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Sundown Wild Forest

icon for hiking with two hikers with walking sticksFish icon showing white fish and hookIcon of hunter aiming a gunPrimitive camping icon with tentBlack and white icon of person in wheelchairBlack and white icon of a mountain bike on a rocky slopeBlack and white icon of a person on a snowmobileBlack and white icon of a person on a horseBlack 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

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

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.

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. Anglers should check the statewide fresh water fishing regulations, and the special fishing regulations for Sullivan and Ulster Counties.

Camping

black and white icon of a tent for primitive camping

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

The Peekamoose Valley Camping Area provides opportunities for accessible camping, hiking, picnicking and fishing. There is a .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.
Directions to Peekamoose Valley Camping Area: In Boiceville, take Route 28A south for about 3 miles to West Shokan. Turn right onto Ulster County Route 42 (Watson Hollow Road). Follow Route 42 west for about 13 miles.

Mountain Biking

black and white icon with mountain bike on a rocky hill

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 above.

Snowmobiling and Horseback Riding

black and white icon of a person on a horse
black and white icon of a person riding a snowmobile

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.

View the snowmobiling web page for general information on snowmobiling in New York.

Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety

The public must abide by all state land use regulations when recreating on the forest preserve or conservation easement lands open to the public.

Clean your boat and equipment - help stop the spread of aquatic invasives.

Don't move firewood - protect our forests from invasive insects.

Hiking safety tips

Observe all campfire safety practices. Use only dead and down wood. Don't leave garbage in the fire pit.

Driving 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.

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).

To Red Hill Fire Tower:
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)

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.

To Mongaup Pond:

From Route 17 West (quickway) to Exit 96 at Livingston Manor; make a right off the ramp then make a left onto Old Route 17, make first left onto County Road 81 & 82, 6 miles to DeBruce; turn left at signs on Mongaup Road, 3 miles to campsite.From Route 17 East to Exit 96, turn left at bottom of ramp onto DeBruce Road. Refer to above directions from here. There is also an accessible observation deck on the water with picnic tables.

How we manage Sundown Wild Forest

DEC currently manages these lands in accordance with activities described in the Sundown Wild Forest Unit Management Plan.

Nearby Areas and Attractions

The Sundown Wild Forest is bordered on the north by the 47,442 acre Slide Mountain Wilderness and on the west by the 14,870 acre Willowemoc Wild Forest, which includes the Mongaup Pond State Campground (163 tent and trailer sites, picnic area with tables and grills, picnic pavilion rental, pay phones, flush toilets, hot showers, trailer dump station, recycling center, wheelchair accessible, sand beach, boat launch. Environmental and recreational programs from July to September.) The Vernooy Kill State Forest (about 2,500 acres) abuts the Sundown Wild Forest to the southeast. The Vernooy Kill is another trout stream of note in this region.

Ulster County Tourism (800-342-5826), Sullivan County Tourism (1-800-882 CATS) and the Rondout Visitors Center (1-800-331-1518) 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.