You cannot get any higher in the Catskill Mountains than Slide Mountain.
A little back ground information: Slide mountain is the tallest mountain in all of the Catskill Park, and is known to have been the mountain top hang out for the infamous John Burroughs. He bushwhacked to this summit from the depths of Woodland Valley, made camp under the large summit rock, and wrote numerous essays depicting the beauty of Slide Mountain Wilderness Area. The summit used to host an observers tower, but now only a foundation step can be found. A large flat rock holds a plaque honoring John Burroughs, near an overhang that he used to spend overnight trips in.
We have hiked Slide a number of times. All from the trailhead on Rt. 42. This approach begins with a stream crossing that can be dicey in high water or icy conditions. The eroded trail then leads you to an old woods road, and the Curtis Ormsbee Trail that you can take all the way to the Neversink and the Denning Road parking area. (A western approach to Table Mountain, as well as your jump off PA for Lone and Rocky Mountains bushwhacks.)
Our first ascent of Slide was June 7 , 2014. We had just started hiking, with a handful of NH and NY Firetowers under our belt. This hike may have been the catalyst that has put 1000+ miles on our feet and almost 100 summits on our tally sheet! The easy grade hike up to the semi – clear summit was just the inspiration we needed!
Slide is one of the 4 required winter hikes you must complete to become a 35er. We re-summited on January 2 2106 to achieve the W. This trip allowed us a chance to use our new Hillsound trail crampons that we had received for the holidays. GAME CHANGER. If you havn’t invested in a good form of traction device, look no further. Pussy footing around ice patches is a thing of the past with micro spikes and crampons.
We once more headed to the summit of Slide Mountain on September 11, 2016 with the plans to descend the east side, and get a feel for the col and possible bushwhack to Friday and Balsam Cap from here. We did not know much about this section of trail, but quickly learned it would be one of our favorites. Ladders and steep rock drop offs, as well as stunning Devils Path views adorn this side of the mountain. The steep descent drops you about 1000′ in .7 miles to the col between Slide and Cornell.
This col features a spring and amazing primitive camping sites. You can continue on the red blazed trail to the summit of Cornell, adding another 650’+ in gain to your hike, but the view back to slide from this approach are totally worth it! On this trip, we decided to feel out the woods that head south off this col. This is one way you can head towards what I like to call the “dreaded 4”. We hit the woods a bit too high and ended up whacking around the summit of Cornell, finding a pretty cool rock outcropping that opened up a great view to the south and west, showcasing Friday, Balsam Cap, Lone, Rocky (the 4) Table and Peekamoose.
While we have enjoyed hiking all the peaks, the approach to each one has become the real fun. As we work on “red lining” the Catskill Park, which means to hike all the marked trails, we will need to hike the Curtis-Ormsbee Trail!
SPECS: Slide Mountain
Summit Elevation: 4180′
Trail: Yellow Trail thru the Winnisook Club Property meeting with the Red blazed Burroughs Range Trail.(2.75 miles one way) Option to connect with the Curtis-Ormsbee Trail. (add 1 mile to loop)
Gain: 1700′ from Rt 42 PA
Summit Perk: Stunning views to the North from look out just shy of the summit. John Burroughs Plaque. Best hiking off the Devil’s Path on the descent to Cornell.
Best summit sandwich: Quick snacks are all you need for the short but sweet hike.
Post Hike Libation: Phoenicia Diner if you hit it right (AKA pick an off weekend when the weekenders aren’t so plentiful)