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Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
1,800.00 ft (548.64 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
5.50 mi (8.85 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Slide Mountain is the focal point of the Slide Mountain Wilderness, and it towers over the region claiming the title as the Catskill's highest peak. Hunter Mountain is the only other peak over 4,000-feet. This mountain has a rounded profile that gently rises from the west and forms a steep and smooth slope to the east. Dogs are allowed, but many sections would prove difficult for those on four legs. This trail has spectacular views across many of the surrounding Catskill peaks and over the Ashokan Reservoir out into the Hudson Valley. The region is very popular with adventurers throughout the year, so visit during the week if you are concerned about encountering too many people. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation has produced a map of this wilderness area to help you navigate your route. Please respect the state land use regulations and follow all outdoor safety practices.

This path begins in a parking area on Frost Valley Road and is the most direct route to the summit. There is a trail registration box attached to the kiosk station along with some maps and information about the area. Begin following the yellow-blazed Phoenicia East Branch Trail. This proceeds with a gradual 400-climb for about three-quarters of a mile to a trail intersection with large signs. Turn left onto the red-blazed Burroughs Range Trail heading east. This path is relatively wide and flat with rock water catchers every so often to reduce trail erosion. This slow and gradual climb will continue for the next 2 miles and climb over 1,100 feet. You will notice the gradual transition from northern hardwoods at the base of the mountain to softwood pines at the higher altitudes. Over 100 years ago these lands were completely covered with old-growth hemlocks that were harvested for their tanin (used in leather production) and then cut for their lumber. 

One last bit of ascent approximately 100-feet up and you will come to a concrete block that is the former foundation of a fire tower and a reminder of these once barren peaks left by the logging companies. New York State wanted to utilize this high peak for fire monitoring in 1911, so a lookout and observer's cabin were built here out of wood. However, it was only occupied for about a year and then abandoned. A steel replacement was constructed during the late 1930s, but it was dismantled around 1965.

Continue another quarter mile to a clearing with a shaved section of conglomerate quartz gravel that almost appears to have been purposefully landscaped. Slide Mountain's peak is the only one in the Catskills with this characteristic, leading to the speculation that it was not covered in the last ice age during the Wisconsin Period. While there are striation marks present, the consensus is that these were formed from a previous ice age many millennia ago during the Illinoian Period. Standing as high as you can, you can see over the treetops across the southern portion of the Slide Mountain Wilderness. Before you leave, take a walk around and down from the large flat area to the wall of the rock outcropping. There is a plaque here commemorating poet and naturalist John Burroughs. He was a regular visitor to this wilderness and spent many nights camping out upon this peak. Burroughs helped get the Catskills added to New York's Forest Preserve, and in one of his best works, "The Heart of the Southern Catskills," he wrote of the view from Slide: "Here the works of man dwindle, in the heart of the southern Catskills."  Return to the parking area on the same path.

Additional Trails

The name “Slide” refers to a landslide that occurred on its northern face near the summit in 1819. The evidence of this original break is still apparent despite a second landslide that occurred in 1982. While maps and resource materials identify the summit at 4,180-feet, the exact elevation has actually never officially been determined by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey.

You can also tackle a stenuous 10-mile trek over the top of Slide that continues down into the valley and then up across Cornell and Wittenberg to the Woodland Valley Campground. Be prepared for some rock climbing and very steep ascents along your way, because the gradual slope from the west is very deceptive to the steep rock faces down to the east! Another slightly more ambitious option is to complete a loop about 16-miles in length that heads north on Oliverea Road to the yellow-blazed Phoenicia East Branch Trail, passes through the Woodland Valley and the campground, and climbs Wittenberg, Cornell, and Slide from the east.

Slide Mountain Wilderness

The Slide Mountain Wilderness is roughly 90 miles north-northwest of Manhattan. It is home to many other prominent peaks including members of the Catskill 3,500-foot Club. Panther Mountain (3,720-feet), Table Mountain (3,847-feet), and Peekamoose Mountain (3,843-feet) are some of the more popular trailed mountains. Meanwhile, Friday Mountain (3,694-feet), Balsam Cap (3,623-feet), Rocky Mountain (3,508-feet), and Lone Mountain (3,721-feet) also meet this threshold, but they require extensive bushwhacking. While some of these routes include spectacular views and features like Giant Ledge on the Fox Hollow Trail, others are covered with deciduous forest and fir trees and therefore only offer a feeling of accomplishment upon reaching their respective summits.

Streams throughout this wilderness boast a presence of brown trout, rainbow trout, and sculpin. Fishing is permitted in accordance with public fishing rights: Please refer to the rules and regulations as well as map pamphlets, and adhere to the inclusive safety tips and seasons. Hunting and trapping are also permitted and encouraged within the Forest Preserve. There is a thriving black bear population and stable white-tail deer population, both of which are hunted in the fall. The eastern wild turkey is also prevalent and hunted in both spring and fall. In addition, fur-bearers, including beaver, fisher and coyote, are harvested annually. The DEC continues to monitor and regulate these lands in accordance with the Slide Mountain Wilderness Unit Management Plan (UMP).

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Gradual and easy path.

Cons

Views have some obstructed tree cover.

Trailhead Elevation

2,430.00 ft (740.66 m)

Highest point

4,180.00 ft (1,274.06 m)

Net Elevation Gain

1,750.00 ft (533.40 m)

Features

Backcountry camping
Bird watching
Wildlife
Big vistas
Old-growth forest

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

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