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Willowemoc Wild Forest

hikingAccessible recreationprimitive campinglean-tofishingHuntingtrappinghorseback ridingbicyclingCross-country skiingsnowshoeingsnowmobilingParkingportable toilet icon key

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.



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

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.

A waterfall in dappled sunlight in the forest
Old Hunter Road falls.

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.

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.


View across Long Pond
Long Pond

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

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.

Many perennial streams provide excellent trout fishing, especially the Willowemoc, where brown and brook trout abound.


primitive camping

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

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.

Cross-country Skiing & Snowshoeing

cross-country skiingsnowshoeing

General information on cross-country skiing and snowshoeing includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations

Willowemoc Wild Forest is open for cross-county skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. There are designated or no maintained ski trails, however cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are permitted on all hiking trails.

The foot trails from Frick Pond trailhead are particularly suitable for cross-county skiing. 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).



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

With more than 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.



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

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.


General information on animals includes links to information about birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects that inhabit or migrate through the state.

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 in the wilderness.

Accessible Features

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

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

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 portable toilet.


Black Bear Road Trailhead is in the town of Denning, Ulster County, two miles northwest of Claryville. (41.974783°N, 74.578967°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)

Long Pond Trailhead is in the town of Neversink, Sullivan County, on Flugertown Road, three miles northeast of Willowemoc. (41.938183°N, 74.647883°W) 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. (41.9573491°N, 74.6912198°W) 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. (41.9573491°N, 74.6912198°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)

Waneta Lake is accessed from two small parking lots along Beaverkill Road (County Route 151) , in the town of Rockland, Sullivan County, five miles north of Livingston Manor.

  • Upper Parking Area: (41.967478°N, 74.829728°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)

  • Lower Parking Area: (41.961779°N, 74.832058°W) Google Map (leaves DEC website)

Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety

All users of Willowemoc 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 in the Catskills to enjoy the outdoors responsibly; minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts with other backcountry users.

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. If you have any questions about the UMP, please contact us at r3.ump@dec.ny.gov.

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.

Catskill Regional Tourism Office (leaves DEC website), Sullivan County Tourism (leaves DC website) and Ulster County Tourism (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 the DEC website) for information on outdoor guides.