You want long, strenuous, intense climbs? Got ‘em. You want serene and relaxing strolls through gently rolling terrain? Got ‘em. Towering ancient hemlock ravines, waterfalls, fern glades, or rocky ledges? Got ‘em. How about rail trails, carriage roads, trailless peaks for bushwacking? Got all of them too. The Catskills offer a real smorgasbord of hiking opportunities and experiences. Set off on your own or contact a local hiking club to go with a group. Whatever appeals to your hiking taste, the Catskills serve it up!
Pictured is a view from the Andes Rail Trail
Distances are round trip unless otherwise noted
Rail trails and other level trails are perfect for families with young children and anyone who wants a less strenuous walk in the country
- Andes Rail Trail (2 miles on railbed or 4 miles if you include the hiking spur) 5 miles. It’s scenic, historic, level and located right downtown in the quaint village of Andes. The Bullet Hole Spur hiking trail is a terrific addition if you want more of a challenge, or like to do a little interval work. It packs a lot of scenery in a short distance with mildly strenuous sections and lots of level spots to recover. This trail opened in the spring of 2013 to rave reviews. 266 Depot Street, Andes, 1/4 mile west of the flashing light on SR 28. #3
- Catskill Scenic Trail 26 miles* between Bloomville and Grand Gorge. This trail offers many lovely views and flat, natural surfaces for great cycling (mountain bike recommended), cross country skiing, snowshoeing, joggging and easy walking. Can be accessed from CR 10 in Bloomville, South Kortright, Hobart, Stamford and Grand Gorge. Stamford RR Station parking is at 21 Railroad Ave., 2 blocks from the SR 23 intersection. #7
- Ashokan Reservoir. 5 miles. Paved trail with spectacular views of many of the Catskill high peaks and this beautiful body of water. Go south 2 miles on Reservoir Rd. from SR 28 in Shokan. Follow SR 28A to parking areas located either east or west of the intersection. #14
- Boulder Rock and Split Rock Loop. 1.8 miles. Take in the Hudson Valley vistas from the former Catskill Mountain House site and get a taste of the Escarpment Trail. From SR 23A in Haines Falls, turn north on CR 18. Bear right, then go 2.3 miles to park. Note: Use the South Lake parking area. Admission fee is charged from Memorial Day until Columbus Day. At other times park at the lot outside the gate and walk east past the lake. #18
- Parksville O & W Rail Trail. 3.2 miles. A brand new rail trail in the hamlet of Parksville. Shady walk along a creek with a small waterfall. From SR 17 in Parksville, turn onto Old Rt. 17 and go 1.3 miles to the trailhead at the junction with Fox Mountain Rd. #4
- Rock Rift Rail Trail 7.8 miles. A new rail trail added to the Finger Lakes Trail system, alongside the Cannonsville Reservoir — Click here for full details and maps
Try some easy/moderate trails!
- Kelly Hollow. 4 mile loop. Hike through majestic hardwoods and dark, quiet evergreens, following a cascading stream. Yellow trail. From SR 28 in Arkville, go south on CR 49/Dry Brook Rd. 6.1 miles. Turn right on Mill Brook Rd. and go 5 miles to the parking area on the left. #8
- Shavertown Trail. 2.3 miles to pond and back. Spectacular view and lovely pond after only one moderately strenuous mile. A tenth of a mile north of the intersection of CR 1 and SR 30 in Andes, near the Shavertown Bridge. Park at the boat launch parking area and walk north on CR 1 to the trailhead. #20
- Vernooy Kills Falls. 3.6 miles. Follow an old road as it gradually ascends Cherrytown Mountain to a series of waterfalls that drop approximately 30 feet in four stages. Blue trail. From the intersection of Cherrytown Road and Upper Cherrytown Road in Rochester, bear right onto Upper Cherrytown and go 3.1 miles to the parking area on the right. #12
- Dutcher Notch Waterfall from Colgate Lake. 6.4 miles round trip to waterfall. 8.5 to notch. Easy trail to streams, an arching bridge and and a waterfall. From CR 23C in East Jewett go east on CR 78 1.7 miles to the 3rd parking area. #15
- Frick Pond Loop, Mongaup State Park. 2.2 mile loop. Easy traveling through beautiful conifer forest, meadows and wetlands. From CR 81/82 (east) in Livingston Manor go 6 miles and turn left on Mongaup Rd. to Beech Mountain Rd. and go to the Frick Pond Trailhead. #6
Want a swim with that hike ?
- Big Pond to Alder Lake. 6 miles. Offers swimming at the start in Big Pond, then a lovely, moderately strenuous hike (follow the red trail out of the Big Pond parking area), to swim again at beautiful Alder Lake. Hike back to Big Pond and have another swim if you just can’t get enough. From SR30 turn onto NYC Road 9 just south of the Shavertown Bridge. Turn south on Barkaboom Rd. and go 5.4 miles to the Big Pond parking area just past the pond, about 1 mile north of the Beaverkill Rd./CR54 intersection. #5
- Belleayre Mountain and Pine Hill Lake/Belleayre Beach. Hike the 2.6 mile Cathedral Glen loop through old growth forest or the High Peaks Interpretive Trail from Overlook Lodge and then take a swim in the 6 acre lake on SR 28 in Pine Hill. #9
- Inspiration Point, Hudson River Valley Lookout. Hike and swim at nearby North-South Lake. 3.8 mile loop. Hike the southern part of the Escarpment Trail, high above Kaaterskill Clove to wonderful views of many of the high peaks. From SR 23a in Haines Falls go north on CR 18 for 2.2 miles. Turn right on Schutt Rd to the trailhead on the right. The Escarpment Trail is across the road. #17
- Crystal Lake Trails. 1.3 Mile loop. This 32 acre man-made lake is surrounded by almost 500 acres of wild forest and rolling hills and a beaver pond. Swim, Hike, See what “busy as a beaver” is all about. From SR 17 in Roscoe go south on Stewart Brook Rd., then right on Riverside Drive. Bear left onto Tennanah Lake Road (also called Hankins Rd./CR 93). After about 9 miles make a left onto Crystal Lake Rd. #2
Bucket List – Scenery so spectacular you should definitely get here!
- Giant Ledge. 3 miles. Arguably the most “bang for the buck” in the Catskills, a short hike with some huffing and puffing uphill is rewarded by breathtaking views on a series of open ledges. Park at the hairpin turn on CR 47/Oliverea Road, 4.7 miles south from SR 28 in Big Indian. #11
- Kaaterskill Falls. 3 miles. The tallest waterfall in NYS (yes, taller than Niagara Falls at 260 feet) is accessible from SR 23A. The hike is short, but the trail is often slick and muddy. Park at the pull off on SR 23A and walk carefully next to the highway and down the hill to pick up the trail at the hairpin turn. The waterfall visible from the road is Bastion Falls. #16
- Hunter Mountain. 3 miles from the top of the chair lift. Ride a chair lift to start your hike? You bet! Park at the Hunter Mountain Ski Area, and ride the chair lift to Colonel’s Chair. From there it’s a 3 mile round trip hike through towering spruce and fir forests to the 60’ fire tower. The 360 degree views from the tower will knock your socks off. Hunter Mtn. Ski Area is on SR 23A in Hunter. #13
- Bouchoux Trail and Jensen’s Ledges. 2 miles. Bluestone ledges perched 500 feet above a big bend in the Upper Delaware River. A small waterfall cascades from a rock outcropping. From CR 97, go south on Lordville Road 3 miles to Lordville. Turn left on Bouchouxville Road and go about 3 miles to the trailhead on the left at the end of a cul-de-sac. #1
- Vroman’s Nose. 1.5 mile loop. This scenic promontory juts out over the Schoharie Creek Valley. A short, steep hike to fantastic views of some of New York’s best farmland, dramatic ledges and interesting geological history. From SR 30. in West Middleburg, make a right onto West Middleburg Rd. In 0.6 miles cross Line Creek. A few hundred feet beyond the bridge is a small sign and parking area on your left. #10
- Balsam Lake Mountain Fire Tower. 7 miles round trip. A moderately strenuous hike to one of the Catskill 3500 peaks. In the summer the fire tower is open and you might meet the daughter of the last ranger to staff the tower and hear wonderful stories of when the towers were used to protect the Catskills from disaster. Follow blue markers for 2.2 miles then take the red trail right to the fire tower. You can make a loop at the top by continuing on the red trail to the intersection with the blue trail and take the blue trail left (north) back to the parking area. From SR 28 in Arkville, turn south on Dry Brook Rd./CR 49. Go 6 miles and turn west (right) onto Mill Brook Rd. Trailhead parking in approximately 2 miles on the right. #19
- Want to hike the Dry Brook Ridge Trail for an additional 19.2 miles and spend a night on the trail? Or hike one way for 9.6 miles, passing several excellent views looking westward to the Pepacton Reservoir? From SR 28 in Margaretville turn southeast onto Fair St. Then turn left on Southside Spur. Trailhead is approximately .1 miles on the right. Parking on the left. For a one way hike, spot cars at the trailhead lot described above.
Map courtesy of the Watershed Post’s Outdoor Guide, The Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce and the NY-NJ Trail Conference.