The Giant Ledge hike near Big Indian, New York, is perfect if you're looking for an adventure.
This moderately challenging hike takes approximately 2-4 hours to complete depending on how far you go, so it's perfect for a weekend outing. It's the perfect hike for those looking for a bit of a challenge.
The views are worth it, though! There are a couple of different ledges along the way (five ledges to be exact) where you can stop and take in the spectacular views. So it is a good idea to get here early to take your time on the hike and enjoy the journey.
Giant Ledge is a spectacular hike in the Catskills. Considered a moderately challenging route, it takes an average of 2-4 hours to complete. The first half of the hike is rocky and steep, and you will encounter some challenging inclines along the way. This route ranges from a moderate hike to a strenuous hike the further you travel. There are several giant ledges where you can stop and take in the views. Hikers should be aware that there are a couple of tricky scrambles where poles can be beneficial.
The views from Giant Ledge are absolutely stunning. You can see for miles in every direction, and the sunsets are incredible. This is definitely one of the best hikes in the Catskills for views over the Woodland Valley and the Catskill Mountains.
Giant Ledge is also a popular place for rock climbing, and you might see climbers during your hike.
This hike is very popular with snowshoers in the winter, making it the perfect hike year-round.
Getting to Giant Ledge and Panther Mountain
Giant Ledge is located in Phonecia, NY, approximately 2 1/2 hours outside NYC. It is easy to get to. Just take I-87 north to Exit 19. Continue on NY-28 W to Oliverea Road. Make a left at Oliverea Rd, and you will be at the trailhead.
Giant Ledge Trailhead Parking
The hike starts at the parking lot on Oliverea Road, just after the hairpin turn in Big Indian. There are only a few spots in the parking area, so you may see people parking alongside the road. For that reason, it is crucial to arrive early to get a spot.
The hike starts here. Follow the yellow markers. You will see a sign saying that the giant Ledge is only 1.5 miles. That doesn't sound too bad, right?
How long is Giant Ledge?
The Giant Ledge is approximately 3.2 miles roundtrip. If you are interested in extending your hike, you can continue on to Panther Mountain, which extends your hike to 6.9 miles roundtrip.
How long does it take to hike Giant Ledge?
This hike usually takes between 2-4 hours to complete. It all depends on the hiker, their fitness level, and how far they are willing to go. Many will do the Giant ledge hike in approximately 2 hours. However, if you choose to extend to Panther Mountain, be ready for a 4 plus hour hike roundtrip.
What time should I start my hike?
It's best to get here early in the morning before the sun comes up so you can enjoy your giant ledge hike without having to wait in the scorching sun. This hike has become very popular, especially on the weekends. If you have the opportunity to go during the weekdays, there will be fewer crowds, and you will have the trails (and ledges) to yourself.
Extend your hike: Panther Mountain Trail
If you are looking for more views, the giant Ledge leads to Panther Mountain. If you choose to extend, it will be 6.9 miles roundtrip from giant ledge trailhead to panther mountain. Panther Mountain is challenging, but it is not without its rewards. The views from Panther Mountain are incredible, and you will truly feel like you are on top of the world.
Panther Mountain Scenic Lookout
As you make your way on the Panther Mountain trail, you will encounter a few scenic lookouts. Nothing compares to the Panther Mountain Summit, and however, these will give you a sneak peek of what to expect.
Panther Mountain Summit
Once you make your way to the summit of Panther Mountain, you will find a flat rock where you can just hang out and chill for a bit. The views from here are absolutely amazing, and I mean, you can see them forever.
Once again, if you brought a group of friends, this would be a great spot to stop and admire what is around you before heading back down. It's not an easy trip back down so maybe take your time up there. This would be a good time to grab a snack, refuel and prepare for the hike back down.
After spending some time on top of Panther Mountain, head back down to giant Ledge. Make sure to follow the same markers that you came from. There are several trails, so if you came up on the yellow trail (Phoenicia East Branch Trail), for example, make sure that you are heading back down on the yellow trail.
How long is Panther Mountain Hike?
The Panther Mountain Hike is an additional mile long, and there is an elevation gain; however, it is a short distance rewarded with fantastic views in the Alpine Forest.
Tips for Hiking Giant Ledge
Hiking Giant Ledge is a great experience. But it is even better if you are coming prepared. That is why it is essential to keep a few things in mind before you head out to Giant Ledge.
What should I wear?
When hiking Giant Ledge, wearing comfortable clothes and shoes is essential. The giant ledge trail can be somewhat tricky and rocky at specific points. If you wear the wrong shoes, your hike will make or break.
I would also recommend wearing a light jacket. There are certain portions of the trail where you may start to feel a temperature change. Layering is essential, especially in the spring and fall months, when the days can start off on the cooler side. A lightweight packable jacket like this one would be a great to bring along.
Protect yourself from the sun
Make sure to bring sunscreen (this is one of my faves), sunglasses, and maybe even an umbrella. Since giant Ledge is more of a strenuous hiking trail, you will be up in the elevation, which means more exposure to the sun. Applying some sunscreen before you start your hike is essential so that you can enjoy your giant ledge hike without having to worry about having a burnt face.
What should I take?
The giant ledge hike is not easy, which means it is essential to take some snacks and water with you. Most hikers prefer energy bars or gummies for their hikes. Water is also super important if you don't want your giant ledge hike to turn into a giant headache and giant dehydration.
Did I mention water?
It is essential to stay hydrated when hiking the giant ledge trail. I cannot emphasize it enough! Make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your hike. It will not only keep you hydrated, but it will also make the giant ledge trail more enjoyable. Keep in mind that there are little to no areas to fill up your water bottle, so make sure to come prepared. These lightweight collapsible water bottles are great.
Giant Ledge Catskills Camping
If you want to take your adventure a bit further, you can spend the night right in Giant Ledge. The giant ledge camping area is spacious, so it's easy to find a spot. The temperatures here are cooler than their more southern counterparts, so if you're looking to get out of the heat, this is a good spot for that as well.
When you get up to the Ledge, you will find about 3 primitive campsites where you can camp out for the night. Keep in mind that there are no amenities or water up there, so be sure to pack everything you need for the night.
Woodland Valley Campground
Woodland Valley Campground is the nearest to the trailhead and has about 65 campsites, some located right on the Woodland Stream. In addition to this proximity to amazing hikes in the Catskill Forest Preserve, including the Slide Mountain Trail, you will find tent and trailer sites, a picnic area with tables and grills, flush toilets, and hot showers.
Where to stay in the Catskills
The Catskills is a popular hiking destination; however, if camping is not your style, there are plenty of places to stay right in the area.
You can choose to make the village of Phonecia your home base where you will find several hotels and bed & breakfasts.
Phonecia Lodge is a popular spot for hikers looking for a place to stay near the giant ledge hike. This lodge is located in the heart of the Catskills, and it is a real treat for those looking for a true mid-century style Catskills experience.
The lodge offers rooms, cottages, and suites, making it the perfect spot for families and couples alike.
You can find rates and availability for Phonecia Lodge here.
The Graham & Co. Hotel
The Graham & Co. Hotel is another excellent place to stay in the Catskills. Located in Phonecia, The Graham & Co. is a 20 room hotel on 3 acres. In the summer you can enjoy the swimming pool and hammocks too. In the winter, the hotel's proximity to area ski mountains makes it the perfect spot for those that want to enjoy winter activities.
You can find rates and availability for the Graham & Co. Hotel here.
Emerson Resort & Spa
After a great hike, there is nothing better than spending the rest of your day at the spa. And Emerson Resort & Spa does not disappoint.
The Emerson Resort & Spa is located just outside of the village of Phoenicia and is excellent for anyone that is looking for a resort weekend in the heart of the Catskills.
You can find rates and availability for the Emerson Resort & Spa here.
Post-Hike Fun: Things To Do In Phoenicia
So now that you had a chance to take in the giant ledge view and maybe even the panoramic views on Panther's Summit, it is time to explore what the Hudson Valley and Catskills mountains have to offer.
The village of Phonecia is the perfect place to spend your weekend as there is plenty to do after your day hike.
After your giant ledge hike, here are some things to do in and around Phonecia.
– Explore Woodland Valley Falls, located right behind the giant ledge hiking trail.
– Stop by the Phoenicia Barn & Brewery to taste Esopus Creek brewed beer and cider. You can find out more about the brewery here.
– If you enjoy bowling, check out Catskills Lanes, where you can also play billiards and giant Jenga after your game.
Giant Ledge Panther Mountain Hike
Whether you make it to the last Ledge at Giant Ledge or summit Panther Mountain, this is a hike that will not disappoint. Experienced hikers and new hikers will definitely appreciate this hike. And the views are absolutely stunning.
This is definitely an exciting hike for all with steep sections, steep ascents, and large rock scrambles.
The giant ledge hike is a good hike that can take anywhere from 3 to 4 hours round trip. While it's not for everyone, this beautiful spot will be worth your time if you're looking for an exhilarating day outdoors!
Hike safe, and I will see you on the trail.
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