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Catskill Backcountry Information

Updated December 2018

For a safe and enjoyable outdoor experience on public lands in the Catskills and New York City's Catskill/Delaware Watershed, please consult DEC's regular updates, seasonal notices and general information below.

Current Conditions

  • Be careful of stream crossings after heavy rains. Do not attempt to cross swiftly running creeks and streams.
  • Hunting season is in full swing in the Catskills. Hikers should wear bright colored clothing during hunting seasons, and hunters should make sure that their target is clearly identified before taking a shot.
  • Nights are getting colder. Plan ahead and be prepared if you decide to camp out in the cold weather. Please make sure you have adequate gear for temperature and conditions.
  • Winter is just around the corner. Please make sure that you are prepared with microspikes and snowshoes when hiking in the mountains.
  • Looks can be deceiving. Often times conditions in low-lying areas can be very different than the conditions one may face when hiking mountains through the Catskills. Keep in mind, during winter, there may be ice and snow on mountain peaks even when none is present at trailheads. Be prepared for colder, windier, and more treacherous conditions at upper elevations than you face at lower ones. Plan ahead and prepare by bringing traction devices, gloves and extra clothes in case you need them. When the mountains are thoroughly covered in snow, snowshoes are a great way to keep yourself from post-holing.

Road and Trail Updates

  • Kaaterskill Falls, town of Hunter: All hikers are reminded to use extreme caution in this area throughout the year due to steep trails and numerous cliffs and drop offs. Hikers are reminded to stay on the marked trails and note that rocks can be very slippery when wet. Please stay away from cliff edges. Please enjoy the views from the base of the lower falls and from the viewing platform at the top of the falls.
  • Sundown Wild Forest, Ulster and Sullivan counties: A permit will be required to visit the Blue Hole on Weekends and Holidays between May 15th and October 15th of each year starting July 30th 2018. Permits can be acquired from the Reserve America website . Permits are free of charge, but must be acquired at least 24 hours in advance and cannot be acquired more than a week in advance.

Additional weekly trail conditions are available from The Catskill Interpretive Center.

Regulatory Updates

  • New Regulations adopted for the following four areas: Kaaterskill Falls Riparian Area (town of Hunter, Greene County), Kaaterskill Clove Riparian Corridor (towns of Hunter and Catskill, Greene County), Platte Clove Riparian Corridor (town of Hunter, Greene County, and town of Saugerties, Ulster County), and Colgate Lake Wild Forest Area (town of Jewett, Greene County). For more information see the press release.
  • Blue Hole and Peekamoose Valley: DEC has issued special regulations for the Blue Hole and Peekamoose Valley because of the huge increase in visitors. The purpose of these regulations is to increase public safety and reduce impacts to the environmental resources.
  • Except for the nearby designated camping area, the Blue Hole is only open to the public from one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset.
  • Users are required to use portable restroom facilities for human waste disposal and the dumpster for all other waste.
  • The following are prohibited at the Blue Hole (limited use will be allowed at the nearby designated camping area only):
    All fires (including charcoal fires, wood fires, gas grills, propane stoves or other portable stoves)
    Use of portable generators
    Glass containers
    Radios and other audio devices
    Parking is limited to designated parking areas only. Parking along the shoulder of the road is prohibited by the Town and is a Tow Away Zone.

Emergency Contacts

Report back county emergencies, such as lost or injured hikers, and wildland fires to the DEC Forest Rangers at 518-408-5850 or call 911.


yellow and black camp here marker
  • Backcountry camping is allowed year-round on state forest preserve lands at designated sites (look for yellow and black "Camp Here" markers) and anywhere below 3500 feet as long as you are at least 150 feet from a waterbody (lake. pond. stream), road or trail.
  • Backcountry camping for more than three nights, or in a group of ten or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger. See the Forest Ranger roster for Ulster and Sullivan Counties or the Forest Ranger roster for Delaware and Greene Counties.
  • Campfires are allowed below 3500 feet in elevation. Use only dead or downed wood.
  • Campgrounds: All eight of DEC's campgrounds are closed for camping for the season. The campgrounds remain open for day uses such as hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice fishing. The campground parking lots at Mongaup Pond, Woodland Valley, and Kenneth L Wilson are open. The parking lot at North South Lake Campground is closed for the season. (2/1/17)
  • Reservations for the 2017 camping season can be made online as far as 9 months in advance.

Catskill Fire Towers

There are five fire towers in the Catskill Park that are staffed by volunteer "summit stewards" and open to visitors on weekends between May and October. Get more information on each fire tower.

DEC Backcountry Regulations

Backcountry Safety and Trail Etiquette

Access to NYC DEP Lands in the Catskill Forest Preserve

Hiking, fishing, hunting, trapping and boating are allowed on some of NYC Department of Environmental Protection's DEP) watershed lands that are marked with DEP signs stating "Entry by Permit" or "Public Access Area."

A free DEP Access Permit is required for areas marked "Entry by Permit". You can get your Access Permit online and print it out for immediate use. (see Links Leaving DEC's website at right). Access permits are good for five years.

To help outdoor enthusiasts find access to the City's lands and waters, DEP has developed an interactive mapping tool that provides information on the size, location, topography, and allowable uses at each recreation site in the Hudson Valley and Catskills. A link to the interactive RecMapper tool can be found on DEP's recreation webpage (see Links Leaving the DEC website at right)

  • Hiking: Allowed at Public Access areas and at other upland watershed lands with a valid access permit
  • Fishing: Allowed on the Schoharie, Ashokan, Neversink, Rondout, Cannonsville and Pepacton Reservoirs with DEP access permit and DEC fishing license. All boats must be steam cleaned and registered with the NYC DEP.
  • Non-motorized boating: Canoes, kayaks, row boats and sail boats are allowed on the Schoharie, Cannonsville, Pepacton and Neversink reservoirs from Memorial Day through Columbus Day with a DEP access permit. All boats must be steam-cleaned before use in the reservoirs.
  • Hunting and Trapping: Allowed on most Public Access areas and "Entry by Permit" areas in season, with NYC DEP access permit and appropriate license from DEC.