Hunter Mountain via Spruceton Horse Trail is a 7 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near West Kill, NY that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from April until October.
We had it a bit easier as we hiked from the chair lift in. There's a fire tower at top, which makes it all worth while. Sensational views. It's just over a mile, mostly uphill from the chairlift to Sprucetown Rd, and the just over a mile from that intersection to the tower. So, make it just over 4 miles in and out using the chair lift. There are also views from the top of the lift area.
I wouldn't say it's a "moderate" hike, as the first part was allll uphill and coming back down is even worse! It's an intense walk so be prepared for a workout. The fire tower at the top is nice. There's some lookouts along the way. A lean too at one point as well. It was a bit chilly when we did it and not much scenery to really look at besides straight woods.
I have hiked Hunter twice. The first time I went from the other side and used the devil's path until we hit the tower and made our way down to spruceton road.
The second time, I took a group of inexperienced hikers using this route. My friends had no issues with it, but they are also fairly athletic people. We also hiked the extra 2.2 miles to go to the Hunter chair, but that wasn't worth it as it was just a chair lift for skiing. Overall, a well marked path that is less steppy and rocky and more of a steep gravel path if that makes sense. Saw a ton of small snakes and the bugs were annoying until it rained.
Great hike! Did the loop. Quite a bit of ice at the top at times. The loop is 8 miles. Diamond Falls is a great spot. Fire tower offers outstanding views and a sweet picnic / napping spot. Took about 6 hours due to ice slowing us down.
beautiful, steep hike
This is a great hike on a well maintained trail. I combined Hunter and Rusk mountain on this hike giving me two Catskill high peaks. Check out my write up, it includes directions and other things to look for.
I completed the Hunter Mountain loop from Spruceton Valley. I started at the end of Spruceton Road from the Diamond Notch Trail (blue markers) which connected to Devil’s Path (red markers). After passing the Devil’s Acre Lean-to you take the yellow-marked Hunter Mountain trail which takes you to the fire tower, observer’s cabin, and summit. After spending some time at the fire tower, I took the Spruceton trail (blue markers) back to the parking area.
Overall, the hike is a pretty steady incline with several sections of level trail. The Spruceton trail is a designated equine trail so it is very wide with no obstacles. Other than the fire tower, this route offers two other views. The first was is from Geiger Point off the junction with the Hunter Mountain Trail. The second overlook is more obvious along the Spruceton Trail to the right which I believe provides views of Onteora & Parker Mountains.
Other than the above trails, Hunter Mountain can be accessed via the shorter and steeper Becker Hollow Trail and in the non-winter months from Colonel’s Chair trail when Hunter Mountain operates their ski lift to that trail.
My family and I have hiked this trail several times. The trail is wide and well maintained, more like an access road than a trail. The firetower is nice and everyone enjoys the climb to the to for the view. We usually return to the trailhead via Devils path to Diamond notch. This allows us to see the falls at Diamond Notch and the lean-to at Devils acre. There is another lean-to on the way up with a spring and good views. We have spent the night at Devils acre and had a black bear wander through camp at night.
The first 1.7 miles weren't that bad, but the last 1.8 miles were very steep and strenuous. Part of the trail was rocky but overall the hike was very good. The views from the fire tower were very nice and refreshing.
Great the whole trail is also a atv road for servicing the fire tower and the trail is very level at the top
Did the Blue Trail hike to the summit several years ago with a bad hangover, found the views from the fire tower to be vertigo-inducing but awe-inspiring.
Hiked the blue trail up yesterday.. found the trail challenging.. novice hiking experience..made it to the firetower in under 2.5 hours, had to take our time on the way back, loose stone, leaves, sections with runoff made for some slippery conditions.. view from the top steps of the firetower were great!
Went up Hunter from the Spruceton road parking lot like many others. I understand this is the easiest approach up Hunter. We have both barely hiked in the past two years so wanted something easier to kick off with. We did this hike after doing Storm King the previous day in NY but it was still pretty easy. A word of warning, do not believe that the weather at the foot of the mountain is the same as the top. The day we set off it was cloudy but pretty mild. At the top it was 32f and snowing, with very strong winds (late October). Bring gloves and waterproofs no matter the forecast!! The hike up is quick. We didn't go up Rusk so it only took an hour and 40 mins to get to the fire tower. Some steep bits but the trail is very well marked and you don't really need a map. I like to always have one just in case though. We avoided the fire tower due to the winds so didn't see much of a view. There was some water logging of the trail on the way down (we followed the yellow loop down to the red marked devils path, then blue back past Diamond notch falls to the card park again), but it was easy and fun to jump from rock to log. No one ended up with wet feet. This time of year can make the 2 mile devils path section a little difficult. Wobbly rocks covered in a slick carpet of wet leaves make it slower going to avoid twisting ankles and knees. Any other time of year would be no proble. There are a couple of great lean-tos on the route if you want to camp. The falls are also very pretty. In all it took us 5 hours, no too hard, but a fun challenge for your legs. Highly recommend.
Combined this hike from the Spruceton Road DEC Parking Area (the one with the horse mounting ramp) with a hike up Rusk on the way to Hunter. About 7/10th of mile from the start of the Spruceton Trail I ventured off the trail and into the woods (to the left of the trail, right where it makes a 90 degree bend). There are no trails to Rusk (trust me, I looked hard for one), just use your map, shoot an azimuth, remember the 13 degree declination and then trust your compass all the way to the top. If you offset a little to the right of the summit you'll know to look for the canister somewhere to your left. Rather than come back down the way that I went up, I followed the ridgeline east to a no named peak and then followed a ridgeline off this peak to the Spruceton Trail and came out about 50 feet below the trail intersection that makes a 90 degree turn up to Hunter. At this point it is 1.7 miles to the peak. I don't know if I was tired from my previous 3+ hour bushwhack but I thought the hike up to Hunter from this point was tiring/strenuous. The trail/road had only recently been plowed and leveled so the surface was smooth and not a challenge but the incline is a quad burner for sure! The views from the fire tower are spectacular and not to be missed. Go in the summer so that the Fire Tower Interpreter (volunteers) can show you around. Tour the care taker's cabin, etc. This hike is well worth the effort. Hunter Mountain is the second highest peak in the Catskills.
The trail from Spruceton Road was actually easier than I expected. Pretty much the same as the trail up Mount Tremper (except a little longer). The views were amazing, some of the best I have seen. After today, I only have one more Catskill Fire Tower to climb!
The trail we took followed a route that tractors go up. We saw several pieces of machinery off to the side of the trails. With that being said the trail was very wide and well maintained. Steep tho for the first 2.5 miles. Not terribly steep but constant incline. Last mile is pretty easy with some mud and water. Views from the lean to and fire tower were great. Took us 3 hours with a little over 30 mins at the top to eat and look around. Busy trail. We saw a lot of people. Just a little over 6 miles round trip from parking lot. Going down was easy pretty much jogging down most of the way.
There are at least 3 trails you can take to get to this summit with a firetower atop. The trailhead linked to this listing has you go up the horseback trail which is wide and steady incline. I kept going on the other side of the Mtn and made it a loop, connecting up with the Diamond Notch Falls trail. It was a great day! Except that the tower was pad locked so you couldn't get up into the cabin atop the tower. Two other towers in the Catskills were locked early in the spring as well. Anyone know why??? Seasonal? Vandalism problems? One of the ADK towers was open even in winter and I haven't seen one yet with a pad lock on it.
One of my fav hikes!