Willowemoc Wild Forest
Located in the southwest corner of the Catskill Park, Willowemoc Wild Forest contains more than 14,800 acres of Forever Wild Forest Preserve. With an extensive trail network to several ponds, this wild forest is ideal for hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, backpacking, mountain biking, snowmobiling, dog sledding and cross-country skiing.
The Willowemoc Wild Forest is eighteen miles north of Liberty and nine miles northeast of Livingston Manor, the closest village with amenities. It lies largely within the northern Sullivan County towns of Neversink and Rockland, with small appendages in the towns of Denning and Hardenburgh in Ulster County. The Wild Forest surrounds the Mongaup Pond State Campground and abuts the Big Indian Wilderness.
Although generally quite hilly, Willowemoc Wild Forest does not include a named summit. Most of the terrain does not vary more than 1,000 feet in elevation.
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.
For a full listing of DEC's accessible recreation destinations, visit our Accessible Recreation Destinations page.
Directions to Waneta Lake
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.
Trailheads with parking include:
Black Bear Road Trailhead is in the town of Denning, Ulster County, two miles northwest of Claryville.
Long Pond Trailhead is in the town of Neversink, Sullivan County, on Flugertown Road, three miles northeast of Willowemoc.
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.
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.
Two small parking lots along Johnson Hill 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.
Willowemoc Wild Forest is laced with over forty miles of recreational trails. Originating from old logging roads, most trails are suitable for a variety of recreational pursuits.
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).
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.
Long Pond Trail follows orange DEC snowmobile markers from the trailhead on Flugertown Road northeastward one mile to Long Pond.
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).
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.
On state lands within the Forest Preserve, snowmobiles are permitted: 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.
All snowmobiles operated in New York State must be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Registration numbers must be displayed on both sides of the cowling.
The owner of a snowmobile operated on any public highway must have a minimum liability insurance of $10,000 for injury or death to one person; $20,000 for injury or death of two persons; and $5,000 for the damage to or for the destruction of property. Proof of insurance must be carried on the snowmobile.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 DEC's Camping page for more information.
Remember, if you carry it in, carry it out.
Hunting and Trapping
Detailed information about hunting, fishing and trapping seasons and license requirements is available on DEC's Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources pages. Hunting and trapping are traditional uses which are encouraged within the Forest Preserve. Black bear and white-tailed deer are hunted in the fall. The eastern wild turkey is hunted in spring and fall. Furbearers, including beaver, fisher and coyote, are harvested annually. Hunting is prohibited in posted areas, including the Mongaup Pond Campground, the Catskill Fish Hatchery and the DeBruce Environmental Education Camp.
Fishing opportunities exist on several waterbodies:
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 DEC's fishing, trapping and big-game hunting guides for further information, including season dates.
For further assistance:
NYSDEC Region 3
21 South Putt Corners Road
New Paltz, NY 12561
Forest Preserve Management: 845-256-3083
Forest Rangers: 845-256-3026
Law Enforcement: 845-256-3013
Mongaup Pond Campground: 845-439-4233(Mid-May through early December)