Hiking at Hunter Mountain in the Catskills
Hiking on a bridge near a waterfall in the Catskills

Hiking in the Catskills

Trek Miles of Trails Offering New Catskills Perspectives

Lace up your boots, pack your gear, strap on your packs, and hit the trails. With thousands of miles of scenic hiking trails to explore, the possibilities for adventure in the Catskills are endless. Climb to mountain summits, discover remote waterfalls, or take a walk through the woods and simply enjoy being in nature. The Catskill Mountains offer some of the most beautiful and diverse hiking terrains in the Northeast, making it the perfect destination for hikers of all experience levels.

No matter which path you choose, one thing is for certain; you will create a special bond with these mountains that will have you returning time and time again. With its incredible landscapes and abundant recreation opportunities, the Catskills Region is more than just a place – it's a way of life.

From short, family-friendly hikes to Catskills 3500 Club peaks (those that reach an elevation above 3500 feet), there is a trail for everyone in the Catskills. Check out these popular Catskills hikes and get inspired for your next mountain excursion!

April 2020 Notice

The DEC, in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, has closed access to all DEC-controlled fire towers across New York State until further notice. Trails and summits to the towers are still open. Additionally, Kaaterskill Falls has been closed at all access points until further notice. CDC guidelines recommend staying home to help prevent the spread of the virus. If you choose to hike during the coronavirus pandemic, please do so locally. The mountains and hiking trails will be here in the Catskills for you once this storm has passed. In the meantime, please use the below list as a guide for future Catskills travel planning! Stay safe, everyone!

13 Best Catskills Hikes

1. Giant Ledge

Offering arguably the best views in the Catskills, Giant Ledge is a moderate out and back hike with huge payoffs. Five ledges adjacent to the main trail provide scenic overlooks that will leave you speechless. To maximize the experience, pack overnight supplies and camp out on one of the ledges. The view for stargazing and watching the sunrise is like no other. Fuel up before or after your hike at the Phoenicia Diner, located off Route 28 in Phoenicia. The roadside diner of your hipster Americana dreams (complete with a service counter), they serve trendy breakfast dishes all day, so you’ll never miss out!

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 3.75 miles
  • Route Type: Out and back
  • Elevation Gain: 975 ft.
  • Trailhead Location: Route 47, Outside Oliverea
  • County: Ulster

2. Sam's Point

This unique hike is one of many in Minnewaska State Park, but with breathtaking western views of the Catskills, an aerial view of the 180-foot Verkeerderkill Falls, wooden ladder scrambling, and ice caves – yes, you read that right, ice caves – Sam’s Point is a must see. Where else in the spring and summer can you meander through tight rock crevasses lined with ice leftover from the winter months? When you’re done, relive the experience with your trekking crew over a delicious meal at The Barnside-Conklin Catering Grill in Walden!

  • Difficulty: Moderate to Hard
  • Distance: 7.5 miles
  • Route Type: Out and back
  • Elevation Gain: 1200 ft.
  • Trailhead Location: 2589 US-44, Gardiner
  • County: Ulster

3. Ashokan Rail Trail

Opened in the fall of 2019, the Ashokan Rail Trail ("ART") is a shared-use recreational train runnin galong the northern edge of the Ashokan Reservoir between Basin Road in West Hurley and Route 28A in Boiceville. Open from sunrise to sunset year-round, the ART has provided public access to the County's scenic abandoned Ulster & Delaware Railroad cooridor without at DEP Access Permit for the first time since the Reservoir was constructed in 1911. The ART trail surface is highly compacted crushed sone ranging from 10 to 12 feet in width, and this flat trail is ADA compliant and accessible for persons with disabilities. The ART is open for non-motorized uses, including hiking, bicylcling, running, nature observation, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. 

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: 11.5 miles
  • Route Type: out and back
  • Elevation Gain: N/A
  • Trailhead Locations:
    • Woodstock Dike Trailhead located at 1285 NY-28 in West Hurley. The Trailhead entrance is 5.3 miles west of the NYS Thruway Exit 19 Traffic Circle and approximately 1,500 feet west of the Stewart's Shop (by Zena Road).
    • Ashokan Station Trailhead located at 3045 NY-28 in Shokan. The Trailhead entrance is 11.3 miles west of the NYS Thruway Exit 19 Traffic Circle across from Mountain Road.
    • Boiceville Bridge Trailhead located at 5080 Route 28A in Boiceville. The Trailhead entrance is off Route 28A approximately 16.5 miles west of the NYS Thruway Exit 19 Traffic Circle. Cold Brook Road is directly across Route 28A from this entrance.
  • County: Ulster

4. Kaaterskill Falls

Start your waterfall hike with expansive views of one of the most stunning scenes in the Catskills. At 260 feet, this towering, two-tier waterfall is the tallest in New York State – higher even than Niagara Falls! This natural wonder is the perfect destination for a day hike, and is a favorite among painters and photographers who find inspiration in the cascading water veils. Well-groomed trails and man-made stairs (lots and lots of stairs) make a once rocky hike more accessible, but the path is still steep and you’ll still want sturdy shoes. Exercise caution and do not hike past the designated trail.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: One mile to the base of falls
  • Route Type: Out and back
  • Elevation Gain: From the top of falls to base is 260 feet
  • Trailhead Location: Laurel House Road, East of Haines Falls
  • County: Greene

5. Hunter Mountain Fire Tower

Capping out at 4,040 feet, the Hunter Mountain Fire Tower is one of the Catskills’ most challenging treks and the most difficult of the five fire tower hikes in the Catskill Park. That said, the reward is well worth the journey. Ascend the fire tower and take in the spectacular scene which, on a clear day, includes views of three states: Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Vermont. Once you descend, continue another 3.5 miles on Hunter Mountain Loop to enjoy a picturesque night of camping at the John Robb lean-to. Parking is available at the DEC lot located at the end of Spruceton Road, County Road 6 in Hunter.

  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Distance: 8.2 miles
  • Route Type: Loop
  • Elevation Gain: 1,898’
  • Trailhead Location: Route 6, Hunter
  • County: Greene

6. Frick Pond Loop

One of the best family-friendly hikes in the Catskills, including for young kids and seniors, Frick Pond Loop travels through varied terrain, including forest, meadows, and wetlands. While boardwalks have been installed in particularly wet areas of the trail, this can be a muddy hike in spring or following heavy rain. It is a great place to see local wildlife, especially birds. The trailhead is located on Beech Mountain Road. Look for the Quick Lake/Flynn Trail Trailhead and follow the red blazes to complete the Frick Pond Loop.

  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Distance: 2.2 miles
  • Route Type: Loop
  • Elevation Gain: N/A
  • Trailhead Location: Beech Mountain Road, Willowemoc Wild Forest
  • County: Sullivan

7. Neversink River Unique Area

Put in the work and enjoy the reward on this rolling 8.4-mile hike through the Neversink Unique Area. The majority of this loop follows along the banks of the Neversink River, so the soothing sound of water is almost always within earshot. A waterfall trifecta, you can follow off-shooting trails to enjoy views of Denton Falls, High Falls, and Mullet Brook Falls. While this is a marked and maintained trail, with several backcountry bridges installed for your convenience, the abundance of surrounding water can make trails slippery and muddy, so come equipped with sturdy, waterproof hiking shoes!

  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Distance: 8.4 miles
  • Route Type: Loop
  • Elevation Gain: N/A
  • Trailhead Location: Katrina Falls Road, South of Rock Hill
  • County: Sullivan

8. Bramley Mountain Trail

Recently built by the Catskill Mountain Club, Bramley Mountain Trail leads to the 2,817-foot summit of Bramley Mountain, where there are open views, a former fire tower, and an abandoned bluestone quarry. Impressive cliffs and caves line the footpath between the summit and the quarry. Access the trail by parking on Glen Burnie Rd, one mile south and uphill of its intersection with County Road 18, Delhi.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 4 miles
  • Route Type: Loop
  • Elevation Gain: 756 ft.
  • Trailhead Location: Glen Burnie Road
  • County: Delaware

9. Catskills Scenic Trail

Hike, bike, ski, or horseback ride the Catskill Scenic Trail. Formerly the Ulster & Delaware Railroad, the converted Catskills Scenic Trail travels from Roxbury to Bloomville and features a level surface perfect for year-round recreation. Whether you choose to explore a portion or tackle the whole thing, this trail is perfect for all ages and affords views of rolling mountains, lush forests, and rich farmland. Use designated parking areas to access various trailheads and follow the trail’s blue and yellow octagonal signs.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: 26 miles
  • Route Type: Out and Back
  • Elevation Gain: Gradual 400’
  • Trailhead Location: Railroad Avenue, Stamford or Route 10, Bloomville
  • County: Delaware

10. Mount Tremper

Officially known as Tremper Mountain, this Catskills beauty is located near the hamlet of Phoenicia. Although its summit is much lower in elevation than the High Peaks of the Catskills, it is still considered one of the tougher hikes and usually trekked by those with hiking experience. Hikers should use caution while traversing this mountain as there are commonly black bears seen at the top and at least one confirmed rattlesnake den close to the trail. There is a parking lot close by to the trailhead.

  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Distance: 6 miles
  • Route Type: Out and Back
  • Elevation Gain: 2,740 ft.
  • Trailhead Location: 412 Mt Tremper-Phoenicia Rd, Phoenicia
  • County: Ulster

11. Overlook Mountain

If you enjoy hikes that end at the top of a fire tower, Overlook Mountain is for you. It is considered to be a moderate to difficult hike, so ensure you are well prepared with the proper experience and gear. The view from the fire tower span across the Hudson River Valley over to the Berkshires, Taconics, and Litchfield Hills. The parking lot has limited space, so get there early to claim your spot. Also, watch out for rattlesnakes and keep your pets close and on-leash.

  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Distance: 5 miles
  • Route Type: Out and Back
  • Elevation Gain: 3,000 ft.
  • Trailhead Location: 353 Meads Mountain Rd, Woodstock
  • County: Ulster

12. North Point

Within the North-South Lake Campground, hikers can find all kinds of hiking trails. Shorter hikes will bring you to the Catskill Mountain House site and provide views of beautiful vistas, while the more moderate hikes take you higher up to places such as Boulder Rock and Sunset Park. These hikes are great for families looking for some exercise with rewarding finishes. Consider making it a Catskills camping trip and stay at the campground as well.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 3 miles
  • Route Type: Out and Back
  • Elevation Gain: 797 ft.
  • Trailhead Location: Located within North/South Lake Campground on N Lake Rd
  • County: Greene

13. Balsam Lake Fire Tower

Balsam Lake Mountain is the 17th highest peak within the Catskills Mountain Range. There is a fire tower at the summit that provides 360-degree views of the surrounding mountainous area. The tower is open to hikers during the summer months only for safety purposes. Balsam Lake Mountain is a common place for winter adventurers to go snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, although the views from the top are limited when the fire tower is closed.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 6 miles
  • Route Type: Out and back
  • Elevation Gain: 3,731 ft.
  • Trailhead Location: Near Balsam Lake Lodge on Turnwood Rd, Livingston Manor
  • County: Delaware

No matter which trail you choose, hiking in the Catskills will leave you feeling accomplished and closer to nature. You’ll want to bring your camera to capture the breathtaking views, but don’t forget to live in the moment so you walk away with lasting memories. Whether you’re in the Catskills from NYC for the day or adding a hike onto a camping trip or family vacation, please remember to pack a paper map and exercise caution while on the trails. While every mountain in the Catskills is unique, one thing is for certain – you’ll always come back to hike another one!

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