A Guide To Hiking the Burroughs Range Loop in the Catskills
Utilizing the long weekend that Mr. Columbus provided us with in his conquest to capture the Americas, I figured I would take a trip to the Catskills region in upstate New York and catch some fall foliage while attempting the Burroughs Range Loop in one day. I originally planned to do the hike over two days, however the plan quickly morphed into a one day mission.
After a night of rain in Central Jersey I woke up at 4:30am doubting whether or not I should even make the trip up, thinking to myself, how much better can the weather be 2 hours North (completely different to my learning). I said screw it and decided to go either way, worst comes to worst it would be my first backpacking trip in the rain. I had packed all my backpacking essentials: tent, MSR, gas, water filter, food, etc, in order to have a safety net incase I was not successful in completing the loop in a day. With my gear on my back, it added about 20 lbs… fairly light.
I was out of my house at about 5am, and arrived at Woodland Valley Parking at about 7:30am. For all of those planning on going into that area, the parking is the first parking lot on the right towards the end of the road. The loop which I was planning on doing went in the order of Mount Wittenberg first, then Cornell, and then lastly Slide. If you begin on the trail head which is right in front of the parking area you will begin with Slide (I do not recommend this track). In order to hit the peaks in my order you must cross the road and head to campsite 46. By this campsite you will see a small boulder and to the left of it you will see the red trail marker and a foot bridge. Cross the footbridge to get on the trail. Under the footbridge was one of the only two times I saw water over the entire trail. So if you are doing this over two days I would recommend to carry all of the water needed. After about 1 minute of walking the trail turned pretty vertical and changes from steep to heavily inclined several times.
When you start approaching Mt. Wittenberg you will definitely know it. While I was doing this solo, I do not recommend for anyone to do this alone. You will start to see large rock buildups 10–20 ft high which you will have to climb up with all your stuff on your back. It’s not difficult if you have good balance and some upper body strength. There are about 3–5 climbs like this and then you make it to the top. The top is beautiful so take it in, especially since all of the other peaks do not compare to this one.
After about another hour of cruising you will reach the “top” of Cornell. It feels like an extension of Wittenberg, and is simply a boulder which you can stand on to get a scenic panoramic view.
The next hour after that is downhill walking. Through the downhill walk you will see several signs for primitive campsites. The signs are yellow arrows generally pointing in the according direction of a flat area. Many people do overnight stops here as you have exercised a great amount up till this point. After the hour passes you will see a mountain in front of you, that is what you are going to ascend, so get ready for more vertical walking. The ascend takes about an hour and the view isn’t all that spectacular. There is some flat ground available to rest and eat. The following hour and a half is downhill walking. The rocks on the way down are unpleasant to walk on as they are unevenly paced. Once reaching the bottom you will reach a junction, turn right, you have .7 miles left to Slide Mountain Parking lot.
Then you will come down to the Slide Mt. parking lot. Turn right onto the road and then the next part of this loop is walking on the road till Giant Ledge Parking. Once you get to Giant Ledge right at the beginning you will see a sign for Wood Valley Parking 3.5 miles away. There’s about an hour long hike up till you see another intersection, the right is toward Wood Valley. From this point on it is another hour and a half of downhill walking, except for one steep ascend section, and then you are finished!
I began this loop at 8am and finished at 4:15pm. If you are looking just for views I would recommend ascending toward Mt. Wittenberg, resting and eating up there, and then returning back down as opposed to doing the whole thing loop. However, if you are spreading this out over a one or two night adventure then it can definitely be a pleasant walk!