From The North: Take Rt. 23A west through Catskill Park, past Hunter Mountain. Continue 8 miles to Lexington. Turn left onto Rt. 42, traveling south 4 miles to the town of West Kill. Head east on CR6, Spruceton Rd, for 2.8 miles and park at the fishing access area.
From The South: Take Rt. 28 west through Catskill Park. At Shandaken head north on Rt. 42 to West Kill and follow directions above.
While many popular trails in the Hunter Mountain Wild Forest can be accessed from Spruceton Road, the road itself makes a great backcountry mountain bike ride for the novice mountain biker, family group or those just out for some spectacular scenery and solitude. The surrounding terrain is mountainous, characterized by high ridges and peaks, rocky terraced slopes and deeply carved stream valleys. Recreational opportunities include hiking, snowshoeing, bird-watching, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, primitive camping, horseback riding and fishing.
Wildlife sightings are always possible. Species include bobcat, mink, fishers, porcupines, coyotes, deer, black bear and maybe a snake or two.
While Wilderness areas in the Catskill Forest Preserve are currently off limits,Preserve trails in Wild Forest areas are open to mountain bikes. Of all the trails on Hunter Mountain, the Spruceton Trail and Diamond Notch Trail are most suitable for mountain biking. (see below) Popular hiking trails in the area include the Devil’s Path, Becker Hollow and the Colonel’s Chair.
This backcountry route through Spruceton Valley follows the West Kill River (stocked with brown trout by the DEC). Although you are completely surrounded by mountains, the ride with its mostly gentle grades, is an easy bike ride. Highlights of this ride include views of many mountain peaks over 3,000 feet and access to Diamond Notch Falls.
To your south is the 19,000 acre West Kill Mountain Wilderness. Its five named peaks are Westkill (3,880'), North Dome (3,610'), Sherrill (3,540'), Balsam (3,340'), and Sheridan Peak (2,220'). To your north, is the 11,000 acre Hunter Mountain Wild Forest with six named peaks - Hunter Mountain (4,040'), Southwest Hunter (3,740'), Rusk Mountain (3,680'), Evergreen Mountain (3,360'), Pine Island Mountain (3,140'), and Packsaddle Mountain (3,100').
Spruceton Road (CR6) follows the West Kill for about 7 miles from the town of West Kill to its end at the Hunter Mountain Wild Forest. Starting out as a paved road it becomes dirt and gravel, crossing two small bridges before reaching the Spruceton Trail trailhead parking lot, marked by a DEC sign.
You can park in the town of West Kill for a 14 mile roundtrip. Parking at the fishing access area 2.8 miles in will save around 5 1/2 total miles. If you want to explore any of the trails at the end of Spruceton Road, you should park at the fishing access lot.
At around 3.7 miles you will pass the trailhead for the Devil’s Path. This rugged hiking trail features a strenuous 1,500 ft climb rewarded by spectacular views. At the end of Spruceton Road there will be three parking lots. The first, marked by a DEC sign, on the left, is the trailhead for the Spruceton Trail. The last is the trailhead for the Diamond Notch Trail which leads to the Diamond Notch waterfalls in about 1 mile.
Spruceton Trail (3.6 miles one-way):
This trail is the easiest, but not the shortest route, to the Hunter Mountain Fire Tower. That doesn’t mean that it is easy for mountain biking. Although this old jeep road starts out wide with a gentle slope, you will eventually have to climb over 1,500 vertical feet. Rocky, steep sections make the trail appropriate for the more experienced rider. Extensive trail work performed by the DEC included transforming steep hairpin turns into switchbacks, making the trail easier to climb. Several level stretches that travel through boreal forest at 3,500 ft. give you an opportunity to prepare for the final climb to the summit.
The Hunter Mountain Fire Tower is the highest in New York State. The 60 ft. tower stands atop 4,040 ft. Hunter Mountain. The original wooden tower was built in 1909, and later replaced by a steel one. Although no longer in use after 1990 it was reopened to the public in 2000 after renovations. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Diamond Notch Trail (1 mile to Diamond Notch Falls):
Access to the trail is from the last parking lot at the end of Spruceton Road. The trail was once a town road and rises gently with the headwaters of the West Kill River. You will reach Diamond Notch Falls after about 1 mile. The falls drop 25 ft. into an amphitheater-like setting. There is a small meadow nearby.
For more information:
Forest Preserve Management
Phone: (607) 652-7365
Phone: (518) 402-8013 TTY: 711 (AT&T National Relay)
Website: Hunter Mountain Wild Forest