Catskill Fire Towers, Kaaterskill Falls, DEC Campgrounds and facilities are closed to the public during the pandemic

Fire Towers are closed

The NY DEC is closing access to DEC-controlled fire towers to the public. Trails and the summits to the towers remain open, but the towers themselves present a potential risk with multiple people climbing the stairs, in close quarters, unable to appropriately socially distance, and using the same handrails.

Campgrounds and other facilities are closed

All state-operated campgrounds, cabins, and cottages are closed to overnight visitation through at least April 30. New York State has also suspended all new camping, cabin and cottage reservations for the 2020 season until further notice. They will be reassessing the situation as time passes.

All indoor visitor facilities, such as nature centers, environmental education centers, visitor centers, and historic houses are closed to the public. This includes restrooms, in most cases.

Kaaterskill Falls Closed to the Public until further notice

The NYSDEC has announced the closing of all trails and parking areas leading to the highly popular Kaaterskill Falls area. From the DEC:
“Kaaterskill Falls is an extremely popular destination for the recreating public which consists of several short access trails leading from large parking areas to the falls and the viewing platform.  The falls, viewing platform and access trails are relatively small areas which concentrate recreationists such that proper social distancing, as recommended for reducing the spread of COVID-19, is not practicable. Kaaterskill Falls experienced heavy use on the weekend of March 21 and 22 and again on April 4th and 5th. With school closings and non-essential workers staying home, we anticipate an unacceptable level of use will also occur during weekdays.  Kaaterskill Falls is one of the State’s highest use areas and will continue to be subject to intense public use if actions are not taken.”

In addition, the Kaaterskill Falls area sees a higher incidence of accidents requiring response from DEC and local first responders. This need is an added burden on the first responders, who are already taxed by the increased work due to the current COVID-19 health crisis.

Quoting the DEC announcement: “the parking areas at Molly Smith, Laurel House Road and Scutt Road will be barricaded and closed to public use. All access trails leading to the falls will be closed.  We will also close the trail that leads from the Escarpment Trail to the bottom of the falls.  Parking areas, access trails and information kiosks will be signed with appropriate signage indicating that the Kaaterskill Falls area is temporarily closed.  Signage will include information regarding the temporary closure due to COVID-19 concerns and will include COVID-19 protocols. ”

Please respect these temporary regulations and share them with your hiking friends.  By following guidelines that help limit community transmission of the COVID-19 virus and allow emergency personnel to concentrate their efforts on addressing these public health issues we can help protect ourselves and our communities in this time of crisis.