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Willowemoc Wild Forest

Willowemoc locator map

hikingAccessible recreationprimitive campinglean-tofishinghand boat launchHuntingtrappinghorseback ridingbicyclingCross-country skiingsnowmobilingParking icon key

  • Open for recreation: Year-round
  • Fee: free
  • Contact Information:
    • DEC Region 3 Office: (845) 256-3000, email
    • Backcountry Emergency (Search, Rescue & Forest Fire): 518-408-5850 or dial 911
    • State land law enforcement: 1-844-DEC-ECOS (1-844-332-3267)
  • Location: Neversink and Rockland, Sullivan County; Denning and Hardenburgh, Ulster County
  • Wildlife Management Unit: 3A and 3H
    View Willowemoc Wild Forest Map - PDF (3.96 MB) || Google Earth || State Lands Interactive Mapper
A waterfall in dappled sunlight in the forest
Old Hunter Road falls.

Located in the southwest corner of the Catskill Park, Willowemoc Wild Forest contains more than 14,800 acres of Forever Wild Forest Preserve. A 40-mile trail network provides access to six ponds, and a world-class trout stream, the Willowemoc. Although hilly, the terrain is not as rugged as the Catskill High Peaks. The Willowemoc Wild Forest has the most expansive snowmobile system in the Catskills.

Hiking

hiking

All trails are open to foot travel. Approximately fifteen miles are for hiking only, such as the Mongaup-Hardenburgh Trail to the Big Indian Wilderness.

Some suggested hikes:
Frick Pond Loop
From Frick Pond Trailhead, follow red DEC markers northwest one-half mile to Frick Pond. A loop around the pond can be made by following the yellow DEC markers (one mile around the pond; 2.1 miles round trip). There is parking for the trail on Beech Mountain Rd. (N41.9573491, W-74.6912198) Google Map (Leaves DEC website)

Hodge Pond Loop From Frick Pond Trailhead, follow the blue DEC markers of Flynn Trail north to Beech Mountain Nature Preserve, a private inholding with a NYS easement for a public footpath. The trail passes by the south shore of Hodge Pond, about 2.4 miles from the parking area, before returning to State Forest Preserve. Continuing westward, the Flynn Trail ends at Junkyard Junction (3.2 miles). From here, one can return to the trailhead parking lot via the red DEC markers of Quick Lake Trail, passing by Frick Pond. Total distance, 6.3 miles.

Quick Lake Trail Follow red DEC markers from Frick Pond Trailhead past Frick Pond, then up and over a long ridge before descending to Quick Lake. Distance from trailhead parking lot to Frick Pond, 0.5 miles; Junkyard Junction, 3.1 miles; Quick Lake, 7.2 miles.

Fishing

fishing
hand boat launch
View across Long Pond
Long Pond

Long Pond (15 acres), Frick Pond (6 acres) and Quick Lake (4 acres), all likely contain brown bullhead, golden shiner and chain pickerel. They may also provide seasonal habitat for brook trout.

A New York State easement allows public fishing on Hodge Pond (19 acres). It likely contains the same fish species as the State ponds.

Waneta Lake (30 acres) contains pumpkinseed, yellow perch, brown bullhead, chain pickerel, and largemouth and smallmouth bass. Waneta Lake is on a detached Forest Preserve parcel west of the main unit.

Mongaup Pond (122 acres) contains pumpkinseed, yellow perch, white sucker, yellow bullhead, golden shiner, smallmouth bass and chain pickerel. Ice fishing is allowed. A small launching area is open to hand-carried boats. Gasoline motors are prohibited; electric motors are allowed on boats with current registration. The pond has a fishing dock accessible to persons with disabilities. Many perennial streams provide excellent trout fishing, especially the Willowemoc, where brown and brook trout abound.

See the statewide angling regulations and special fishing regulations for Sullivan County.

fishing pier
Accessible recreation
Two people fish at an accessible fishing pier
Waneta Lake accessible fishing pier

Waneta Lake has an accessible fishing pier which offers fishing opportunities for largemouth bass, chain pickerel, yellow perch and pumpkinseeds. Waneta Lake also offers picnicking with an accessible picnic table. There is an accessible information kiosk, accessible parking and a seasonal accessible port-a-john.
Directions to Waneta Lake: (41.96737, -74.829102) Waneta Lake is located in Sullivan County off of Johnson Hill Road (Sullivan County Route 151/Beaverkill Road), about 3.5 miles north of Livingston Manor. Take exit 96 off of State Route 17.

Long Pond Trail follows orange DEC snowmobile markers from the trailhead on Flugertown Road northeastward one mile to Long Pond.

Camping

primitive campinglean to

Primitive camping is allowed at sites marked with round, yellow, DEC markers or throughout wild forest lands at least 150 feet from any trail, road, spring, stream, pond, lake, or other water source. A camping permit is required for groups of ten or more people. A permit is also required to camp at the same site for more than three consecutive nights.

Lean to overlooking a lake
The Quick Lake lean-to

There are two lean-tos, one on the western edge by Quick Lake and another by Long Pond.

Campfires are allowed, but only dead and down fuel may be used. In an established campsite, use the existing fire ring. Before you leave, completely extinguish the fire. Never leave a fire unattended. The use of camp stoves is encouraged. Visit the Primitive Camping page for more information.

Cross-country skiing

cross-country skiing

All trails are open to cross-country skiing. The foot trails from Frick Pond trailhead are particularly suitable. Different trail combinations offer skiers loops of varying lengths and degrees of difficulty, ranging from the leisurely Frick Pond Loop (2.1 miles) to the more ambitious Hodge Pond Loop (6.3 Miles), to the all-day adventure of the Quick Lake Quest (14.4 miles out and back).

Snowmobiling

snowmobiling

With over 29 miles of marked trails, Willowemoc Wild Forest hosts the most expansive snowmobile system in the Catskills. The system was developed jointly by DEC and the Sullivan County Trails Association, a local group of snowmobilers. The New York State Snowmobile Trail Grant Program provides funds for summer maintenance and winter grooming by the Sullivan County Trails Association.

Wooden bridge over a creek in the forest
Flugertown snowmobile bridge

On state lands within the Forest Preserve, snowmobiles are permitted only: 1) on trails marked by DEC as Snowmobile Trail, when they are covered with snow or ice; and 2) on frozen lakes and ponds, where access may be gained by public highways or marked snowmobile trails.

Snowmobiles are otherwise prohibited on state lands within the Forest Preserve. They are not permitted on hiking paths, woods roads, or any other trails traversing state land, unless the trails are marked with DEC's round, orange, snowmobile trail markers.

Please be considerate of others. The snowmobile trails from Mongaup Pond to Quick Lake frequently cross and occasionally share foot trails. Snowmobilers must yield the right-of-way to cross-country skiers.

Bicycling

bicycling

While there are no trails designated for bicycles, Willowemoc Wild Forest offers an outstanding variety of trails suitable for bicycles. The snowmobile trails are most appropriate, but foot trails are open to bicycles as well. Please use caution and yield the right-of-way to pedestrian or horse, regardless of where you bicycle.

Horseback Riding

horseback riding

Horses are permitted throughout Willowemoc Wild Forest, except: on marked foot trails, in Mongaup Pond Campground, or on snowmobile or cross-country ski trails covered with snow or ice.

Horseback riding is not encouraged on snowmobile trails in spring due to erosion; but riding is welcome summer and early fall. Access is best from Black Bear or Long Pond Trailheads, where there is adequate parking for horse trailers.

Directions

Black Bear Road Trailhead is in the town of Denning, Ulster County, two miles northwest of Claryville. (N41.974783, W-74.578967) Google Map (Leaves DEC website)

Long Pond Trailhead is in the town of Neversink, Sullivan County, on Flugertown Road, three miles northeast of Willowemoc. (N41.938183, W-74.647883) Google Map (Leaves DEC website)

Mongaup Pond Campground is in the town of Rockland, Sullivan County. From Route 17 (Quickway) at Exit 96, take County Roads 81 and 82 east to DeBruce, turn left onto Fish Hatchery Road and drive north three miles to the campground. A day-use fee must be paid to enter the campground May-December, when it is open. (N41.9573491, W-74.6912198) Google Map (Leaves DEC website)

Frick Pond Trailhead is in the town of Rockland, Sullivan County. Follow directions to Mongaup Pond Campground (see above). From Fish Hatchery Road, turn left onto Beech Mountain Road (one mile south of campground), then drive one-quarter mile. (N41.9573491, W-74.6912198) Google Map (Leaves DEC website)

Two small parking lots along Beaverkill Road (County Route 151) provide access to Waneta Lake, in the town of Rockland, Sullivan County, five miles north of Livingston Manor. Primitive camping is allowed at six designated campsites on the far shore of the lake.
Upper Parking Area: (N41.967478, W-74.829728) Google Map (Leaves DEC website)
Lower Parking Area: (N41.961779, W-74.832058) Google Map (Leaves DEC website)

Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety

Practice Leave No Trace principles (see "Links Leaving the DEC Website" at right) when in the Catskill to minimize the impact on the environment and respect other backcountry users.

All visitors to Willowemoc Wild Forest must follow all State Land Use Regulations and should follow all Outdoor Safety Practices.

How we manage Willowemoc Wild Forest

DEC manages this property in accordance with the management activities described in the Willowemoc Wild Forest Unit Management Plan PDF, 325 KB. In addition to management objectives, the UMP contains detailed information on natural features, recreational infrastructure, geology, natural and human history, habitats, wildlife, fisheries and much more.

Nearby Amenities and Attractions

DEC Lands and Facilities:

  • DEC Mongaup Pond Campground is surrounded by the Willowemoc Wild Forest and would be a convenient base for hiking and other types of recreation.
  • The Catskill Fish Hatchery in the village of Livingston Manor raises brown trout for stocking waters across the state.
  • The Big Indian Wilderness is adjacent to the north

Gas and food can be found in the hamlet of Livingston Manor about 4 miles to the southwest.

The Catskill Regional Tourism Office (see Links Leaving the DEC Website at right) and the Ulster and Sullivan County Tourism Offices can provide information about other attractions, recreation and amenities in the area.

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