New York State is home to several gorgeous and ancient mountain ranges, including the Adirondack Mountains, the Catskill Mountains, and part of the Appalachian Mountain Range. Hikers in the area will find these accessible from most parts of the state, and the opportunities for hiking and camping are all but endless. The Catskills 3500 Club, which opens its arms to hikers who have climbed all 35 of the peaks over 3,500 feet high at the summit, offers a unique and challenging goal to many hikers in the region, and the intersection of New York’s mountains with trails like the Long Path and the Appalachian Trail make these peaks a must-see for any avid hiker.
25 Most Beautiful Mountains in New York
- Sugarloaf, Photo: Courtesy of robert cicchetti - Fotolia.com
- Westkill, Photo: Courtesy of Arthur - Fotolia.com
- Blackhead, Photo: Courtesy of brandtbolding - Fotolia.com
- Pyramid Peak, Photo: Courtesy of birdiegal - Fotolia.com
- Breakneck Ridge, Photo: Courtesy of oldmn - Fotolia.com
- Crane Mountain, Photo: Courtesy of LOBO - Fotolia.com
- Cornell, Photo: Courtesy of Asim Patel - Fotolia.com
- Storm King, Photo: Courtesy of brandtbolding - Fotolia.com
- Eagle Catskills, Photo: Courtesy of robert cicchetti - Fotolia.com
- Blue Mountain, Photo: Courtesy of hollandog - Fotolia.com
- Bear Mountain, Photo: Courtesy of jamznb - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of oldmn - Fotolia.com
Mount Egbert is a great hiker for amateur backpackers looking to get some experience before taking on some of the more challenging peaks in the area. Located along the Appalachian Trail, Mount Egbert summits at 1,329 feet, and is located in Dutchess County, New York. The mountain contains some beautiful woodland, with a crisscross network of vehicle-accessible roads that make options for day hikes of various lengths and difficulties practically endless. The summit is accessible via the Appalachian Trail, approaching from either the north or the south, and contains a scenic overlook area near to the summit. The Morgan Stewart Shelter, near the summit of Mount Egbert, is available for camping.
Mount Jo is a beautiful little mountain that rises above Heart Lake near Lake Placid, New York. The mountain and the lake were named in the 19th century by Henry Van Hovenberg for his lost love, Josephine, who first spotted the mountain and the lake from the summit of a neighboring mountain, where they became engaged. There are two different trails that lead to the top of Mount Jo, from which hikers can see amazing views of the surrounding peaks and area. There is a parking fee of $9 per day to enter the park, and a summit steward at the top of the peak to answer questions from hikers and tourists.
Brace Mountain is located in Taconic State Park, near the state borders of Connecticut and Massachusetts. The park is open daily from sunrise to sunset, weather permitting. With a summit of 2,311 feet, Brace Mountain is the highest in the county, with a sub-summit of 2,304 feet, located just south of the true summit, with better views in that direction. Brace Mountain is accessible via several routes, including the Mount Frissell trail, the South Taconic Trail, or the Alander Mountain Trail. These various options make it quite easy to summit three peaks in three different states, all in one hike. Brace Mountain is also quite close to the famous Appalachian Trail.
Kaaterskill High Peak
Kaaterskill High Peak is one of the most iconic mountains in the Catskills, as it stands distinctly isolated from the rest of the mountains in its range and has been the subject of many famous paintings and photographs. Although at 3,655 feet it is not the highest in elevation of the Catskill 3500ers, it ranks fourth in prominence, making it one of the steeper and more challenging hikes in the Catskills, depending on the chosen trail. Both approaches to the mountain are reachable by the Long Path, which connects to a snowmobile trail and then a herd path that traverses the summit. The southern approach is shorter and easier, at about 7 miles total, but the northern approach (approximately 10.5 miles out and back) is incredibly beautiful, with waterfalls and many scenic overviews, although it is quite steep, with an elevation gain of almost 3,000 feet.
Sugarloaf Mountain, located in Hudson Highlands State Park, is not to be confused with any of the other Sugarloafs in the area. The other, which is nearby, is often referred to as Sugarloaf Hill. But Sugarloaf Mountain is an easy 1-hour drive from New York City, and part of a park that contains many fun hikes and trails. The hike to the summit of Sugarloaf is not a long one, but it is quite steep, with lots of rocks. From the open summit, which is accessible via the Yellow Trail, hikers will see lovely views of neighboring mountains and surrounding areas. Hudson Highlands State Park is open from sunrise to sunset and camping is not permitted.
Big Indian Mountain reaches 3,710 feet at its summit and is located in the Big Indian Wilderness. There is no marked trail to the top of Big Indian Mountain, but hikers can use the Pine Hill-West Branch Trail for part of the way until they find a herd path that leads to the summit. Hikers should note that the Pine Hill-West Branch Trail leads through many forested areas where the trail has been partially reclaimed by nature, and so this hike can be quite challenging. The Big Indian Wilderness area is quite remote, and is less popular with hikers, which makes it a very peaceful, quiet hike in the wilderness.
Table Mountain (3847 feet), located in the Southern Catskills, is a popular hike that is often paired with the summit of its neighboring mountain, Peekamoose Mountain. The mountain is also accessible on its own via the Phoenicia East Branch Trail, but the Peekamoose-Table Trail, which allows hikers to summit both peaks, is only about 4.3 miles long. It leads hikers through forests, wildflowers, and some lovely views and overlooks. Although there are no sweeping vistas or strikingly impressive views from the summit, Table Mountain is a fun hike with easy access and steady elevation gain, making it a go-to for hikers looking to start checking peaks off of the Catskill 3500 list.
Balsam Mountain (not to be confused with Balsam Lake Mountain or Balsam Cap Mountain), reaches 3,610 feet at its summit and is located near Pine Hill, New York. To reach the summit, hikers must take the Pine-Hill West Branch trail, which can sometimes prove difficult in the forested sections. Hikers can choose to take this trail all the way or approach it from a number of other trails, including the Seager-Big Indian Trail or the Oliverea Mapledale Trail. Balsam is located in one of the most remote locations in the Catskills, and so its summit does not offer views that are quite as impressive as some of the other mountains on this list, but shortly after the summit there are some beautiful viewpoints. Lean-tos and campsites are located near the trails.
Peekamoose Mountain (3,843 feet) is a popular hike for those looking to bag a mountain on the Catskills 3500 list, as it is a fairly easy hike with lovely views and trails that are easy to follow. The hike to the summit is just over 3 miles long, with no real views at the top but plenty of gorgeous and peaceful scenery in the forest portions of the trail. Peekamoose Mountain is quite close to Table Mountain, another member of the 3500 club, and the Peekamoose-Table trail will lead hikers to both summits in one go. The distance between the two peaks is about 1 mile.
Twin Mountain (3,640 feet) gets its name from the two summits on the north and south sides. These peaks are only a mile apart, and although both contain some of the most amazing views in the Catskills, the south summit is where hikers will find their most Instagram-worthy locations. Twin Mountain is part of the Devil’s Path, which runs through the Catskills for over 25 miles and summits several of the most fun and challenging mountains in the region. Twin Mountain is located between Sugarloaf Mountain and Indian Head, and it is quite easy for experienced hikers to summit a combination of these mountains in one day.
With a summit of 3,780 feet above sea level, Wittenberg Mountain is the 14th highest peak in the Catskills. Its summit is part of the Long Path, which is a 345-mile-long trail that starts in New Jersey and ends near Albany. The mountain is open for hikers and climbers, and camping is permitted at Woodland Valley State Camp Ground, which is also where the trailhead is located. Hikers must pay a parking fee to park at the campground when it is open. Wittenberg Mountain’s trail and summit are open all year round, although hikers are advised to bring appropriate gear, like crampons and rope, during the winter.
Schunnemunk Mountain is located in Orange County, New York, and from its summit (1,664 feet), hikers can see spectacular views of the Hudson River, the Catskill Mountains and, if the weather is kind, even the New York City skyline. The mountain contains more than 25 miles of marked trails, all of which are privately owned. Although hiking is permitted, visitors are asked to please respect the private owners by staying on the marked trails and respecting signs posted in the area. Schunnemunk has forests as well as rocky outcrops near the top of the ridge. These upper areas are very exposed and can get very windy. Camping on Schunnemunk is allowed only with a permit, but the nearby Harriman State Park has campsites available to the public.
Located in the Shawnangunk Mountains near New Paltz, New York, Bonticou Crag is a fun and beautiful hike with many options for reaching the top, including one that involves large sections of scrambling that is widely considered to be one of the most challenging hikes in the region. Bonticou Crag is part of the Mohonok Preserve, which is privately owned. Visitors must stop at the toll house or visitors center upon arrival to the Mohonok Preserve and pay an entrance fee of $9 per day. Camping is permitted in a 16-site section of the preserve known as Trapp’s Camp, but is prohibited elsewhere on the property.
At 2,435 feet in elevation at the summit, Huckleberry Mountain is not the tallest mountain on this list, but this gorgeous little peak, located in the southern Adirondacks near Johnsburgh, is nonetheless worth a trip. The mountain provides spectacular views of the Paint Beds, where a 19th-century paint mine once produced the materials for making red paint. Hikers can spot the pits and remains of the buildings from the trail. Huckleberry also includes some impressive ridges and cliffs, which extend for about a mile and a half along the trail. Most of Huckleberry Mountain is located on private land, so camping is not allowed without the owner’s permission and while hiking is permitted, visitors should be aware of posting and signs.