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Hiking in Catskill Park
The Catskill Forest Preserve is a mountainous region in Southeastern New York State of public and private lands in Ulster, Greene, Delaware and Sullivan Counties - the "forest preserve" counties. Ninety-eight peaks over 3,000 feet high form an impressive skyline. Its blend of public and private lands is typical of large parks in Europe, where people and unique lands have coexisted for centuries.
The NY-NJ Trail Conference released the newest trail map set for the Catskills on March 13, 2013. Buy the new Catskill Trails Map Set!
The Catskill Forest Preserve is the state land within the Catskill Park. Since its creation in 1885, it has grown from 34,000 to almost 300,000 acres.
Hiking opportunities abound in the Catskill Park. There are approximately 300 miles of marked, maintained hiking trails on public Forest Preserve land. Stewardship and development of these trails is shared by the New York State Forest Rangers and local chapters of hiking clubs such as the New York/New Jersey Trail Conference and the Adirondack Mountain Club. There are 35 Catskill peaks boasting heights greater than 3500 foot elevation, and people who hike to the summits of each of these peaks earn membership in the Catskill 3500 Club.
Five Catskill peaks, Hunter, Overlook, Tremper, Balsam Lake, and Red Hill, have fire towers on their summits; remnants of an era gone by. The Catskill Fire Tower Restoration Project restored these towers, making them safe so that the excellent views and educational aspects of the towers can now be enjoyed by the public.
Both primitive and amenity camping opportunities abound in the Catskills. Primitive camping is allowed in the Wilderness and Wild Forest areas of the Catskill Forest Preserve. Wilderness camping rules include not camping within 150 feet of a trail, stream, or pond, and not above 3500 feet elevation except in winter.
Three-sided, roofed ‘lean-to’ shelters have been constructed on several Catskill backwoods trails. The NYSDEC maintains seven public campgrounds in the Forest Preserve; North/South Lake, Devils Tombstone, Kenneth Wilson, Woodland Valley, Mongaup Pond, Little Pond, and Beaverkill. These campgrounds have tent and trailer sites, restroom facilities, and other amenities varying by location. Numerous private campgrounds are scattered throughout the Catskills.
Be Prepared-Even on a day trip, take along a rain shell with a hood, a flashlight with spare batteries, a whistle, matches, map and compass, first aid kit, small tarp and extra, quick-energy food and water. Regardless of the season, dress in layers of non-cotton and wear sturdy hiking boots. Leave Word-Spell it out! Leave a copy of your itinerary and map with a responsible third party.
Winter wilderness travel requires added skills and precautions. Weather can vary greatly both from year to year and from valley to mountaintop. Be prepared to encounter snow, freezing rain and ice. Carry snowshoes and crampons.
Cotton is a poor choice for the back country. Wear wool or a synthetic material such as polypropylene, pile or thermax, which dries quickly and insulates even when wet.
Dress in layers and carry extra clothing, food and water and don't forget a hat! When planning a winter trip, stow a metal-edged shovel in your vehicle and allow for additional time should you need to either shovel in or out of a parking area. Not all DEC parking lots are maintained in the winter and drifts or plows can leave you stranded.
Hiking Opportunities in Catskill Park
|Balsam Lake Mtn Wild Forest||Big Indian Wilderness||Overlook Mtn Wild Forest||Sundown Wild Forest|
|Shandaken Wild Forest||Willowemoc Wild Forest||Dry Brook Ridge Wild Forest|
|Halcott Mountain Wilderness||Hunter Mountain Wild Forest||Kaaterskill Wild Forest||Westkill Mountain Wilderness Area|
|Blackhead Range||Devils Path||Escarpment Trail||Long Path|
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