Sunday, April 28, 2013


Today's objective was Thomas Cole Mountain in the Blackhead Range of the northeastern Catskills. At 3940 ft., Thomas Cole is tied for fourth highest of the 35 Catskill 3500-ft. peaks. It was named for the famous 19th century artist who painted in both the Hudson Valley and the White Mountains. Our approach was via the Black Dome Range Trail from the end of Barnum Rd., just a few miles north of Hunter. This route, a moderately strenuous 6 miles round trip, leads over two spur peaks - The Caudal (3320 ft.) and Camel's Hump (3550 ft.), each of which provides some interesting views.The summit of Thomas Cole is wooded and now viewless, though there is an outlook on the way up to the summit.

From Scribner Hollow Rd., we had a look ahead at the three peaks on the day's itinerary.

One of the typical "TRAIL TO" signs used by the NY State Dept. of Environmental Conservation in the Catskills.

It was good to be back in the beautiful Catskill hardwood forest.

Carol works her way up a steep pitch climbing The Caudal.

At the top of the steep stretch there was a great ledge perch just a few yards to the right of the trail, looking SW.

A closer look at Hunter Mountain, seen beyond the pass we drove through on Scribner Hollow Rd.

Classic Catskill terrain on The Caudal.

A short descent off The Caudal led to a wonderful level traverse on the ridge leading across towards Camel's Hump.

A moderate climb up Camel's Hump led us through some neat first-growth hardwood forest that has never been logged, as detailed by Catskill forest histoiran Michael Kudish in his classic The Catskill Forest: A History.

Approaching the summit of Camel's Hump. Except in winter, camping is prohibited in the Catskills above 3500 ft.

Boulder at the summit of Camel's Hump. This peak is not on the 3500-footer list because it has only about an 80-ft. col with the taller Thomas Cole Mountain.

A short side path led to a long view NW from Camel's Hump.

Windham High Peak, a 3500-footer that Carol and I climbed a few years ago, is seen close by to the north.

By scrounging around off another side path, I found a good look at fir-capped Thomas Cole Mountain, our next objective.

In the saddle between Camel's Hump and Thomas Cole the trail passes through some beautiful high elevation meadows.

An outlook on the flank of Thomas Cole offered a view back to Camel's Hump and distant ranges beyond.


As we ascended Thomas Cole we ran into a few remnant snow patches. One of the beauties of the Catskills in late April is that the snow is mostly melted out, except in the highest and shadiest areas. Once into the conifers above 3600 ft., there were quite a few icy patches on the trail, but there was little snow in the woods.

At the high point of the trail on Thomas Cole. The actual summit is somewhere off-trail just to the north, but it was hard to tell exactly where. We considered continuing across the range to Black Dome Mountain, which has a fine south-facing outlook ledge, but a probe in that direction showed more snow and ice than we wanted to bother with, so we headed back down towards Camel's Hump.

Descending through the conifers on Thomas Cole.

Heading back across the saddle - great ridge walking in the sun!

We took a nice long break at the north viewpoint on Camel's Hump.

A neat trail scene descending off Camel's Hump.

A beautiful hardwood shelf beside the trail.

Mossy ledges on The Caudal.

Time for another break at the view ledge on The Caudal, looking towards Hunter, West Kill and Rusk Mountains beyond the East Jewett Range.

The rugged peaks of the eastern Devil's Path: Indian Head, Twin and Sugarloaf.

A steep and rocky pitch off The Caudal. Blue skies, beautiful woods, good views, and interesting ridges combined for a magical spring day in the Catskills.


  1. Love the photo of Devis Path. Easy to see why T Cole chose the Catskills! JimmyO

    1. Thanks for your comment - the Devil's Path certainly is picturesque.