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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Indian Head Mountain(Catskills)

 Took advantage of a beautiful Sunday afternoon and headed down to the Catskills to hike 3573 foot Indian Head Mountain, part of the vaunted Devils Path.  As we arrived at the Prediger Road trailhead, the lot was overflowing due to the gorgeous Columbus Day weather and had to fit the car into a tight spot.
 We excitedly started into the woods about .25 mile to a trail junction.  We took a right onto the Jimmy Dolan Notch Trail which leads up about 1000 vertical feet to the Devils Path.
Soon after leaving the trail junction you cross a dried up creek bed.

Many leaves litter the trail as you ascend.
A large tree blocking this section of trail.  There were a couple areas of blowdown today.
The last section of the Jimmy Dolan Notch Trail is a bit steeper and made me break a bit of a sweat.
Peak foliage in the Catskills.
Brilliant fall sunshine.
Roots and rocks as the trail continues its climb.
Rocky ascent.
More rocks and fallen leaves.
Shortly before arriving at the Devils Path and at an elevation of about 3000 feet, there are some screened views to the north and west.  The fall colors really stand out.

Just after arriving at the Devils Path, you have a couple of trail options.  Turning right climbs steeply up Twin Mountain, but we turned left to climb the last 500 feet to Indian Head's summit.  Almost immediately there are views back west to Twin Mountain and beyond.
This section of trail was not overly steep, but still climbing.
Indian Head's summit is not marked and there are no views, but you will arrive there after about 2.3 miles of hiking.  There are many evergreens along the summit area.
This view is located very close to Indian Head's summit.  It is the only view from this level area of the mountain and located about .1 of a mile past the summit.
Walking through a sea of evergreens near the summit.  This area was noticeably cooler.
Evergreens and blowdowns mark the summit walk, which stays somewhat level for a distance.
A look to the north where the evergreens crowd the open walk.

A phenomenal view found along the trail offers a sweeping view to the south and east towards the Hudson River.  Plattekill Mountain to the left and Overlook Mountain is to the right.
Overlook Mountain.
Vertical drops of several hundred feet are encountered only steps from the trail.
The "Cork Screw Chimney" is a very challenging section of trail, which we encountered on the way down the mountain.  If you approach the mountain clockwise then this area needs to be climbed, and can be very difficult.
The red marked Devils Path signs are always easy to find.
Descending down another steep section of trail.
After about 2.8 miles of hiking, you arrive at a gorgeous rock ledge known as "Sherman's Outlook". 
A shoulder of Plattekill Mountain is right before your eyes ahead.
This has got to be one of the great views in the Catskills, especially with the foliage at peak.
A look to the north and east provides a glimpse of Plattekill Clove and Huckleberry Point.
We stopped and ate lunch here, soaking in the sun and views.
Kalli and I enjoying the day.
Just after leaving the rock ledge, the trail drops very steeply.
Another look at the descent below Sherman's Outlook.
The rocky prominence known as Sherman's Outlook.
Come on down Kalli. 
I stopped for a moment just off trail to show how big the rocks are that surround you.
A nearly vertical section of the Devils Path.  This is exactly what the trail is infamous for.  We happen to love these sections.
It can be challenging climbing these parts, although today we were descending.  Wet periods can make this climb downright dangerous.
Kalli and I stopping at another sweet lookout.

A small glimpse of Ashokan Reservoir in the distance, with tiny Echo Lake tucked into the many peaks.
Evergreens everywhere.
Incredible views that make all the work you do climbing the mountain worth it.  Rolling peaks bathed in fall color all around you.
A look way down to Platte Clove Community, with Kaaterskill High Peak rises directly above it.
A last great look from the mountain to the north and east  over Platte Clove all the way to the Hudson River and beyond.
Rock cairns on the descent.
The sun slowly setting as we sunk into the shadow of the mountain.
Fleeting sun through the trees.
A level section where stone steps have placed, now being crowded by fallen leaves.
A VERY nice fall day in the Catskills.  Doesn't get much better than this folks.  Hiked about 6.25 miles with nearly 1600 feet elevation gain to the summit and then back down.  A great day to be out and about.

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