Stony Clove Notch is a narrow pass, roughly 2,220 feet (677 m) in elevation located in the Town of Hunter in Greene County, New York, deep in the Catskill Mountains. It is traversed by New York State Route 214, although in the past the Ulster and Delaware Railroad went through it as well. The notch divides Hunter and Plateau mountains. There is just enough room for the road, and the steep, soaring slopes of both mountains are some of the Catskills' most striking scenery, with landslides and rocky cliffs visible. It sits at one end of the range of mountains known as the Devil's Path, and early visitors found it a terrifying place to visit.
Today it is a popular destination not only for tourists in the region but for outdoor recreationists as well. One of the Catskills' major hiking trails crosses the road near the notch, and ice climbers and snowboarders have lately been attracted to the cliffs and slopes in winter.
The notch divides the Schoharie and Esopus watersheds. The approach from the Schoharie to the north, where the two mountains can be seen from 214's junction with Route 23A, is characterized by a steady upward climb after the creek has been crossed, the two mountains seeming more and more immense until they just about swallow the road. Evers recommends coming this way when thunderstorms are brewing to the south if one wishes to understand attitudes such as Lanman's. "Lightning and thunder will be tossed back and forth from one mountain to the other," he writes. "And it will not be hard for a man with a normal amount of imagination to put himself in the place of his ancestors and see the Stony Clove transformed into the very Gates of Hell."
A medium-sized parking lot sits next to Notch Pond just below the notch, right where the popular Devil's Path hiking trail crosses the road (the only road crossing in its entire 24.2-mile (39 km) length). Most are bound for one of the three High Peaks in the area: Plateau, Hunter and Southwest Hunter. Potable water is available for hikers and people using the day-use facilities from several pumps next to the parking lot. The climb up Plateau offers the best chance to appreciate just how stark the notch is. After crossing the old railbed, the trail begins a steady ascent of 1,400 vertical feet (427 m) to the popular Orchard Point lookout, which offers a view across the notch to all the nearby peaks plus West Kill Mountain beyond Southwest Hunter. From there it is two miles (3.2 km) across the aptly named Plateau to the mountain's actual summit.
To the west, the ascent is not so severe, although there are some steep sections, most famously near a ledge lower down on the trail called the Devil's Portal. There are no views, although there is a nice level section traversing along the back of Hunter to the Devil's Acre Lean-to, where the Hunter Mountain Trail leads to the top of the Catskills' second-highest peak. The Acre is also the beginning of the sometimes-difficult bushwhack to Southwest Hunter.
Currently, the Long Path long-distance trail joins the Devil's Path here for the trip up Plateau after a two-mile (3 km) roadwalk. Future plans will relocate it into the deep forest, far from the highway. In winter, ice climbers can also be found here seeking thrills on the cliffs on the Plateau side via a short hike; climbing is not otherwise done much in the Catskills due to the loose sedimentary rock of the region. Snowboarders have also found the slope offers challenging wilderness runs. Hunters have also come in-season, although the topography can make the area fatally dangerous. In fall 2000 a local high school teacher was found dead after having fallen off one of the cliffs on the Hunter side during a hunt.