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Catskill Backcountry Information

Updated Summer 2017

For a safe and enjoyable outdoor experience on public lands in the Catskills and New York City's Catskill/Delaware Watershed, please consult DEC's regular updates, seasonal notices and general information below.

Current Conditions

  • During these hot summer months be prepared by bringing plenty of water with you into the back country. Tributaries and springs can dry up during periods of warm weather and low rainfall so plan ahead by bringing as much water as you will need for your hike or camping trip. If you do procure water from the back country, be prepared to treat it before consumption.

Road and Trail Updates

  • Kaaterskill Falls, Town of Hunter: All hikers are reminded to use extreme caution in this area throughout the year due to steep trails and numerous cliffs and drop offs. Hikers are reminded to stay on the marked trails and note that rocks can be very slippery when wet. Please enjoy the views from the base of the lower falls and from the viewing platform at the top of the falls.
  • Hunter Mountain Fire Tower Rehabilitation. Public access to the Hunter Mountain fire tower will be restricted beginning July 10 as DEC rehabilitates the tower in preparation for its 100th birthday this year. The fire tower will be closed to public access on weekdays during the construction period, but will remain open on weekends. The trails to the summit of Hunter Mountain will remain open during the construction period. Construction is expected to last about a month and DEC will make another announcement when construction is complete. The tower is being painted and a new roof is being installed as part of the rehabilitation. For additional information about the project, contact the DEC Forestry office in Stamford at 607-652-7365.
  • Windham Blackhead Wilderness. DEC has built a new lean-to near the existing Batavia Kill lean-to. The original Batavia Kill lean-to will remain available through the summer season, after which it will be dismantled.
  • Slide Mountain Trails. The Adirondack Mountain Club's professional trail crew will perform trail work on the Burrough's Range trail and the Curtis-Ormsbee trail on Slide Mountain during the summer. They will be working mid-July through early-August. Please use caution when approaching the trail crew and give them a wide berth.
  • Fire Towers. Catskill Mountain fire towers and observer's cabins are open for visitation throughout weekends in the summer. Volunteers make this possible by staffing the fire towers and cabins from Memorial Day through Labor Day throughout the summer.

Regulatory Updates

  • Peekamoose Riparian Corridor, Sundown Wild Forest, Town of Denning: Special Regulations have been in effect for a segment of the Rondout Creek and environs since May 25, 2016. The regulations are intended to protect public safety and the environment. More about the Special Regulations

Emergency Contacts

Report back county emergencies, such as lost or injured hikers, and wildland fires to the DEC Forest Rangers at 518-408-5850 or call 911.

Camping

yellow and black camp here marker
  • Backcountry camping is allowed year-round on state forest preserve lands at designated sites (look for yellow and black "Camp Here" markers) and anywhere below 3500 feet as long as you are at least 150 feet from a waterbody (lake. pond. stream), road or trail.
  • Backcountry camping for more than three nights, or in a group of ten or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger. See the Forest Ranger roster for Ulster and Sullivan Counties or the Forest Ranger roster for Delaware and Greene Counties.
  • Campfires are allowed below 3500 feet in elevation. Use only dead or downed wood.
  • Campgrounds: All eight of DEC's campgrounds are closed for camping for the season. The campgrounds remain open for day uses such as hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice fishing. The campground parking lots at Mongaup Pond, Woodland Valley, and Kenneth L Wilson are open. The parking lot at North South Lake Campground is closed for the season. (2/1/17)
  • Reservations for the 2017 camping season can be made online as far as 9 months in advance.

Catskill Fire Towers

There are five fire towers in the Catskill Park that are staffed by volunteer "summit stewards" and open to visitors on weekends between May and October. Get more information on each fire tower.

DEC Backcountry Regulations

Backcountry Safety and Trail Etiquette

Access to NYC DEP Lands in the Catskill Forest Preserve

Hiking, fishing, hunting, trapping and boating are allowed on some of NYC Department of Environmental Protection's DEP) watershed lands that are marked with DEP signs stating "Entry by Permit" or "Public Access Area."

A free DEP Access Permit is required for areas marked "Entry by Permit". You can get your Access Permit online and print it out for immediate use. (see Links Leaving DEC's website at right). Access permits are good for five years.

To help outdoor enthusiasts find access to the City's lands and waters, DEP has developed an interactive mapping tool that provides information on the size, location, topography, and allowable uses at each recreation site in the Hudson Valley and Catskills. A link to the interactive RecMapper tool can be found on DEP's recreation webpage (see Links Leaving the DEC website at right)

  • Hiking: Allowed at Public Access areas and at other upland watershed lands with a valid access permit
  • Fishing: Allowed on the Schoharie, Ashokan, Neversink, Rondout, Cannonsville and Pepacton Reservoirs with DEP access permit and DEC fishing license. All boats must be steam cleaned and registered with the NYC DEP.
  • Non-motorized boating: Canoes, kayaks, row boats and sail boats are allowed on the Schoharie, Cannonsville, Pepacton and Neversink reservoirs from Memorial Day through Columbus Day with a DEP access permit. All boats must be steam-cleaned before use in the reservoirs.
  • Hunting and Trapping: Allowed on most Public Access areas and "Entry by Permit" areas in season, with NYC DEP access permit and appropriate license from DEC.