Recreational Use Regulations for the Catskill Park Forest Preserve

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation manages many public lands in New York State, including the Catskill and Adirondack State Forest Preserves and many other State Forests. For recreational purposes, hiking and backcountry camping are allowed on Forest Preserve lands in the Catskill Park as well on other State Forest areas. Generally, camping is prohibited on Unique Areas, Wildlife Management Areas and other categories of state land. Hiking is generally permitted anywhere but special requirements apply to mountain biking and horseback riding.

For information about specific land areas contact the DEC Regional Office responsible for the area (listed below). For information about state campgrounds visit the Department’s web site

The general rules and guidelines for the use of New York State’s public lands are as follows:

  • Hiking parties are limited to no more than 20 persons.  A permit must be obtained for larger groups.  (The recommended limit is 12 in wilderness areas.)
  • Except where marked by a “Camp Here” disk camping is prohibited within 150 feet of roads, trails, lakes, ponds, streams or other bodies of water.
  • Camping groups of ten or more persons or stays of more than three days in one place require a permit from the New York State Forest Ranger responsible for the area.
  • Lean-tos are available in many area on a first come first served basis. Lean-tos cannot be used exclusively and must be shared with other campers.
  • Use pit privies provided near popular camping areas and trailheads. If none are available, dispose of human waste by digging a hole 6″-8″ deep at least 150 feet from water or campsites. Cover with leaves and soil.
  • Do not use soap to wash yourself, clothing or dishes within 150 ft of water.
  • Drinking and cooking water should be boiled for 5 minutes, treated with purifying tablets or filtered through filtration device to prevent instances of giardia infection.
  • Fires should be built in existing fire pits or fireplaces if provided. Use only dead and down wood for fires. Cutting standing trees is prohibited. Extinguish all fires with water and stir ashes until they are cold to the touch. Do not build fires in areas marked by a “No Fires” disk. Camp stoves are safer, more efficient and cleaner.
  • Carry out what you carry in. Practice “leave no trace” camping and hiking.
  • Keep your pet under control. Restrain it on a leash when others approach. Collect and bury droppings away from water, trails and camp sites. Keep your pet away from drinking water sources.
  • Observe and enjoy wildlife and plants but leave them undisturbed.
  • Removing plants, rocks, fossils or artifacts from state land without a permit is illegal.
  • The storage of personal property on state land is prohibited.
  • Carry an approved flotation device for each person aboard all watercraft.
  • Except in an emergency or between December 21 and March 21, camping is prohibited above an elevation of 3,500 feet in the Catskills.
  • At all times, only emergency fires are permitted above 3,500 feet in the Catskills.

NYSDEC Regional Offices for the Catskill Region:

Region 3 (Sullivan & Ulster counties)
21 South Putt Corners Road
New Paltz, NY 12561-1696
(845) 256-3000

Region 4 (Otsego, Delaware, Schoharie & Greene counties)
Route 10
Stamford, NY 12167-9503
(607) 652-7365


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