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Elm Ridge Wild Forest

mountain bikinghikingprimitive campinglean-tocross-county skiingsnowshoeinghuntingtrappingparkingicon key

NYS Map showing the location of Elm Ridge at the northern edge of the Catskills

The 1,355-acre Elm Ridge Wild Forest is located in the northeast corner of the Catskill Forest Preserve. The unit contains a 1.5-mile portion of the Escarpment Trail, the 1.1-mile long Elm Ridge Trail, and numerous other trails totaling more than 25 miles available for multiple uses, including hiking, cross-country skiing, and mountain biking. There are two parking areas that serve the unit, one on NYS Route 23 to the northwest and the other at the end of Peck Road to the south.

Featured Activities


mountain biking

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

Mountain biker in the Elm Ridge Wild Forest

Elm Ridge Wild Forest features loops of trails maintained as single track mountain bike trails. All trails within the Elm Ridge Wild Forest are open to mountain bikes. The loop trails (red markers) northeast of the Escarpment Trail are suitable for riders with beginning and intermediate skill levels. Both the Elm Ridge Trail and Escarpment Trail require greater skill levels because of uneven trail surfaces with exposed roots and loose rocks.

Note: Bikes are not allowed in the Windham-Blackhead Range Wilderness on the east side of Elm Ridge Wild Forest.



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

Escarpment Trail (blue markers): The northern end of the Escarpment Trail is located in the Elm Ridge Wild Forest. It follows the escarpment south for 23 miles, from the East Windham trailhead to the North/South Lake Campground. Nearly 4 miles of new multi-use trails (red markers) join the Escarpment Trail near its northern end. They were completed in 2010. Trailhead parking is located in East Windham at Cross Road and Route 23 for these trails.

Elm Ridge Trail (yellow markers): The Elm Ridge Trail is 1.1 miles long from the trailhead parking at the end of Peck Road to its junction with the Escarpment Trail.

The Long Path: The Long Path, a long distance trail that extends from the George Washington Bridge to Altamont, NY, follows the Escarpment Trail in the Elm Ridge Wild Forest. It continues north for 0.7 mile from East Windham, crosses the state land boundary on Old Road, and continues north on Jenny's Notch Rd.


primitive camping

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

Elm Ridge Wild Forest features one lean-to located on the Elm Ridge Trail.

boardwalk through woods

Primitive camping is also allowed. Campsites much be at least 150 feet from the closest 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

cross-county skiing

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

All trails are open to skiing and snowshoeing. The loop trails (red markers) off the Escarpment Trail are all relatively gentle slopes and suitable for beginning to intermediate skiers.

Hunting & Trapping


Wildlife Management Unit: 3A & 4R

General information on hunting and general information on trapping includes how-to and safety tips with links to seasons, rules and regulations

The area is a popular destination for hunting small game and big game. Ruffed grouse, wild turkey and woodcock are popular species pursued by upland game hunters. White-tail deer and black bear are hunted during the archery and firearms seasons.


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 2 parking areas and an access point with road side parking that can be used to access the Elm Ridge Wild Forest.

  • Escarpment Trail/Long Path North Trailhead is in East Windham, at Route 23 and Cross Road, about 19 miles west of Exit 21 of the NYS Thruway near Catskill, and 11 miles west of the intersection of Routes 23 and 145 near Cairo. (42.312681°N, 74.190969°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Peck Road Parking Lot and Elm Ridge Trailhead is located at the end of Peck Road. This trailhead may be reached from East Windham by continuing west on Route 23, 1.3 miles to the village of Windham. Turn left onto Route 296, and continue 1.5 miles to Hensonville where Route 296 turns into Greene County Route 40. Follow Route 40 for 1.9 miles to Maplecrest and turn left on County Route 56. Peck Road is 1.8 miles east of Maplecrest. Turn left onto Peck Road and travel approximately 0.6 miles to the trailhead. (42.296525°N, 74.169376°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Long Path Trailhead is located at the intersection of Old Road and Jenny's Notch Road. (42.320281°N, 74.187228°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)

All coordinates provided are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.

Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety

Escarpment Trail sign and trail

Practice Leave No Trace Principles (leaves DEC website) when recreating in the Catskills to enjoy the outdoors responsibly; minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts with other backcountry users.

All users of Elm Ridge 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.

Planning and Management

The Elm Ridge Wild Forest was designated in 2008 through the re-classification of a portion of the former Windham High Peak Wild Forest. DEC manages these lands in accordance with the 1994 Windham High Peak Wild Forest Unit Management Plan (UMP) (PDF). 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.

The UMP was amended in 2009 (PDF) and again in 2015 (PDF) to propose additional multiple-use trail development. DEC is developing a third amendment to the UMP that will incorporate the recently-acquired Mt. Hayden parcel into the unit.

If you have questions and/or comments about this UMP, please email us at

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

State Lands and Facilities

Hiker on the Escarpment Trail in the Elm Ridge Wild Forest

Where to Find Nearby Amenities

  • Dining opportunities, gas, food and other supplies can found in the communities of Cairo, Windham, and Palenville.
  • Lodging may be found in the communities of Windham and Palenville.

Catskill Regional Tourism Office (leaves DEC website) and Greene County Tourism Office (leaves DEC website) can provide information about other recreation, attractions and amenities in this area.

Numerous guidebooks 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.