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Sundown Wild Forest

icon for hiking with two hikers with walking sticksFish icon showing white fish and hookhunting Primitive camping icon with tenticon of person in wheelchairbikingBlack and white icon of a person on a snowmobilehorseback ridingBlack and white icon of a fire towerIcon for parking with white P on black background icon key

image showing location of Sundown Wild Forest

view from a mountaintop of a large group of tall, forested peaks
The view from Hoopole Mt. near Ashokan
High Point.

The 30,100-acre Sundown Wild Forest covers a large swath of the southeast Catskills, including several ridges and 10 mountains over 2,000 feet. Sundown features an impressive mix of natural features - mountains, waterfalls, valleys and rivers - rich with trout streams, hiking destinations, hunting opportunities and snowmobile trails. Hike to the Red Hill fire tower for an unsurpassed view of the Catskill high peaks and Rondout reservoir.

Featured Activities

Hiking

black and white Icon showing two hikers with walking sticks and backpacks

General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations

Kanape Brook trail to summit of High Point Mt..Starts at the Kanape Trailhead on County Route 42 (Peekamoose Road). A popular hiking trail (red markers) follows the woods road before turning and climbing to the summit of 3,080-foot High Point Mountain, approximately 7 miles round trip (5.4 miles round trip in the Valley, another 0.8 miles to the summit).

Repeated fires have created a ridge top blueberry heath with impressive westerly views of the Rocky-Balsam Cap-Friday Mountain ridge, especially adjacent Hoopole Mountain. A good view of the Ashokan Reservoir and the Rondout Valley framed by the Shawangunk Ridge is available from a large blueberry patch, a short but hilly bush walk to the northeast.

A waterfall cascading over rocks in the forest
One of many Peekamoose Valley
waterfalls

Vernooy Kill Falls. A snowmobile-equestrian-multiple use trail starts at the trailhead on Upper Cherrytown Road in the Town of Rochester, passes over the Vernooy Kill and Balsam Swamp to Greenville and returns via Spencer/Trails End Road in an 11.2-mile loop. The most popular destination is the Upper Falls of the Vernooy Kill. Here, the water drops about 60 feet in a series of small pools and falls. Below the falls, a 15-20-foot tall stone wall alongside the stream was part of the "Cornelius" Vernooey Mill complex which operated from the early 1700's until 1809.

Peekamoose Trails. From Peekamoose Valley, a 4.3-mile trail leads west to views on 3,800-foot Table and Peekamoose Mountains. East, it's roughly 8 miles to Vernooy Kill Falls (on the blue marked Long Path). Water cascading down Samson, Van Wyck and Peekamoose Mountains gathers speed and drops into the Rondout Creek through a series of spectacular waterfalls along Peekamoose Road, County Route 42.

Denman Mountain At 3035 feet, Denman Mountain is the second highest peak in Sullivan County. area near Grahamsville and Route 55 has a gently sloping trail with many old woods roads to explore. A 7-mile snowmobile-horse trail circles the mountain (segments are suitable for mountain biking). Parking is available at the Furmans and Glade Hill Road/Moore Hill Road intersection.

Fire Tower

black and white icon of a fire tower

General information on fire towers includes historic and current uses of fire towers and links to other locations with fire towers

The sixty-foot Red Hill fIre tower sits atop 2,980-foot Red Hill. It affords a panoramic view of the Catskill peaks to the west and north, and the Rondout Reservoir from behind Denman Mountain. Follow the yellow-marked Red Hill Tower Trail from Coons Road (formerly Dinch Road) just outside of Claryville-a moderate, three-mile, round-trip hike. The Red Hill Fire Tower is open most weekends when staffed by volunteers from Memorial Day through Columbus Day. On all other days, the tower is open to just below the cab.

Fishing

black and white icon of a fish and hook
Wooden bridge over a swiftly flowing stream in the woods
The Kanape Brook Trail bridge.

General information on fishing includes how-to and safety tips and links to seasons, rules & regulations

The Rondout Creek stays cold all year and is the largest fishable stream in the area, with stocked and wild brook trout, as well as a few wild brown trout. A series of small parking lots along the north side of Peekamoose Road provide access to 4.5 miles of the creek. The second largest trout stream in the area is the Vernooy Kill in the Towns of Rochester and Wawarsing (partially within the Vernooy Kill State Forest). The Kanape and South Hollow Brooks are small, but both have native trout populations. Mettacahonts Creek and its feeder streams contain trout, even though the upper tributaries may dry out in summer.

Camping

black and white icon of a tent for primitive camping

General information on primitive camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations

Peekamoose Valley The Peekamoose Valley (County Route 42 in the Town of Denning) is a popular rustic camping area (undeveloped, no vehicle access to most campsites, no running water, no garbage pickup, no picnic tables, and limited port-a-potty toilets). Camping is restricted to designated campsites marked with the camping symbol. There are three areas open to camping and one trailer field. Please contact the Forest Rangers (845-240-6790) for required camping permits at least two weeks in advance for group camping, trailer field sites, and stays of more than 3 nights.

The following rules apply:

  • Lower Field: Camping is restricted to designated sites. Two group sites are available. All other sites are restricted to a maximum of 9 people and 3 tents.
  • Middle Field: The middle field camping sites are each limited to 9 people and 3 tents. No group camping.
  • Upper Field: Camping is restricted to designated sites, between Peekamoose Road and the Rondout Creek. Two group sites are available. All other sites are limited to 9 people and 3 tents.
  • Trailer Field: Camping in this area is by permit only, and is limited to trailers. The two accessible campsites located within the Trailer Field are equipped with fire rings, accessible picnic tables and a nearby seasonal accessible port-a-john.

Accessible Recreation

An accessible trail at the Peekamoose Valley Camping Area
An accessible trail at the Peekamoose
Valley camping area.
Accessible recreation icon with person in a wheelchair

General information on accessible recreation includes links to other locations with accessible recreation opportunities and information on permits for motorized access.

The Peekamoose Valley Camping Area provides opportunities for accessible camping, hiking, picnicking and fishing. There is a 0.25-mile accessible trail that leads to a streamside picnic area and accessible fishing pier. Two accessible campsites are located within the Trailer Field and are equipped with fire rings and accessible picnic tables. A seasonal accessible port-a-john and an accessible informational kiosk are available nearby.

Biking

biking

General information on biking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations

The first 2.4 miles on the old Kanape woods road are suitable for mountain bikes. Sections of the Vernooy Kill Falls and Denman Mountain Snowmobile-Multiple Use Trails are also suitable. See Snowmobiling and Horseback Riding below and the Hiking section.

Snowmobiling

black and white icon of a person riding a snowmobile

General information on snowmobiling includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations

An 11.2 mile snowmobile-equestrian trail loop starts at the parking lot on Upper Cherrytown Road, passes over the Vernooy Kill and Balsam Swamp to Greenville and returns via Spencer/Trails End Road.

A 7-mile snowmobile-equestrian trail circles Denman Mountain. Parking is available at the Furmans and Glade Hill Road/Moore Hill Road Trailhead. Part of the trail is on Moore Hill Road (0.6 miles year-round, 1.78 miles seasonal). Snowmobile trails at Denman Mountain are maintained by volunteers.

Horseback Riding

horseback riding

Sundown Wild Forest features equestrian trails that are utilized by snowmobiles in the winter. See snowmobiling for trail descriptions.

Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety

All users of Sundown Mountain Wild Forest must follow all State Land Use Regulations and should follow all Outdoor Safety Practices for the safety of the user and protection of the resource.

Practice Leave No Trace (leaves DEC website) principles when recreating on state land to enjoy the outdoors responsibly; minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts with other users.

Directions

To Kanape Trailhead:
Take Route 28 from Kingston or Boiceville to 28A (wraps around the southern side of the Ashokan Reservoir, New York City's water supply) to Watson Hollow Road (Co. Rte 42), then 3.75 miles to the Kanape Parking lot and information board (on your right). Trail (red markers) crosses road just downhill of the parking lot and then crosses a wooden footbridge. Trail register is just beyond. 41.935792°N, 74.328114°W, Google Maps (leaves DEC website)

To Vernooy Kill Trailhead:
Take State Route 209 to Cherrytown Road to Upper Cherrytown Road. The parking lot is on the right on Upper Cherrytown Road. Park and cross the road to the trail, which at first climbs up a steep hill on the old woods road, now a snowmobile trail). 41.871867°N, 74.369789°W, Google Maps (leaves DEC website)

To Red Hill Fire Tower Parking Area:
Take State Route 209 to State Route 55 to a right on County Route 153 (bordering the west side of the Rondout Reservoir, just before Grahamsville). Continue on Route 153 for no more than 3 miles, make a left on Sugarloaf Road and proceed about 4 miles to Red Hill Road. Make a sharp left on Red Hill Road and an immediate right onto unpaved Dinch Road for 1 mile to the trailhead parking on the left side. If the downhill roadbed is in poor condition, parking at the Red Hill-Dinch Road intersection is recommended. (Route 55 can also be taken east from State Route 17 in Liberty) 41.930293°N, 74.507349°W, Google Maps (leaves DEC website)

To Peekamoose Valley Primitive Campsites and Trails:
Take Route 28 from Kingston or Boiceville to 28A (wraps around the southern side of the Ashokan Reservoir, New York City's water supply) to Watson Hollow Road (Co. Rte 42), then continue south past the Kanape Trailhead. The Peekamoose Mt Trailhead, Trailer Field and Campsites will be on your right several miles down. As an alternative, take State Route 209 to State Route 55 to a right on County Route 153 (bordering the west side of the Rondout Reservoir, just before Grahamsville), then continue on Route 153 (Sundown Road) till it becomes Route 42 (Peekamoose Road). Campgrounds and trailhead on your left. 41.91590°N, 74.443422°W, Google Maps (leaves DEC website)

How We Manage Sundown Wild Forest

In August 2008, DEC finalized the revision of the Catskill Park State Land Master Plan (CPSLMP). In the CPSLMP, the Sundown Wild Forest was designated through the re-classification of two other Forest Preserve units: the Claryville-Sundown-Sholam Wild Forest and the Peekamoose Valley Wild Forest.

DEC currently manages these lands in accordance with activities described in the Claryville-Sundown-Sholam Wild Forest Unit Management Plan (UMP) and the Peekamoose Valley Wild Forest UMP. In addition to management objectives, the UMPs contains detailed information on natural features, recreational infrastructure, geology, natural & human history, habitats, wildlife, fisheries and much more. If you have questions or would like to obtain a copy of either UMP, please contact us at r3.ump@dec.ny.gov.

Nearby Areas and Attractions

DEC Lands and Facilities

Catskill Regional Tourism Office (leaves DEC website), Ulster County Tourism(leaves DEC website) and Sullivan County Tourism (leaves DEC website) can provide information about recreating in this area and other amenities. Use the links provided near the bottom of the right column to access their websites.

Numerous guide books and maps are available with information on the lands, waters, trails and other recreational facilities in this area. These can be purchased at most outdoor equipment retailers, bookstores, and on-line booksellers.

Additional information, outdoor equipment, trip suggestions and guided or self-guided tours may be obtained from outdoor guide and outfitting businesses. Check area chambers of commerce, telephone directories or search the internet for listings.

Consider hiring an outdoor guide if you have little experience or woodland skills. See the NYS Outdoor Guides Association (leaves DEC website) for information on outdoor guides.