'Hardest Hiking Trail in the East'

By STEPHEN REGENOLD

It took 22 hours and 52 minutes, but this week the Gear Junkie crew completed a fast and light trek of the Devils Path, the often-cited “hardest hiking trail in the East.” The trail, in New York’s Catskill Mountains, gets this name because of its ceaselessly vertical nature — in 27 miles the path climbs and descends six major peaks, racking up a total of 14,000 cumulative vertical feet of gain/loss over its knee-crushing course.

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Gear Junkie editor Stephen Regenold ducks through a constriction on the trail; photo by T.C. Worley

A crew of three — myself, GearJunkie contributing editor T.C. Worley, and Brian Leitten, a friend and video producer in New York — began our trek late on Monday night after a day of literal planes, trains and automobiles. We flew to JFK, hopped a subway to Manhattan, then switched to an Amtrak in Penn Station for a 1.5-hour ride north of the city. By 10p.m., we were at the western trailhead of the Devils Path, a biked locked up as our “shuttle” at the other end, and getting ready to hike off into the night.

We ticked off 7 miles the first night before bivying a couple hours in the woods. Next morning, we got up early and made the assault on the remaining six mountains and 22 miles of the trail. We finished the route after dark on Tuesday night, thighs a bit jello-like and knees sore. Then, it was time to hop on the bike to pedal back to get the car. . . .

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Section of the trail along a creek; photo by T.C. Worley

Overall, an epic trip! We’ll have a full report soon on gear from the trail as well as a video. We were in New York to film the third episode in our “Fast & Light” video series. After climbing Kings Peak in Utah (episode 1) and getting lost traversing Minnesota’s Boundary Waters (episode 2), the Devils Path offered a unique physical challenge and a gorgeous setting in the Catskill Mountains accentuated this week by autumn leaves and woodsy peaks spiking, one after the next, into the sky.

—Stephen Regenold is editor of GearJunkie.com. He covered the Devils Path on assignment for the New York Times. His story, “2 Days, 3 Nights, on a Path Named for a Devil,” ran in the Times in September, 2009.

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T.C. Worley shooting (left) and Regenold on steep section of the trail; photos by Brian Leitten

Commenting on post : 'Hardest Hiking Trail in the East'
Posted by Me Ed - 10/12/2011 09:45 AM

I do the escarpment trail run between Windham and Tannersvile but this looks much more rigid, good job.

Posted by Seth - 10/12/2011 09:46 AM

Awesome makes my weekends sound like nothing. Love your guys/girls stories and adventure tales..

Posted by UpNorthica - 10/12/2011 11:23 AM

Can’t wait for the video. The pics alone look amazing!

Posted by hugo walker - 10/12/2011 11:48 AM

AWESOME! Best through-hike time I’m aware of, even w/ the bivy….NYARA regularly has a train ing weekend on DP. Gawdamn I miss New York sometimes!

Posted by Daniel Beach - 10/12/2011 08:11 PM

totally awesome! Can’t wait to see the whole trip report with more pics and video. Adventures are the best!

Posted by Dave - 11/01/2011 04:05 PM

I enjoyed watching the video. It brought back memories. Eleven of us did this same hike in the opposite direction in May. The first 6 to finish did so in about 11 hours. The last 5 did so in about 12 hours. I am aware of others that completed this hike in less than 11 hours. I am sure you could have also completed the hike in much less time if it were not for the need to capture video along the way. If you want a real challenge, try the Great Range Traverse. Hike from the Rooster Comb trailhead to the Adirondack LOJ. This is a much harder day hike than Devil’s Path. It took us about 5 hours longer to complete this hike than Devil’s Path. It is much more technical but the views are much more rewarding.

Posted by t.c. worley - 11/03/2011 10:34 AM

Dave, thanks for the comment. Great Range Travers sounds like a winner. Let me assure you that GJ could go MUCH faster without his ball n’ Chain cameraman!

Posted by ethel solinski - 11/02/2012 09:45 AM

great pics

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