Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Sundown Wild Forest

icon for hiking with two hikers with walking sticksBlack and white icon of a fire towerFish icon showing white fish and hookhuntingtrappingPrimitive camping icon with tentbikingBlack and white icon of a person on a snowmobilehorseback ridingicon of person in wheelchairIcon for parking with white P on black backgroundicon key

image showing location of Sundown Wild Forest

The 30,100-acre Sundown Wild Forest covers a large swath of the southeast Catskills, including several ridges and 10 mountains over 2,000 feet. Sundown features an impressive mix of natural features - mountains, waterfalls, valleys and rivers - rich with trout streams, hiking destinations, hunting opportunities and snowmobile trails. Hike to the Red Hill fire tower for an unsurpassed view of the Catskill high peaks and Rondout reservoir.

Featured Activities

Hiking

black and white Icon showing two hikers with walking sticks and backpacks

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

view from a mountaintop of a large group of tall, forested peaks
The view from Hoopole Mt. near Ashokan
High Point.

Kanape Brook trail to summit of High Point Mountain: Starts at the Kanape Trailhead on County Route 42 (Peekamoose Road). A popular hiking trail (red markers) follows the woods road before turning and climbing to the summit of 3,080-foot High Point Mountain, approximately 7 miles round trip (5.4 miles round trip in the Valley, another 0.8 miles to the summit).

Repeated fires have created a ridge top blueberry heath with impressive westerly views of the Rocky-Balsam Cap-Friday Mountain ridge, especially adjacent Hoopole Mountain. A good view of the Ashokan Reservoir and the Rondout Valley framed by the Shawangunk Ridge is available from a large blueberry patch, a short but hilly bush walk to the northeast.

Vernooy Kill Falls: A snowmobile-equestrian-multiple use trail starts at the trailhead on Upper Cherrytown Road in the Town of Rochester, passes over the Vernooy Kill and Balsam Swamp to Greenville and returns via Spencer/Trails End Road in an 11.2-mile loop. The most popular destination is the Upper Falls of the Vernooy Kill. Here, the water drops about 60 feet in a series of small pools and falls. Below the falls, a 15-20-foot tall stone wall alongside the stream was part of the "Cornelius" Vernooey Mill complex which operated from the early 1700s until 1809.

Peekamoose Trails: From Peekamoose Valley, a 4.3-mile trail leads west to views on 3,800-foot Table and Peekamoose Mountains. East, it's roughly 8 miles to Vernooy Kill Falls (on the blue marked Long Path). Water cascading down Samson, Van Wyck and Peekamoose Mountains gathers speed and drops into the Rondout Creek through a series of spectacular waterfalls along Peekamoose Road, County Route 42. Please be aware of the new regulations that affect the Peekamoose Riparian Corridor. Parking along County Rte. 42 is very limited, please see the Parking Map for Peekamoose Corridor (PDF) for more information.

Trail in the Sundown Wild Forest

Denman Mountain: At 3,035 feet, Denman Mountain is the second highest peak in Sullivan County area. Locaated near Grahamsville and Route 55, it has a gently sloping trail with many old woods roads to explore. A 7-mile snowmobile-horse trail circles the mountain (segments are suitable for mountain biking). Parking is available at the Furmans and Glade Hill Road/Moore Hill Road intersection.

Red Hill Fire Tower: The trail extends 1.2 miles from the parking area on Dinch Road to the old fire tower. The trail gains almost 900 feet in elevation as it climbs to the fire tower.

Fire Tower

black and white icon of a fire tower

General information on fire towers includes historic and current uses of fire towers and links to other locations with fire towers.

The 60-foot Red Hill fire tower sits atop 2,980-foot Red Hill. It affords a panoramic view of the Catskill peaks to the west and north, and the Rondout Reservoir from behind Denman Mountain. Follow the yellow-marked Red Hill Tower Trail from Coons Road (formerly Dinch Road) just outside of Claryville-a moderate, three-mile, round-trip hike. The Red Hill Fire Tower is open most weekends when staffed by volunteers from Memorial Day through Columbus Day. On all other days, the tower is open to just below the cab.

Fishing

black and white icon of a fish and hook

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

Red Hill Fire Tower

The Rondout Creek stays cold all year and is the largest fishable stream in the area, with stocked and wild brook trout, as well as a few wild brown trout. A series of small parking lots along the north side of Peekamoose Road provide access to 4.5 miles of the creek. The second largest trout stream in the area is the Vernooy Kill in the Towns of Rochester and Wawarsing (partially within the Vernooy Kill State Forest). The Kanape and South Hollow Brooks are small, but both have native trout populations. Mettacahonts Creek and its feeder streams contain trout, even though the upper tributaries may dry out in summer.

Southeastern NY Fishing provides information on fishing in the Catskills and links to top fishing waters, stocking lists, public fishing access and waters open to ice fishing listed by county.

Hunting & Trapping

hunting
trapping

Wildlife Management Unit: 3A & 3C

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

Hunting and trapping are allowed during appropriate seasons. The main game species and furbearers found on the property include deer, bear, bobcat, coyote and fisher.

Camping

black and white icon of a tent for primitive camping

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

One of many Peekamoose Valley waterfalls
One of many Peekamoose Valley waterfalls

Peekamoose Valley: The Peekamoose Valley (County Route 42 in the Town of Denning) is a popular rustic camping area. Camping permits are now required to reserve primitive tent sites in the Lower, Middle, and Upper fields from May 15- September 15 of each year. Camping is restricted to reserved, designated campsites marked with the yellow camping symbol. Visit Reserve America (leaves DEC website) make a reservation. Permits for the Peekamoose Trailer Field must be obtained from the local Forest Ranger (845-240-6790), and must be requested at least 2 weeks in advance.

  • Lower Field: Camping is restricted to 13 designated sites. Permits can be obtained from Reserve America.
  • Middle Field: Camping is restriced to 7 designated sites. Permits can be obtained from Reserve America.
  • Upper Field: Camping is restricted to 9 designated sites. Permits can be obtained from Reserve America.
  • Trailer Field: Camping is restricted to 6, two of which meet ADA accessibility standards (equipped with fire rings, accessible picnic tables and a nearby seasonal accessible port- a-john). Permits for the Trailer Field must be obtained from the local Forest Ranger (845-240-6790)

Biking

biking

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

The first 2.4 miles on the old Kanape woods road are suitable for mountain bikes. Sections of the Vernooy Kill Falls and Denman Mountain Snowmobile-Multiple Use Trails are also suitable. See Snowmobiling and Horseback Riding below and the Hiking section.

Snowmobiling

black and white icon of a person riding a snowmobile

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

Kanape Brook Trail Bridge
Kanape Brook Trail Bridge

An 11.2 mile snowmobile-equestrian trail loop starts at the parking lot on Upper Cherrytown Road, passes over the Vernooy Kill and Balsam Swamp to Greenville and returns via Spencer/Trails End Road.

A 7-mile snowmobile-equestrian trail circles Denman Mountain. Parking is available at the Furmans and Glade Hill Road/Moore Hill Road Trailhead. Part of the trail is on Moore Hill Road (0.6 miles year-round, 1.78 miles seasonal). Snowmobile trails at Denman Mountain are maintained by volunteers.

Horseback Riding

horseback riding

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

Sundown Wild Forest features equestrian trails that are utilized by snowmobiles in the winter. Proof of current negative Coggins certificate is required for all horses and out-of-state horse owners are required to produce a 30-day health certificate. See snowmobiling for trail descriptions.

Wildlife

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.

Accessible Features

An accessible trail at the Peekamoose Valley Camping Area
An accessible trail at the Peekamoose
Valley camping area.
Accessible recreation icon with person in a wheelchair

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

The Peekamoose Valley Camping Area provides opportunities for accessible camping, hiking, picnicking and fishing. There is a 0.25-mile accessible trail that leads to a streamside picnic area and accessible fishing pier. Two accessible campsites are located within the Trailer Field and are equipped with fire rings and accessible picnic tables. A seasonal accessible port-a-john and an accessible informational kiosk are available nearby.

Directions

  • To Kanape Trailhead: Take Route 28 from Kingston or Boiceville to 28A (wraps around the southern side of the Ashokan Reservoir, New York City's water supply) to Watson Hollow Road (County Route 42), then 3.75 miles to the Kanape Parking lot and information board (on your right). Trail (red markers) crosses road just downhill of the parking lot and then crosses a wooden footbridge. Trail register is just beyond. (41.935792°N, 74.328114°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
Mossy brook in the Sundown Wild Forest
  • To Vernooy Kill Trailhead: Take State Route 209 to Cherrytown Road to Upper Cherrytown Road. The parking lot is on the right on Upper Cherrytown Road. Park and cross the road to the trail, which at first climbs up a steep hill on the old woods road, now a snowmobile trail). (41.871867°N, 74.369789°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • To Red Hill Fire Tower Parking Area: Take State Route 209 to State Route 55 to a right on County Route 153 (bordering the west side of the Rondout Reservoir, just before Grahamsville). Continue on Route 153 for no more than 3 miles, make a left on Sugarloaf Road and proceed about 4 miles to Red Hill Road. Make a sharp left on Red Hill Road and an immediate right onto unpaved Dinch Road for 1 mile to the trailhead parking on the left side. If the downhill roadbed is in poor condition, parking at the Red Hill-Dinch Road intersection is recommended. (Route 55 can also be taken east from State Route 17 in Liberty) (41.930293°N, 74.507349°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • To Peekamoose Valley Primitive Campsites and Trails: Take Route 28 from Kingston or Boiceville to 28A (wraps around the southern side of the Ashokan Reservoir, New York City's water supply) to Watson Hollow Road (County Route 42), then continue south past the Kanape Trailhead. The Peekamoose Mountain Trailhead, Trailer Field and Campsites will be on your right several miles down. As an alternative, take State Route 209 to State Route 55 to a right on County Route 153 (bordering the west side of the Rondout Reservoir, just before Grahamsville), then continue on Route 153 (Sundown Road) till it becomes Route 42 (Peekamoose Road). Camp sites and trailhead are on your left. (41.91590°N, 74.443422°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)

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

Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety

Picnic Area at the base of the fire tower

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

All users of Sundown Mountain 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.

Follow the NYS firewood regulation to protect our forests from invasive insects.

Observe all campfire safety practices. Use only dead and down wood. Don't leave garbage in the fire pit.

Planning and Management

DEC currently manages these lands in accordance with the 2019 Sundown Wild Forest Unit Management Plan (UMP) (PDF, 10 MB). 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 questions and/or comments about this UMP, please email us at R3Forestry@dec.ny.gov.

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

State Lands and Facilities

Where to Find Nearby Amenities

  • Food, gas, and other supplies as well as dining and lodging can be found in the nearby communities of Wawarsing, Ellenville, Boiceville, Shokan and Claryville.

Catskill Regional Tourism Office (leaves DEC website), Ulster County Tourism (leaves DEC website) and Sullivan County Tourism (leaves DEC website) can provide information about recreating in this area and other amenities.

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.


More about Sundown Wild Forest: