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St. Anne's Peak
Catskill 35 Index CHH Index NJ1K Index

Quick Look - Westkill Loop from Mink Hollow
Difficulty Round trip Total climb Location Internet Maps
Trail difficultyTrail difficultyTrail difficultyTrail difficulty 10.85 mi. 2950 ft. N42 10.08 W74 17.40 Google Maps

CHH peak map Take Rt. 42 north from Shandaken off Rt. 28. In Spruceton make a right on Spruceton Rd. along the West Kill. Continue for several miles until the first small parking area on the left marked with the yellow on brown signs. This is the Mink Hollow parking area and is the extreme western end of the Devil's Path. This end gets much less traffic than the other and the trail is more overgrown in places and less well-defined. Get on the trail and walk to the register a few hundred yards up into the woods. The first part of the trail seems to be a steep climb out of the parking area but then starts to moderate some as it follows a small brook. the trail can be wet at times and swampy on the right giving rise to all sorts of biting insects. At about 1.4 miles into the hike the trail turns sharply to the left. This is a good spot to turn to the right if you want to brave the swamp and the nettles to start a bushwhack on North Dome.

The Devil's Path turns left and the elevation increases quickly. The trail remains wet in all but the driest seasons as several small springs and brooks add to the moist conditions. Lush expanses of briars and stinging nettles infest the trail. After a mile of climbing with some steep areas you reach the top of the western summit of Westkill which is St. Anne's Peak. This peak itself is 3420 feet but has no view to speak of. A descent into the col between the two summits begins almost immediately. It is relatively short but steep over slippery rocks at times. In less than two miles a sign marks the summit of the eastern peak of Westkill. There is no view from this point but a short walk brings you to the Buck Ridge lookouts. These looks outs provide an almost unhindered view of the hills and valleys around Westkill. The entire panorama from both lookouts must be close to 270 degrees.

The descent to the east from the lookouts is steep at times and can be treacherous in the winter or after a rain has soaked the rocks. After less than a mile there is a "cave" or overhanging rock ledge that can prove to be a shelter during a storm. After a little more than two miles of descent, you arrive at Diamond Notch Falls. The falls are always pretty but are nicer when there is a larger volume of water flowing over them. It is possible to walk out onto the falls but be careful of the slippery rocks. You can also got to the base of the falls from either side of the Westkill. A bridge above the falls offers and easy crossing and another view. From here there are several choices of trails. The Devil's Path continues up to the Devil's Acre lean-to and the path to Hunter Mountain. The Diamond Notch Trail goes out to the Diamond Notch parking area. Go over the bridge and turn right onto the wide Spruceton Trail to get back to your car. The walk to the road is less than a mile but the walk on the road back to the car is almost four miles. The option of taking the Devil's Path and then going on up to Hunter is an attractive one. At the top of Hunter you can take the Spruceton Trail back down to Spruceton Road. This forms a bigger loop. Remember that this adds the second highest peak in the Catskills and at least another 6 miles to the hike!

CHH peak profile

(The image at the left shows the overall vertical profile of the hike in the outbound direction. Notice the VERY gradual increase in elevation to start. The falls are at the base of the steep climb.)