Hunter Mountain is the second highest peak in the Catskills (our fourth of the 35 over 3500’!), it has a fire tower on the summit, and is a popular ski resort.
There are multiple ways to approach this hike, but we took the steepest and shortest route to the top from the Becker Hollow Trailhead [On State Road 214 and intersection of Stony Clove Notch, Hunter NY].
The hike is moderately strenuous, and only gets steeper as you keep climbing. You will gain over 2,200 feet of elevation during the 2.73 mile trail to the summit, and head back down the way you came rounding this hike out to just under five and a half miles. So walk between the stone pillars and begin your hike on the blue blazed trail. Initially the hike is very flat, a pleasant stroll in the woods beside a creek.
On a warm early spring day we were treated to a lovely assortment of wildflowers including emerging blue cohosh, violets, and spring beauty.
Keep hiking and after you pass an old dam things will start heating up, and won’t quit. You’ll reach the sign that tells you you’re at 3,500’ and if you’re any good at math you can figure out how much sweat you will accrue to get to the summit which is 4,040’.
From here the trail becomes more sheer and narrow,
and you are rewarded with your first views.
The month of April in the mountains of New York can be a bit confusing. At the base I was hot in a t-shirt and nearly left my sweater in the car. I would have been pretty sorry had I made that mistake, because we hit a serious patch of snow and ice, and I was freezing at the top!
Scrambling around on sheets of ice for the last time of the season was a bit of pain, but soon enough we saw the trail junction telling us we were just about there! A right to the fire tower on the yellow trail for .35 was quite manageable, and elevation gain at this point was minimal. Appearing above the tree line was the tower, and we braved the biting wind with the promise of pristine Catskill views.
Worth it. Be sure to note which trail you entered on, there are quite a few that lead to the summit, so on your way down head back the way you came. It was a beautiful hike and since it was short, we still had quite a bit of energy to explore more of the Catskill region!