Latest Trail Run – Devil’s Path Trail in New York’s Catskills
I’m psyched to share an update about another trail run for 5x5x5: my project to raise money for World Central Kitchen’s work in Ukraine (see https://gofund.me/1ce72b8e).
But first, let me describe how I think this run relates to starting an apparel brand! More on this below, but the Devil’s Path involves a ton of steep ups and downs, which means that you move rapidly from the kind of hardwood forest common to lower elevations to forests that have evergreen trees and feel almost alpine. In short, the landscape on this trail changes really quickly and there is always something new – which ALSO reminds me of how things are right now with Mill & Mountain. In particular, we now have a new product (All-In Pants – mill & mountain (millandmountain.com)) – with more on the way (Mill and Mountain (@mill.and.mountain) • Instagram photos and videos). Change and new things are good!
OK, back to the trail. The Devil’s Path Trail is in New York’s Catskill Mountains, about 120 miles from NYC. I had read that many people consider this trail among the toughest on the East Coast – not so much for the distance (about 24 miles) but rather because there’s almost 9000 feet of (mostly steep) climbing. Learning this, naturally I was interested!
The Trail. The trail begins near Hunter, New York (Google “Prediger Road trailhead“ for the specific location) and ends near the village of West Kill, New York (Google “Spruceton Road trailhead to find that spot). There is parking at each end. Most people go from east to west; many people stop at the road crossing in the middle. Some camp in the middle, but some (like me) do it in a day.
There are some signs for the “Devils Path” trail, but not a ton. While the trail is marked and there are red blazes for the entire length, I recommend having a map for sure – especially at the beginning where navigation was a little tricky.
I had gotten to the Spruceton Road trailhead late the night before and crashed for the night, with a plan to bike back to the Prediger Road trailhead early the next morning. I started the bike ride at about 5:15 AM, finished by about 8:15 AM, and ready to start the run by about 8:30 AM. The ride is about 25 miles, though I had a bit of a mix-up at the beginning so it was more like 30 miles for me.
One thing I’ve learned is that trail running on steep mountain trails is a lot more like fast hiking than road running – and that was definitely the case on this trail for me. I did run where I could, but there were rocks, roots, and mud the entire way – which made full-on running basically impossible. The fastest known time on this trail is about 4.5 hours. It took me just under 10. Pretty typical timing for me… (!!)
Like I mentioned earlier, this trail has tons of steep climbing (see vertical relief picture below), which takes you through very different types of landscapes. In some places the climbing was steep enough that it felt almost like bouldering, and in quite a few places I had to pull myself up using tree roots, etc. Definitely a workout! But totally worth it from the top – especially the phenomenal views of the Catskills, the Hudson River, and the entire Hudson River valley.
Gear. Poles were definitely handy. I wore trail running shoes (Hoka Speedgoat 4 GTX). I wore sunglasses, but these weren’t really essential because most of the time I was in the woods.
Food. PB&Js, bars, gels, chews – nothing fancy.
Water. Something to think about! There’s no water at the Prediger trailhead and the first water I found on the trail was a spring at the 8 or 9 mile mark. There was water at a road crossing at about 12 miles, but it was pretty crummy (slow moving water with algae and frogs – yuk). Not the fast moving stream I was hoping for! Still, I filtered and drank it – and it tasted OK under the circumstances. There was a stream crossing at about mile 16.5 that I could have filtered water from, but otherwise not much water through the end. My suggestion: drink plenty before you start, carry a few liters plus a filter and purification tablets, and drink when you have a chance.
In sum …. this is a great trail that will work your quads and rear end in a phenomenal way – while also giving unparalleled views of the Hudson River valley. I saw fewer than a dozen people all day, so I guess you’ll find it not very crowded either. Definitely recommended!
Can you do in a day? Of course! Just get an early start. Maybe make it easy on yourself and forgo the bike ride too.😊