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Willowemoc Wild Forest

hikingfishingfishingprimitive campinglean-toCross-country skiingsnowshoeingsnowmobilingbicyclinghorseback ridingHuntingtrappingAccessible recreationpicnicportable toiletParking icon key

Willowemoc locator map

Located in the southwest corner of the Catskill Park, Willowemoc Wild Forest contains more than 14,800 acres of Forever Wild Forest Preserve. A 40-mile trail network provides access to six ponds, and a world-class trout stream, the Willowemoc. Although hilly, the terrain is not as rugged as the Catskill High Peaks. The Willowemoc Wild Forest has the most expansive snowmobile system in the Catskills.

Featured Activities



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

All trails are open to foot travel. Approximately 15 miles are for hiking only, such as the Mongaup-Hardenburgh Trail to the Big Indian Wilderness. Here are a few suggested hikes:

A waterfall in dappled sunlight in the forest
Old Hunter Road falls.

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). There is parking for the trail on Beech Mountain Road.

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.



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

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.

View across Long Pond
Long Pond

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.

Many perennial streams provide excellent trout fishing, especially the Willowemoc, where brown and brook trout abound.

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.


primitive camping

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

There are two lean-tos, one on the western edge by Quick Lake and another by Long Pond. Primitive camping is allowed at sites marked with round, yellow, DEC markers. Additionally, at large primitive camping is allowed. Campsites must be at least 150 feet away from the nearest road, trail, or body of water. Camping for more than three nights or in groups of ten or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger.

Lean to overlooking a lake
The Quick Lake lean-to

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.

Cross-country Skiing & Snowshoeing

cross-country skiing

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

Willowemoc Wild Forest is open for cross-county skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. There are designated or no maintained ski trails, however cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are permitted on all hiking trails.

The foot trails from Frick Pond trailhead are particularly suitable for cross-county skiing. 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).



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

With more than 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.

Wooden bridge over a creek in the forest
Flugertown snowmobile bridge

On state lands within the Forest Preserve, snowmobiles are permitted only:

  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.

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.



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

While there are no trails specifically 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.

Horseback Riding

horseback riding

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

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. 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. Access is best from Black Bear or Long Pond Trailheads, where there is adequate parking for horse trailers.

Hunting & Trapping


Wildlife Management Unit: 3A & 3H

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

Willowemoc Wild Forest is open for hunting and trapping during appropriate seasons.Hunting and trapping are traditional uses that are encouraged within the Forest Preserve. This area supports a thriving black bear population and stable white-tail deer population, both of which are hunted in the fall. The eastern wild turkey is hunted in both spring and fall. Furbearers, including beaver, fisher and coyote, are harvested annually.


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 wilderness.

Accessible Features

Accessible recreation
Two people fish at an accessible fishing pier
Waneta Lake accessible fishing pier
portable toilet

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

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 portable toilet.


  • Black Bear Road Trailhead is in the town of Denning, Ulster County, two miles northwest of Claryville. (41.974783°N, 74.578967°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Long Pond Trailhead is in the town of Neversink, Sullivan County, on Flugertown Road, three miles northeast of Willowemoc. (41.938183°N, 74.647883°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • 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. (41.9573491°N, 74.6912198°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • 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. (41.9573491°N, 74.6912198°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
  • Waneta Lake is accessed from two small parking lots along Beaverkill Road (County Route 151) , in the town of Rockland, Sullivan County, five miles north of Livingston Manor.
    • Upper Parking Area: (41.967478°N, 74.829728°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)
    • Lower Parking Area: (41.961779°N, 74.832058°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)

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

Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety

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 Willowemoc 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

DEC manages this property in accordance with the 1991 Willowemoc 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 2001 (PDF) for lean-to construction and parking lot expansion, and again in 2006 (PDF) for snowmobile trails, Waneta Lake access, and utility relocation.

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

Where to Find Nearby Amenities

  • Gas, food and other supplies can be found in the nearby community of Livingston Manor.
  • Lodging can be found in the nearby community of Claryville, Big Indian and Liberty.
  • Dining can be found in the nearby community of Big Indian and Grahamsville.

Catskill Regional Tourism Office (leaves DEC website), Sullivan County Tourism (leaves DC website) and Ulster County Tourism (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.