Windham High Peak

Chasing fall foliage to Windham High Peak, one of the 3,500ft peaks in the Catskills, New York.

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Route Description

0 mi0 miStart at the end of Peck Rd
0.85 mi0.85 miElm Ridge Trail to Escarpment Trail
2.25 mi3.1 miEscarpment Trail to the summit of Windham High Peak
2.25 mi5.35 miEscarpment Trail back to Elm Ridge Trail
0.85 mi6.2 miElm Ridge Trail back to Peck Rd

Map

Note: Map mileage does not match stats because Gaia GPS tends to undercount it. Mileage stats were calculated using 4000footers.com.

Windham High Peak

Hike Date: October 18, 2020

This weekend it snowed in the White Mountains. We love winter hiking, but we are just not ready to say goodbye to fall. So, instead of heading north, we went west to chase peak fall foliage and hike a moderate out and back trail in the Catskills: Windham High Peak. Windham High Peak is one of the 35 peaks on the Castkills 3,500 Club list. When we lived in Brooklyn, the Castkills were the closest mountain range to us and we casually started bagging these peaks years ago. We haven’t consciously worked on this list in a while, but it was nice to get back to the mountains that really nurtured our love for hiking and check Windham off the list!

At 10:30am, we parked at the end of Peck Road (there are a couple of Peck Roads, make sure you park at the one off of Big Hollow Road) and took Elm Ridge Trail, marked by yellow blazes. The first mile was a very mild walk in the woods under a tree canopy of golden yellow. The forest floor was coated in fallen leaves, which was beautiful, but that also covered some rocks that made footing a bit tricky in a few spots. A few wood footbridges helped us avoid any small puddles from the rain the day before. After less than a mile, we reached the trail juncture to turn right on Escarpment Trail, marked by blue blazes. Just after this juncture, we passed Elm Ridge Lean-to, providing an option for hikers and backpackers looking to spend the night. 

Elm Ridge Trailhead
Following the yellow blazes over wood footbridges
Intersection of Escarpment and Elm Ridge Trails

The climb up Escarpment Trail was very gradual and enjoyable. We moved through a short rooty spruce tree section and then returned to the yellow forest. These sections felt like completely different forests in entirely different environments. It seemed very unnatural and that’s no surprise as the spruce trees were all planted by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s. Then, we skirted the side of the mountain as we climbed higher into the zone where most of the leaves had fallen from the trees.

We got to the rounded summit area where there were a couple of open ledges with views into the valley – one toward Blackhead, Black Dome, and Thomas Cole Mountain, the other toward the Hudson Valley and north to Albany. The actual summit was marked by a small metal marker along the trail just past the viewpoints.

About to emerge into a sea of yellow
Almost to the summit
Gradual ascent
Summit marker
View of three other Catskill 3500 peaks: Black Dome, Blackhead, and Thomas Cole Mountain

On our way down, we passed by many hikers enjoying the fall day. This is probably one of the easiest mountains of the 3,500 Catskills list and is a very accessible trail. Over the last couple of years, we’ve hiked almost exclusively in the White Mountains so we had a great time getting back to the Catskills for some easier terrain and a trip down memory lane!

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