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Hike to Camp & Bushwhack to Fir Mountain and Big Indian Mountain in the Catskills

Claryville, New York



10 miles

Elevation Gain

1600 ft

Route Type



Added by Aellon Krider

Hike to camp at Biscuit Brook then bushwhack to Fir Mountain and Big Indian Mountain.

Day 1: Hike to camp (2 miles, 300' elevation gain)

Day 2: Bushwhack to Fir Mountain and Big Indian Mountain (6 miles round-trip, 1300' elevation gain)

Day 3: Relax & hike back to car (2 miles)

Park at the Biscuit Brook Parking Area (GPS N 41 59.475 W 74 29.092).  Turn right on the road and walk about 100 feet to the trail head across the street. There is a registration box to sign in not far from the beginning of the hike. Then continue on the Blue (Pine Hill - West Branch) trail for 2 miles to the Lean-to. There will be two bridges to cross along the way. The hike is a bit rocky but mainly flat most of the way. There will be a Lean-to sign directing you to turn left. Take that short trail to the Biscuit Brook Lean-to and either camp here or continue past the Lean-to for a tent-friendly campsite. If both of those spots are taken, don't fret. You are allowed to camp anywhere as long as you are at least 150 feet from a water body, road, or trail, unless the area is posted as "Camping Prohibited." 

In the morning, grab your map & compass along with food and a couple liters of water. You won't find water near the top of the peaks so it's crucial to carry enough with you for this grueling hike. Walk back up to the trail and turn left onto the blue trail. Hike less than a quarter mile to where the trail crosses the brook. Once on the other side, there is an unmarked trail turning slightly right (instead of turning slightly left to stay on the blue trail). There is a small cairn marking the beginning of the bushwhack to Fir Mountain, but this pile of rocks might not always be there. This is an unofficial trail with no markers, so it is imperative to have a map and compass or GPS for navigation and orienteering. You may veer off the path so it is helpful to use a phone GPS to orient yourself but be sure to have a printed map as well. It is a fun challenge finding your own way there. It is about 2 miles NE from the Lean-to to the top of Fir Mountain (3620'). At the peak, you have a bit of a treasure hunt to find the gray canister hanging on a tree trunk. Make it official that you made it to the top by signing your name. One down, one to go.  

From Fir Mountain it is about 1.5 miles to Big Indian Mountain. Head north then northwest from Fir Mountain. Try to maintain the high elevation on the Catskill Divide so you don't have to climb back up the ridge. Hike west and then northwest to reach the peak of Big Indian Mountain (3700'). Find the canister, sign your name, and take a well-deserved break. After refueling, hike west to meet the Blue trail. Turn left to go south on the Blue trail for about 2.5 miles back to the Lean-to. Relax by a campfire that night and hang out the next day before returning on the Blue trail to the parking lot.

Wildlife seen: A black bear and 2 cubs, grouse, chipmunks. Stay alert and make noise along the hikes.

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