Hiking the Catskill High Peaks: Wittenberg and Cornell

Thirty five peaks above 3,500’ in the Catskills are on many hikers bucketlists, to become Catskill 35ers and conquer the highest mountains in the region. Bagging Wittenberg and Cornell Mountains [GoogleMaps location: Woodland Valley Campground] can be done in a strenuous out and back 9 mile hike gaining +2,500’. During the high season you have to pay to park in the DEC lot – but an unseasonably warm 70 degree day in October there was no one there collecting.From the lot cross the road into the campground and find the trail.

Cross the bridge into the woods to find the register box of the trailhead.

One of the great things about this hike is it’s very relaxed navigationally. One trail the whole way – the red trail, and just one junction that is very well marked. So keep your eyes peeled for those red blazes and you’ll be gold. Start ascending right away, but another thing I loved about this hike is it gives some reprieve. It will level out and you can always catch your breath. After hiking what felt like forever, I was so thankful to see some sign of how much longer I had to go!

The trek really picks up pace with a steep incline closer to the summit and some rocky scrambling crops up.

Once again, the path levels out and the summit is not too far. The vista atop Wittenberg is relatively small, but the view is truly extraordinary.

You’ll find a perfect look at the shining Ashokan Reservoir, a much more relaxed hike! I had only planned on hiking Wittenberg. I wasn’t sure how long it was going to take, days were growing shorter, and we got a late start. However, we made impeccable time and I couldn’t resist bagging another high peak so close by! So we took the saddle road, along the same trail with some rolling hills. It wasn’t very riveting aside from the Cornell Crack.

A few people got hung up on this section of the trail, I suggest on the return having your back towards the rock and lowering yourself down. No, the view is not spectacular from Cornell.

This portion of the trail is for pure glory. Hiking all the way back is long and a bit monotonous, but worth it to gain number 7 and 8 on my 35ers journey.

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