Most years, my Thanksgiving gluttony is followed by several days on the couch accompanied by  a half-dozen movies and lots of leftover sandwiches. This year, however, I spent the day after Thanksgiving trekking through snow at 3700 feet. I made sure to bring along a leftover sandwich for a summit snack, though.


The name of this spot is a bit of a misnomer – there are four or five ledges at the top, none of which are particularly giant. The view, however, is incredibly expansive, stretching for miles and miles in every direction. Though there were some flurries near the trailhead, the clouds opened up as we got to the summit to make for an immaculate vista of the Catskills at their finest: all firs and birches and oaks sprinkled with powdered sugar snow.




This hike started out in a very bizarre fashion – I managed to get my car stuck in a snowbank while trying to park. Fortunately, an SUV-driving, tow strap-yielding passerby was kind enough to pull me –a task his young children found incredibly amusing, as they watched from the back seat. We eventually made our way to the trail register to sign in, finding that there weren’t too many others on the trail that day. I can’t say I’ve done any research on the matter, but I don’t think the day after Thanksgiving is terribly popular for hiking.



One great thing about this hike is its simplicity: take the yellow trail to the blue trail, that’s it. No tricky junctions, no literal or proverbial forks in the road, and no misleading trail markers. Along the way you’ll trudge across some pretty rocky terrain, hop across a stream or two, and wander up the fairly grueling but infinitely rewarding path to Giant Ledge. You’ll know you’re at the money spot when you get there, I promise.



There are a few more viewpoints a bit further down the trail, but none are as perfect as the first one. The ground was completely covered in snow the day I went (and I foolishly left my blanket back at the trailhead) but I was able to brush off a sturdy branch to use as a makeshift seat while I ate my turkey and cranberry biscuit. Whether it’s the altitude, the exhaustion, or something else, everything tastes a whole lot better on top of a mountain.

The Slide Mountain Wilderness Area is next-level gorgeous year-round, but there’s something particularly breathtaking about it in the winter. The same can be said for much of Catskill Park and Adirondack Park, for that matter. New York had the right idea when they added a section to the state constitution defining these lands as official forest preserve, requiring property inside park boundaries to “be forever kept as wild forest lands”. Without that, we’d have a whole lot less to escape to.

To get here:  Head north on I-87 to exit 19, then west on Route 28 for 30 miles to Country Road 47. You’ll eventually see a small parking lot on the right side of the road–just try not to get stuck in the snow like I did.