony Muccari

Practice Leave No Trace (leaves DEC website) principles when recreating in the Catskills to enjoy the outdoors responsibly; minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts with other backcountry users.

All users of Slide Mountain Wilderness must follow all State Land Use Regulations and should follow all Outdoor Safety Practices for the safety of the user and protection of the resource.

How We Manage Slide Mountain Wilderness

DEC manages these lands in accordance with the management activities described in the Slide Mountain Wilderness Unit Management Plan. In addition to management objectives, the UMP contains detailed information on natural features, recreational infrastructure, geology, natural & human history, habitats, wildlife, fisheries and much more.

If you have questions or would like to obtain a copy this UMP, please email us at r3.ump@dec.ny.gov.

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

DEC Lands and Facilities


Food, gas, and other supplies can be found in the nearby communities of Phoenicia and Boiceville.
Dining opportunities can be found in the nearby communities of Boiceville, Mount Tremper, Phoenicia and Shandaken.
Lodging may be found in the nearby communities of Mount Tremper, Oliverea, Phoenicia, Shandaken.

Catskill Regional Tourism Office (leaves DEC website) and Ulster County Tourism (leaves DEC website) can provide information about other recreation, attractions and amenities in this area.

Numerous guide books and maps are available with information on the lands, waters, trails and other recreational facilities in this area. These can be purchased at most outdoor equipment retailers, bookstores, and on-line booksellers.

Additional information, outdoor equipment, trip suggestions and guided or self-guided tours may be obtained from outdoor guide and outfitting businesses. Check area chambers of commerce, telephone directories or search the internet for listings.

Consider hiring an outdoor guide if you have little experience or woodland skills. See the NYS Outdoor Guides Association (leaves DEC website) for information on outdoor guides.