The Mountain Top is a mountainous area in the High Peaks region of the legendary Catskill Mountains. Four of the five highest peaks in the Catskills are located here. In the Town of Hunter, Hunter Mountain at 4,040 ft. is the second highest peak in the Catskills and the western most extension of the challenging ridge known as “Devils Path.”
The Catskill Mountain House (right), opened in 1824, prospered through the nineteenth century. Steamships, stagecoaches and later railroads brought hoards of restless city inhabitants escaping the oppressive city heat for the coolness and tranquility of the mountains. The advent of World War I and the automobile curtailed the summer tourist trade. Tourism was revived by the ski industry in the late twentieth century when the beauty and adventure of the Catskill High Peaks in winter was discovered and promoted.
The Mountain Top Historical Society is located on Route 23A, also known as the Rip Van Winkle Trail. This is the site of the old Loxhurst Hotel (left) built in the late 19th century. The property underwent several transformations and was used as a dude ranch in the later half of the 20th century when the Red Barn to the rear of the property was built. The main hotel building housed La Cascade restaurant (aptly named for the nearby Falls). A fire destroyed the building and in the mid-nineties the property was gifted to the Mountain Top Historical Society. A building that once served as the laundry was moved to the front of the campus and fully renovated in 2005 for use as a Visitor Center. The Visitor and Art Trail Center’s porch and decorative features are reminiscent of the late 19th century Victorian style when traveling to the Mountain Top was both popular and fashionable.