I recently explored the popular Giant Ledge Trail hike in the Catskills and want to share my experiences with anyone looking to do it for the first time, whether it’s worth it and what to expect if you do decide to do it. Consider this article on it a simple guide.
The hike is nice, offers nice challenges, great overlooks and opportunities to see other places nearby, but I wouldn’t call it one of the most amazing hiking trails in the Catskill Mountains. There are better options out there, but this one is worth doing at least once if you are looking to check off another hiking trail in this region.
Quick info on the Giant Ledge trail hike in the Catskills:
- Name: Giant Ledge.
- Location: Catskill Mountains.
- Hiking distance: 3 miles in and out.
- Difficulty: Moderate.
- Hike rating: 3.6 out of 5 stars.
- Good hike for everyone? I wouldn’t do it if you have injuries, there’s a lot of elevation gain.
Recommended hike? At least once yes because the overlook is nice and the crowds are generally smaller than other trails you’ll find in the Catskills, but overall you will find more scenic hikes to see in this region (options coming up below).
A simple guide to the Giant Ledge Trail (from start to finish):
1) First you need to get to the Giant Ledge trailhead:
Here is a GPS location to Giant Ledges trailhead. Keep in mind that about 10 miles before you reach this, you will have very poor cell phone reception and from the moment you park here to the moment you reach the summit of the trail (1.5 miles at least), you will barely have good reception.
From the moment you get to the trailhead, you will look for a bridge and once you cross it, you will see a map and official start to the trail. You will also cross another bridge shortly after that and there is a nice little stream underneath it.
2) You’ll start on the yellow trail, then switch over and continue on the blue trail:
There are only 2 trail colors to follow. For the first 1/4 mile, you will be on the yellow trail. Once you get to 1/4th miles in the Giant Ledge trail, you will come to a fork where blue will go left and yellow will go right.
You will take the blue trail (turn left) and just continue that way. Don’t worry about getting lost in the woods as there is a large sign saying that Giant Ledges is on the blue trail.
3) The first 30% of the trail is mostly rocky incline (scrambling):
The rocky incline begins shortly after you pass the initial bridge to start the hike. There will be quite a few incline areas before you reach the blue trail fork area.
Once you pass into the blue trail, it’ll be flat for a little bit before you come to another large elevated scramble. You’re going to want to use your hands here for leverage.
4) Once you reach the near summit area, you can find a small “Easter egg” which is a Spring:
You will come to another fork where the sign to see the Spring will be on your left and the sign to continue on the blue trail will be to your right. The Spring is only about 100 feet away on the left trail so you can choose to see if you want. Depending on the water flow, you may see it well.
Either way, remember to continue on the blue trail.
5) Once you reach the top of the mountain, the Giant Ledge overlook is very close:
The first official overlook you cross is the Giant Ledge overlook you see on Alltrails and other images of this spot in the Catskill Mountains. However as you continue on the blue trail (further on the summit), you will cross at least another 4 overlooks nearby and I honestly thought some of them were better than the Giant Ledges overlook.
You will also cross a few camp sites on the summit (this is another thing you can do on this mountain).
6) Optionally, you can continue on the blue trail to Panther Mountain (2 more miles after Giant Ledge):
There is another peak 2 miles after Giant Ledge. Fortunately reaching it is simple:
Just keep following the same blue trail for about another 2 miles. It’s mostly summit walks with a little bit of elevation decline/incline here and there. Some people say Panther Mountain has better views than Giant Ledges but I personally didn’t go that far.
Another thing you can do is actually find the trailhead to Panther Mountain here, and just do 2 miles from that trailhead there, but keep in mind you will have more incline to hike through if that’s the case.
7) When you’re done, just backtrack:
You’ll turn around and backtrack on the blue trail, then turn right on the yellow trail. Follow it back to the Giant Ledge Parking lot.
Overall the hike is not bad, certainly better than some others I have tried in the Catskills. The overlook payoff is OK but not amazing. If you are in shape and OK with a lot of rock scrambling and doing it with high elevation inclines, then this is a decent trail for you to check out.
Best hiking gear to check out the Giant Ledge trail (recommendations):
Questions about Giant Ledge:
Where is Giant Ledge in the Catskills?
Giant Ledge is basically located in the middle of the Catskill Mountains (Slide Mountain Wilderness). There is an official parking lot by the trailhead.
How long of a hike is Giant Ledge Catskills?
It’s about 1.5 miles from the trailhead to the Giant Ledge overlook.
What other hiking trails are nearby Giant Ledge?
1) The closest is Panther Mountain:
Like I said earlier, you can actually reach Panther Mountain by following the same blue trail after Giant Ledge, but you will need to backtrack eventually.
2) The next closest option is Slide Mountain:
It’s kind of a “next door neighbor” to Giant Ledge and the drive to it is about 15 minutes. I personally dislike the Slide Mountain trail because it’s mostly boring and there is more annoying incline involved, but there are some nice views at the top and there are 2 other mountain connections later on the same trail so you can potentially see more.
3) North South Lake (great compilation of Catskill hikes):
It’s about 30 minutes from Giant Ledge (and within the Catskills). You will have access to at least 5+ hiking trails there, such as Boulder Rock and my favorite which is Sunset Rock (or some call it Artist Rock).
4) Other awesome hikes in the Catskills:
See my list of the best hikes in the Catskill Mountains, but long story short, none of my recommendations include Giant Ledge or Slide Mountain (because I wasn’t a big fan of either trails).