Hunter-West Kill Wilderness
- Open for recreation: Year-round
- Fee: Free
- Contact Information:
- DEC Region 4 Stamford Office (M-F 8:30AM - 4:30PM): (607) 652-7365; firstname.lastname@example.org
- Backcountry Emergency (Search, Rescue & Forest Fire): 518-408-5850 or dial 911
- Location: Town of Lexington and Hunter, Greene County and Town of Shandaken, Ulster County
- Wildlife Management Unit: 3A
- Map: View Hunter-West Kill Wilderness Map - PDF (3.99 MB) || Google Earth || State Lands Interactive Mapper
The 19,250-acre Hunter-West Kill Wilderness in the Catskill Forest Preserve is a high elevation east-west ridge that lies between the West Kill Creek to the north and the Esopus Creek to the south. Hunter-West Kill Wilderness is a remote mountainous location of more than 19,250 acres. The terrain is very steep in places with elevations ranging from 1,000 feet to 3,880 feet.
There are five named mountain peaks - West Kill (3,880'), North Dome (3,610'), Sherrill (3,540'), Balsam (3,340'), and Sheridan (2,220'). This area serves as watersheds for two New York City water supply reservoirs, the Schoharie and the Ashokan.
General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations
Devil's Path (25.2 miles, red markers)
Devil's Path is a popular and challenging trail extending from the Prediger Road Parking Area in Indian Head Wilderness west to County Route 6 (Spruceton Road) in the Hunter-West Kill Wilderness. The trail crosses the summits on Indian Head, Twin, Sugarloaf, Plateau, and West Kill mountains. About 11.4 miles of the trail traverse the northeast portion of the Hunter-West Kill Wilderness.
Diamond Notch Trail (2.7 miles, blue markers)
The Diamond Notch trail was once a road converted into a trail in the 1930s. The trail extends south from Spruceton Road through Diamond Notch, and descends down to connect with Diamond Notch Road. At 1 mile, the trail passes Diamond Notch Falls and the intersection with the Devils Path. At 2.2 miles, the trail passes a lean-to and the diamond notch.
Hunter Mountain Trail (1.7 miles, yellow makers)
The Hunter Mountain Trail connects the Devil's Path to the summit of Hunter Mountain. The Hunter Mountain Fire Tower is on Rusk Mountain Wild Forest.
Becker Hollow Trail (2.2 miles, yellow markers)
The Becker Hollow Trail extends from NYS Route 24 to the Hunter Mountain Trail. The Becker Hollow Route offers the shortest trail up Hunter Mountain. It is also the second hardest route to the top and gets very steep near the top.
General information on backcountry camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations
Hunter-West Kill Wilderness has three lean-tos, Diamond Notch, Devil's Acre and John Robb.
- Diamond Notch lean-to is located on the Diamond Notch Trail 0.5 miles south of the falls and features a fire pit and privy.
- Devil's Acre lean-to is located on Devil's Path near the intersection with the Hunter Mountain Trail and features a fire pit but does not have a privy.
- John Robb lean-to is located off the Spructon Trail in the Rusk Mountain Wild Forest.
At-large camping is also allowed. Camping must be at least 150 feet away from the nearest road, trail, or body of water. Camping for more than three nights or in groups of ten or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger. Camping is prohibited above an elevation of 3,500 feet in the Catskills, between March 21 and December 21.
Cross-Country Skiing & Snowshoeing
General information on cross-country skiing and snowshoeing includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations
Hunter-West Kill Wilderness is open to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. There are no groomed or maintained trails, however cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are permitted on all hiking trails.
General information on fishing includes how-to and safety tips and links to seasons, rules & regulations.
The nearby West Kill follows Spruceton Road. The West Kill flows for 11 miles before entering Schoharie Creek just below the village of Lexington. Wild trout are found throughout the stream, but they are most abundant in the upper 8 miles. Wild brown trout can be found in all sections of the stream, but rainbow trout are found mostly in the lower reaches, and brook trout numbers increase as one heads upstream. In addition, approximately 700 yearling brown trout are stocked in the lower 3 miles of stream.
A pamphlet is available with maps of state lands and public fishing rights that depicts the Public Access for Fishing the West Kill (PDF- 512 KB).
East- Central NY Fishing provides information on fishing in the Catskills and links to top fishing waters, stocking lists, public fishing access and waters open to ice fishing listed by county.
Hunting and Trapping
Hunting and trapping are allowed during appropriate seasons. The main game species and furbearers found on the property include deer, bear, bobcat, coyote, and fisher.
General information on watchable wildlife includes tips for viewing wildlife and links to other watchable wildlife locations.
The Catskills are home to an abundance of wildlife. With both larger mammals (including deer, bear, and bobcat) as well as smaller mammals (including porcupine and fisher) the Catskills have several unique habitats. In addition to the many mammals found in the Catskills, hundreds of species of birds can also be found.
This remote wilderness area includes Hunter Mountain - second-highest peak in the Catskills - and three other summits within the Catskill High Peaks Bird Conservation Area. Outdoors enthusiasts as well as wildlife are drawn to dazzling and often steep terrain.
Photo credits: Larry Bifaro, NYSDEC
Wildlife to Watch
Where to Watch
- Trails (ranging from gentle to difficult)
There are 6 parking areas that can be used to access the Hunter-West Kill Wilderness.
All coordinates provided are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.
South Diamond Notch Parking Lot is located on Diamond Notch Road, 1.2 miles north from its intersection with NYS Route 214. (42.147861°N, 74.264659°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Becker Hollow Parking Lot is located on NYS Route 214, 1.3 miles southwest from its intersection with NYS Route 23A. (42.181339°N, 74.196415°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Broadstreet Hollow Parking Lot is located on the north end of Broadstreet Hollow Road, 2.6 miles northeast from its intersection with NYS Route 28. (42.139445°N, 74.330835°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Diamond Notch Parking Lot is located near the end of Spruceton Road, 6.8 miles from its intersection with NYS Route 42. (42.182385°N, 74.269997°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Devils Path Trailhead Parking Lot is located on Spruceton Road, 3.8 miles from its intersection with NYS Route 42. (42.192019°N, 74.323847°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Shaft Road Parking Lot is located off of Route 42 on Shaft Road. (42.166173°N, 74.408334°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety
Practice Leave No Trace (leaves DEC website) principles when recreating in the Catskills to enjoy the outdoors responsibly; minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts with other backcountry users.
Camping is prohibited above an elevation of 3,500 feet in the Catskills, between March 21 and December 21.
How We Manage Hunter-West Kill Wilderness
DEC manages these lands in accordance with the management activities described in the Hunter Mountain Wild Forest Unit Management Plan (UMP). In addition to management objectives, the UMP contains detailed information on natural features, recreational infrastructure, geology, natural & human history, habitats, wildlife, fisheries and much more.
Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information
DEC Lands and Facilities
- Rusk Mountain Wild Forest
- Windham Blackhead Range Wilderness
- Colgate Lake Wild Forest
- Elm Ridge Wild Forest
- Devil's Tombstone Camprgound
- Indian Head Wilderness
- Slide Mountain Wilderness
Lodging and dining opportunities, as well as gas, food and other supplies can be found in the nearby communities of Hunter, Tannersville, and Woodstock.
Catskill Regional Tourism Office (leaves DEC website), Greene County Tourism Office (leaves DEC website) and Ulster County Tourism Office (leaves DEC website) can provide information about other recreation, attractions and amenities in this area.
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.