Windham-Blackhead Range Wilderness
- Open for recreation: Year-round
- Fee: Free
- Contact Information:
- DEC Region 4 Stamford Office (M-F 8:30AM - 4:30PM): (607) 652-7365; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Backcountry Emergency (Search, Rescue & Forest Fire): 518-408-5850 or dial 911
- Location: Towns of Cairo, Hunter, Jewett, Windham and Durham in Greene County
- Wildlife Management Unit: 3A
- Map: View Windham-Blackhead Range Wilderness Map - PDF (2.82 MB) || Google Earth || State Lands Interactive Mapper
The 18,000-acre Windham-Blackhead Range Wilderness is in the northeastern part of the Catskill Forest Preserve. The unit contains some of the highest terrain in the Catskills, including 13 peaks over 3,000 feet in elevation. Many of these peaks make up the Blackhead Mountains, which form the northeastern escarpment of the Catskill Park and are visible for many miles to the north and east.
One of the more popular hiking trails in the area, the Escarpment Trail, spans the entire unit and provides many incredible views along the way. The south end of the unit is bordered by the North-South Lake Public Campground, which has its own systsem of trails that in turn connect to other Forest Preserve lands further south.
General information on hiking includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations
Escarpment Trail (23.9 miles, blue markers)
The Escarpment Trail extends north from Schutt Road at the North South Lake Campground, through the Windham Blackhead Wilderness and west through the Elm Ridge Wild Forest, to NYS Route 23 in East Windham. The Escarpment Trail can be accessed from any of the unit's parking areas. It crosses many of the popular destinations in the unit including Windham High Peak, Burnt Knob, Acra Point, Bleackhead, Dutcher Notch, Stoppel Point, and North Point.
The south end of the unit is bordered by the North-South Lake Public Campground, which has its own system of trails that in turn connect to other Forest Preserve lands further south.
Windham High Peak (3,524') is accessed from the Peck Road Parking Area. The elm ridge trail extends 0.9 miles from the parking area to the Escarpment Trail. The Escarpment Trail ascends 1,494 feet and 2.4 miles east to the summit of Windham High Peak. There is a lean-to near the intersection of the Elm Ridge Trail and the Escarpment Trail.
Burnt Knob is accessed from the Big Hollow Parking Area. The Black Dome Trail ascends 600 feet and 1 mile to the Escarpment Trail. The Escarpment Trail ascends 300 feet and 0.8 miles west to the Burnt Knob.
Acra Point is accessed from the Big Hollow Parking Area. The Black Dome Trail ascends 600 feet and 1 mile to the Escarpment Trail. The Escarpment Trail ascends 350 feet and 0.7 miles east to the summit of Acra Point.
Elm Ridge Trail (0.9 miles, yellow markers)
The Elm Ridge Trail extends from Peck Road Parking in the adjacent Elm Ridge Wild Forest to the western-most portion of the Escarpment Trail at the northwest corner of the Windham-Blackhead Range Wilderness.
Black Dome Trail (7.5 miles, red markers)
The Black Dome Trail extends east and then north from the trailhead at the end of Barnum Road to the Escarpment Trail between Burnt Knob and Acra Point. The trail crosses over Thomas Cole Mountain (3,940 feet) at 2.9 miles, Black Dome (3,980 feet) at 3.7 miles. At 4.3 miles, the trail connects to the Blackhead Mountain Spur Trail. At 5.7 miles, the trail intersects with the Batavia Kill Trail. At 6.3 miles the trail passes the Big Hollow Parking Lot and crosses Big Hollow Road. From Big Hollow Road, it is 1 mile north to the Escarpment Trail.
Thomas Cole Mountain (3,940 feet) is accessed from the Barnum Road Parking Area. The Black Dome Trail ascends 1,903 feet and 2.3 miles from the parking area to the summit of Thomas Cole Mountain.
Black Dome (3,980 feet)
- from the north is accessed from the Big Hollow Parking Area. The Black Dome Trail ascends 1,725 feet and 2.6 miles south from the parking area to the summit of Black Dome. The trail passes the intersection with the Batavia Kill Trail at mile 0.6.
- via Thomas Cole is accessed from the Barnum Road Parking Area. The Black Dome Trail ascends 2,170 feet and 3.0 miles from the parking area to the summit of Black Dome.
- Blackhead (3,940 feet) is accessed from the Big Hollow Parking Area. The Black Dome Trail extends 0.6 miles southeast from the parking area to the intersection with the Batavia Kill Trail. The Batavia Kill Trail ascends 510 feet and 0.9 miles to the Escarpment Trail, passing a lean-to about half way. The Escarpment Trail extends 0.9 miles south, ascending 1,060 feet to the summit of Blackhead.
Blackhead Mountain Trail (0.7 miles, yellow markers)
The Blackhead Mountain Trail extends from the Black Dome Trail to the Escarpment Trail, crossing over the summit of Blackhead Mountain (3,940 feet).
Batavia Kill Trail (0.9 miles, yellow markers)
The Batavia Kill Trail from the Black Dome Trail to Escarpment Trail, south of Acra Point. It also leads to a lean-to.
Dutcher Notch Trail (1.9 miles, yellow markers)
The Dutcher Notch Trail extends from the trailhead on Storks Nest Road to Dutcher Notch, located at the junction of the Escarpment, Colgate Lake, and Dutcher Notch trails.
Colgate Lake Trail (4.3 miles, yellow markers)
The Colgate Lake Trail extends from the Colgate Lake Parking Area in the Colgate Lake Wild Forest to the junction of the Escarpment Trail and the Dutcher Notch Trail in the Windham-Blackhead Range Wilderness.
General information on backcountry camping includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations
Windham-Blackhead Range Wilderness features one lean-to, a primitive campsite and a privy, located along the Batavia Kill Trail. A second lean-to is located on the boundary of the adjacent Elm Ridge Wild Forest.
At-large backcountry camping is also allowed. Campsites must be below 3,500 feet in elevation and at least 150 feet away from the nearest road, trail, or body of water.
Camping for more than three nights or in a group of ten or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger.
Cross-country Skiing & Snowshoeing
General information on cross-country skiing and snowshoeing includes how-to and safety tips and links to rules & regulations
The Windham-Blackhead Range 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.
Hunting & Trapping
The Windham-Blackhead Range Wilderness lies at the northern edge of the Catskill Peaks ecozone. The area consists mostly of steep forested slopes with some areas of spruce and fir at the highest elevations. The extensive northern hardwood forests of the area provide habitat for a variety of wildlife species. Hunting and trapping are allowed during appropriate seasons. Game species in the area include white tailed deer and black bear. Furbearers in the area include fisher.
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 Catskills.
There are 4 parking areas and a number of trailheads and access points with road side parking that can be used to access the Windham - Blackhead Range Wilderness.
All coordinates provided are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.
Big Hollow Road Parking Area is located off of Big Hollow Road, 4.2 miles from its intersection with County Route 40. (42.288561°N, 74.114842°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Barnum Road Trailhead is located at the end of Barnum Road, 0.9 miles south of the intersection with County Route 40. (42.264021°N, 74.176722°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website) Parking at on Barnum Road is limited. In the winter the end of the road is a snowplow turn around. Please respect no parking signs.
Peck Road Parking Area is located at the end of Peck Road, 0.8 miles northwest of its intersection with Big Hollow Road. (42.296526°N, 74.169377°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Stork's Nest Trailhead is located off of Storks Nest Road, southwest from the end of the road. (42.246449°N, 74.059450°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Schutt Road Parking Area is located on Schutt Road at the North South Lake Campground. (42.200754°N, 74.058512°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Colgate Lake Trail Parking Area is located on Colgate Road (County Road 78), 1.7 miles east from its intersection with NYS Route 23C. (42.238483°N, 74.116013°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 Windham - Blackhead Range Wilderness
DEC manages part of these lands in accordance with the management activities described in the Windham High Peak 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
- Colgate Lake Wild Forest
- North-South Lake Public Campground
- Kaaterskill Wild Forest
- Elm Ridge Wild Forest
- Indian Head Wilderness
- Hunter - West Kill Wilderness
Dining opportunities, as well as gas, food and other supplies can be found in the nearby communities of Cairo, Windham and Palenville.
Lodging may be found in the nearby communities of Windham and Palenville.
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.