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Hiking in Catskill Park

Wild Forest


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Located in the southwest corner of the Catskill Park, Willowemoc Wild Forest contains about 14,800 acres of state land. With an extensive trail network to several ponds and its proximity to Mongaup Pond Campground, this wild forest is popular for hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, backpacking, mountain biking, snowmobiling, dog sledding and cross-country skiing.

There are two lean to shelters located within the wild forest with one on Quick Lake and the other on Long Pond. There is also a primitive campsite on Frick Pond for those looking for a wilderness backpacking camping experience. Waneta Lake features an accessible fishing pier and picnic table. Compared to other sections of the rugged Catskills, this wild forest does not feature any major hills with a change of elevation over 1000 feet.


The Willowemoc Wild Forest is eighteen miles north of Liberty and nine miles northeast of Livingston Manor, the closest village with amenities. It lies largely within the northern Sullivan County towns of Neversink and Rockland, with small appendages in the towns of Denning and Hardengburg in Ulster County. The Wild Forest surrounds the Mongaup Pond State Campground and borders the Big Indian Wilderness. Beaverkill State Campground is also located close by.


Trailheads with parking include:

Black Bear Road (Wild Meadow Road) Trailhead is in the town of Denning, Ulster County, two miles northwest of Claryville. This road is rough. The GPS coordinates are N41 58.487 W74 34.738 for the DEC pull off.

Long Pond Trailhead is in the town of Neversink, Sullivan County, on Flugertown Road, three miles northeast of Willowemoc. The GPS coordinates are N41 56.291 W74 38.873 for the parking area.

Mongaup Pond Campground is in the town of Rockland, Sullivan County. From NY 17 (Quickway) at Exit 96, take County Roads 81 and 82 east to DeBruce, turn left onto Fish Hatchery Road and drive north three miles to the campground. A day-use fee must be paid to enter the campground May-October, when it is open. GPS coordinates are N41 57.490 W74 41.485.

Frick Pond Trailhead is in the town of Rockland, Sullivan County. Follow directions to Mongaup Pond Campground (see above). From Fish Hatchery Road, turn left onto Beech Mountain Road (one mile south of campground), then drive one-quarter mile. The GPS coordinates are N41 56.973 W74 42.388.

Two small parking lots along Johnson Hill Road (County Route 151) provide access to Waneta Lake, in the town of Rockland, Sullivan County, five miles north of Livingston Manor. Primitive camping is allowed at six designated campsites on the far shore of the lake.


Hiking in Willowemoc Wild Forest

All trails are open to foot travel. Approximately fifteen miles are for hiking only, such as the Mongaup-Hardenburg Trail to the Big Indian Wilderness.

Some suggested hikes from the NY DEC:

Frick Pond Loop From Frick Pond Trailhead, follow red DEC markers northwest one-half mile to Frick Pond. A loop around the pond can be made by following the yellow DEC markers (one mile around the pond; 2.1 miles round trip).

Hodge Pond Loop From Frick Pond Trailhead, follow the blue DEC markers of Flynn Trail north to Beech Mountain Nature Preserve, a private inholding with a NYS easement for a public footpath. The trail passes by the south shore of Hodge Pond, about 2.4 miles from the parking area, before returning to State Forest Preserve. Continuing westward, the Flynn Trail ends at Junkyard Junction (3.2 miles). From here, one can return to the trailhead parking lot via the red DEC markers of Quick Lake Trail, passing by Frick Pond. Total distance, 6.3 miles.

Quick Lake Trail Follow red DEC markers from Frick Pond Trailhead past Frick Pond, then up and over a long ridge before descending to Quick Lake. Distance from trailhead parking lot to Frick Pond, 0.5 miles; Junkyard Junction, 3.1 miles; Quick Lake, 7.2 miles.

Long Pond Trail follows orange DEC snowmobile markers from the trailhead on Flugertown Road northeastward one mile to Long Pond.

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.


Primitive camping is allowed at sites marked with round, yellow, DEC markers or throughout wild forest lands at least 150 feet from any trail, road, spring, stream, pond, lake, or other water source. A camping permit is required for groups of ten or more people. A permit is also required to camp at the same site for more than three consecutive nights.

Campfires are allowed, but only dead and down fuel may be used. In an established campsite, use the existing fire ring. Before you leave, completely extinguish the fire. Never leave a fire unattended. The use of camp stoves is encouraged.


Fishing opportunities exist on several water bodies:

Long Pond (15 acres), Frick Pond (6 acres) and Quick Lake (4 acres), all likely contain brown bullhead, golden shiner and chain pickerel. They may also provide seasonal habitat for brook trout.

A New York State easement allows public fishing on Hodge Pond (19 acres). It likely contains the same fish species as the State ponds.

Waneta Lake (30 acres) contains pumpkinseed, yellow perch, brown bullhead, chain pickerel, and largemouth and smallmouth bass. Waneta Lake is on a detached Forest Preserve parcel west of the main unit.

Mongaup Pond (122 acres) contains pumpkinseed, yellow perch, white sucker, yellow bullhead, golden shiner, smallmouth bass and chain pickerel. Ice fishing is allowed. A small launching area is open to hand-carried boats. Gasoline motors are prohibited; electric motors are allowed on boats with current registration. The pond has a fishing dock accessible to persons with disabilities. Many perennial streams provide excellent trout fishing, especially the Willowemoc, where brown and brook trout abound.

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