Hiking Trails in the Catskills Mountains of NY

TUESDAY, 2 AUGUST 2011
link to original article here: http://www.abc-of-hiking.com/news/201108/hiking-trails-in-the-catskills-mountains-of-ny.asp

The origin of many hiking trails in NY State have their roots in the Native American-made paths to various hunting grounds. The intrepid artists of the Hudson River School used these trails to find beautiful panoramas to sketch and later paint in their studios.

There is a wide variety of hiking trails ranging from the most easy such as the paved and flat like the path along the Ashokan Reservoir. to extremely difficult 3 mountain loop of Devil’s Path or the ascent to Slide Mountain.

Very Easy Trails:

• Ashokan Reservoir:
Its two long walkways provide a panorama of the Catskill Mtns and the pristine Reservoir that serves as the drinking water for NYC. Great for bicycles, walkers and wheelchairs, the two paths are beautiful stretches of wide paved paths that curve for 3 miles along the Ashokan Reservoir. To get to this wide vista, travel to Winchell’s Corners on Route 28, turn onto Reservoir Road. At the junction of “BWS road” make a left and at 28A, make another left. Travel ¼ mile and make the next left and at the end of the road is a roundabout parking area for both paths.

• Colgate Lake:
A magical hidden gem off of Rt 23A near Tannersville, this pristine, man-made lake is open for swimming, although there are no lifeguards or roped in areas so visitors need to take appropriate precautions. There is a small trail that circumnavigates the entire lake that is bowled in by mountains. Caution must be used around Colgate Lake as there can be poison ivy.

Easy NY Hiking Trails:

• Kaaterskill Falls:
The two tiered falls of 175 and 85 feet are the highest waterfalls in New York State. The lower Falls is reached by a trail beginning on Rt 23A. Driving east from Tannersville and Haines Falls, park on the area to the right before the highway makes its steep descent down the mountain. Then, walk carefully along the road until you reach a hairpin turn and the falls are seen on your left. To reach Kaaterskill Falls from the top, travel east on 23A and make a left onto Country Rd 18 by the Twilight Deli and then, about a mile later, a right onto Laurel House Road. Park at the end of the road and follow the trail 1/5 of a mile to a worn bank supported by wooden beams.

This is the top of Kaaterskill Falls and extreme caution must be used to descend onto the huge boulders to get a look at the valley below. We do not recommend a descent as the ground is slippery and there are many injuries, but there is a small short trail that runs to the right. Walking with care, you can get a nice side view of the falls and the natural amphitheater it has carved out over the centuries.

• Escarpment trail North-South Lake:
The short hike to the site of the Catskill Mountain House provides the reward of incredible vistas of the Hudson Valley and the Berkshires beyond. Longer and more strenuous hikes can bring you to such spots as Artist’s Rock, Sunset Rock, Newman’s Ledge, Boulder Rock, and the Kaaterskill Hotel and Laurel House sites. Follow the well-marked trails and maps to lead you where you want to go. Swimming is permitted at North-South Lake, but only when there is a lifeguard present.

• Diamond Notch Falls:
This hike has an amazing variety of indigenous, native plants and flowers that grow along the path. Please note that any digging or picking of greenery is strictly prohibited. The walk is steep in places, but not difficult to navigate. The waterfalls add a special interest and there is a wooden bridge above the falls that offers a different view of the cascade. Travel up Rt 214 to Lanesville, turn left onto Diamond Notch Rd and park at the very end. The trail starts at the far right corner of the lot.

Moderate NY Hiking Trails:

• Hunter Mountain:
For a unique experience, take the Sky Ride from the Hunter Mtn Ski Center. The lift will take you up a 1600 foot vertical from the valley floor. A 2 mile hike from there will take you to the fire tower with beautiful views of the Catskill High Peaks, but this is a steep challenge. Less active hikers may want to enjoy the view from where the Hunter Sky Ride leaves you off and just hike back down to the base.

• Overlook Mountain:
This popular hike is located a couple of miles north of the Village of Woodstock. Take Rock City Rd north from the Village Green all the way to the top of Overlook Mountain where it will change its name to Mead’s Mt. Road. Parking is on the right and the trail is to the left. The climb is steep and uphill for 2.5 miles but the 360 degree view from the fire tower at the mountaintop is the best in the Catskills! Also note an abandoned ruin of a stone hotel from the 1930s about 2 miles up. Great for dramatic photographs!

• Giant Ledge-Panther Mt. Trail:
This trail starts out easy with yellow markers, switches to the more challenging blue markers after the spectacular view of Giant Ledge, which is located roughly 1.6 miles up the trail and afterwards, follows a North-South Ridge for another mile.

Difficult NY Hiking Trails:

• Slide Mountain
Another tough hike, but the Slide Mountain Hiking Trail is also the most rewarding! With an elevation of 1780 ft and a 5.4 mile round trip, you will need lots of water and good hiking boots. It’s the highest peak in the Catskills, so the view from the summit is unparalleled. To get there, drive to the end of Woodland Valley Road off Rt 28 near Phoenicia and travel to the very end to the Woodland Valley Campground. The trail head will be on the left with parking on the right.

• Devil’s Path:
Also called Devil’s Tombstone, this is known as the toughest hiking path in the Eastern U.S. Hikers are drawn to it as it allows them to cover 5 peaks in one excursion. This self guided trail can be done in 3 sections or combined. The first section, Plateau Mtn, is 8 miles roundtrip and culminates in a nice view over to Hunter Mtn. Then the trail levels out (the plateau) and the highest point is at the far eastern end about 2 miles away. Continue on a short distance from the summit and a view of Sugarloaf Mtn opens up. The Hunter Mtn Section is 4.15 miles; the West Kill Mtn Section is 7 miles for a total of 24.20 miles of hiking. The best access is to drive from Phoenicia 8 miles north on Rt 214 and park at the Devils Tombstone parking area on the left. The trail head starts on the right.

Whatever your chosen skill level, it will be easy to find just the right hike in NY’s Catskills. Make it a weekend getaway and enjoy all the Catskill have to offer.

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