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Catskill Backcountry Information

Updated Winter 2017/18

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

  • The early March snowstorm left nearly three feet of snow and ice throughout the Catskill Mountains, with some areas of significantly deeper snow due to drifts. Many trail systems may be difficult or impossible to pass through due to deep snow, icy conditions and numerous downed trees. Please be diligent and wear snowshoes when hiking to prevent "post-holing" and avoid injuries. Many DEC parking areas have been plowed. However, some parking areas may be icy or inaccessible. Please use caution if driving in areas that remain icy or are snow covered.
  • 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 that 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 clothing. 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 and ice can be hard to see. Please be aware of icy conditions on the stairs, rocks, and steep slopes and 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.
  • Platte Clove Road, Indian Head Wilderness, Greene County, Town of Hunter: this road is closed from November 1 through April 15.
  • Greene and Delaware counties, no current trail closures.
  • Bluestone Wild Forest, towns of Hurley, Kingston, and Ulster: The gate allowing access to the lower parking area at Onteora Lake will be closed when the road leading to the lower lot is covered with ice or snow. The upper parking area will still be available to visitors.
  • Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest, towns of Andes and Middletown in Delaware County, and Town of Hardenburgh in Ulster County: The gate at Alder Lake will be closed once the road leading to the main parking area is covered with ice and snow.
  • Sundown Wild Forest and Willowemoc Wild Forest, Sullivan and Ulster counties: The snowmobile trails are open for use once trails are covered in ice and snow. Seasonal gates allowing access to snowmobile trails will be opened once the trails are sufficiently covered in ice and snow.
  • Sundown Wild Forest, Town of Rochester, Ulster County: the gates allowing snowmobile access at Trails End Road and Upper Cherrytown Road have been opened.
  • Seasonal Roads: The following seasonal roads are not maintained during winter months, be aware of snowy conditions:
    • Platte Clove Road - Indian Head Wilderness (Greene County, Town of Hunter)
    • Roaring Kill Road - Indian Head Wilderness (Greene County, Town of Hunter)
    • Russell Brook Road - Delaware Wild Forest (Delaware County, Town of Colchester)
    • Mary Smith Road - Delaware Wild Forest (Delaware County, Town of Colchester)
    • Ploutz Road - Dry Brook Wild Forest (Delaware County, Town of Middletown)

Regulatory Updates

  • Peekamoose Riparian Corridor, Sundown Wild Forest, Town of Denning: Special Regulations have been in effect for a segment of the Rondout Creek and environs since May 25, 2016. The regulations are intended to protect public safety and the environment. More about the Special Regulations

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.