The Catskills are known for their incredible landscapes: towering mountains lush with greenery as far as the eye can see, cascading waterfalls plunging from above, and recreational trails that pass through peaceful forests and rural farmlands. See it all on your own two feet during a Catskills hiking adventure that reveals the wonder and natural beauty of the Region.
Best Hikes in the Catskills
Whether you’re taking a day trip with the family to enjoy a short hike that rewards with a serious view or thundering waterfall, or you’re a Catskills 3500 Club aspirant, see the region and the vast Catskill Park and ‘Forever Wild’ Catskill Forest Preserve from the trail and take one of these popular hikes.
A Hike for All Levels – Catskills Scenic Trail
26 Miles One Way, Easy
A converted rail trail on top of the former bed of the Ulster & Delaware Railroad, the Catskills Scenic Trail travels from Roxbury to Bloomville and features a hard-packed surface perfect for year-round recreation like hiking, horseback riding, and cross country skiing. Save for a slight 400-foot elevation change, you’ll find this is a relatively flat trail offering great walking and hiking for all ages. Look for the trail’s blue and yellow octagonal signs, and use designated parking areas to access various trailheads.
Kid-Friendly Hike – Frick Pond Loop, Mongaup State Park
2.2 Mile Loop, Moderate
This moderate loop is great for the entire family, including young kids just getting their first hikes in, and travels through a forest landscape, by meadows, and over wetlands. To get to the trailhead from Route 17 in Livingston Manor, continue for six miles on DeBruce Road before turning left on Mongaup Road. After two and a half miles, turn left onto Beech Mountain Road and continue for about a third of a mile, where you’ll find a parking area to the left and the Quick Lake/Flynn Trail Trailhead. Follow the red blazes to complete the Frick Pond Loop. This trail generally has a few very wet areas, so be prepared to get muddy, even in the dry summer season.
Waterfall Hike – Buttermilk Falls, Peekamoose Valley
100 Feet, Easy
Among the Catskill’s many waterfalls, Buttermilk Falls in Peekamoose Valley is one of the most accessible and a quick stop if you’re short on time during a visit. Located just off of Route 42 in Sundown, you’ll first see 46-foot cascading Buttermilk Falls from the road before you even begin your short hike. After just roughly five minutes, you’ll reach the base of the falls where the water cascades from Samson, Van Wyck and Peekamoose Mountains into the Rond-out Creek. Park on Route 42 and hike from there.
Challenging Hike – Hunter Mountain Fire Tower
8.2 Miles, Difficult
Reaching an elevation of 4,040 feet, the Hunter Mountain Fire Tower is one of the Catskills’ most challenging treks, and the most difficult of the Catskill Park’s five fire tower hikes. On a day hike, take in the spectacular and well deserved view from the top of the tower – on a clear day, you can see Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont – before making the descent back down to your car. If you have some time to spare, consider continuing another 3.5 miles on Hunter Mountain Loop and enjoy a night of camping at the John Robb lean-to, where you’ll find one of the best lean-to views in the Catskills. Parking is available at the DEC lot located at the end of Spruceton Road, County Road 6 in Hunter.