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Catskill Backcountry Information

Updated September 2020

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 Tick Free: Follow these tips to be tick free while spending time in nature.

  • Wear light-colored clothing that will help you spot ticks easily.
  • Wear enclosed shoes, long pants and a long sleeve shirt. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots, and shirt into pants.
  • Considter using insect repellent on your clothing.
  • Stay on clear, well- traveled trails. Walk in the center of trails. Avoid dense woods and bushy areas.
  • Keep long hair tied back.
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after going outdoors to wash off ticks that may be on you.
  • Do a final, full- body tick check at the end of the day (also check children and pets), an remove ticks promptly.

Road and Trail Updates

  • Kanape Parking Area on Watson Hollow Road (County Route 42) is now open after an expansion project starting The Kanape parking area offers access to the Ashokan High Point trail.
  • DEC Temporarily Reducing Permits to Visit Peekamoose Blue Hole: During the State's ongoing response to COVID-19, DEC is temporarily reducing by half (from 50-25) the number of permits issued per day to visit the Peekamoose Blue Hole in the town of Denning. DEC permits are required to visit the site on weekends and holidays from May 15 - September 15. Permits are available as late as one day in advance, but no more than seven days in advance. Permits can be acquired from Reserve America. (link leaves DEC website).
  • DEC Fire Towers are temporarily closed to the public. Trails and summits to the towers remain open, but the towers themselves present a potential risk with multiple people climbing the stairs, in close quarters, unable to appropriately socially distance, and using the same handrails.
  • Limited Parking: the number of available parking spaces may be reduced on high visitation days. Pease avoid crowded areas. For visitor safety and the safety of others, do not park on roadsides and only park in designated parking areas.
  • Kaaterskill Falls, the viewing platform, and connecting trails are temporarily closed. The Kaaterskill Wild Forest remains open to the public.
  • Parking areas at Molly Smith, Laurel House Road, and Scutt Road are closed to public use. All access trails leading to the falls will be closed. Roadside parking in thesse areas is prohibited.

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

Play Smart * Play Safe * Play Local

New York State's PLAY SMART * PLAY SAFE * PLAY LOCAL campaign encourages residents to engage in responsible recreation during the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis. New York State DEC and State Parks recommendations for getting outside safely incorporate guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Department of Health for reducing the spread of infectious diseases. This guidance urges New Yorkers to recreate locally, practice physical distancing, show respect for all outdoor adventurers, and use common sense to protect themselves and others.

Take the Pledge to PLAY SMART * PLAY SAFE * PLAY LOCAL: Enjoy the Outdoors Safely and Responsibly

  1. I pledge to respect the rules and do my part to keep parks, beaches, trails, boat launches and other public spaces safe for everyone.
  2. I will stay local and close to home.
  3. I will maintain a safe distance from others outside of my household.
  4. I will wear a mask when I cannot maintain social distancing.
  5. I accept that this summer, I may have to adjust how I enjoy the outdoors to help keep myself and others healthy and safe, even if it means changing my plans to visit a public space.
  6. I will be respectful of others by letting them pass by me if needed on a trail and keeping my blanket ten feet apart from others on the beach.
  7. I will move quickly through shared areas like parking lots, trailheads, and scenic areas to avoid crowding.
  8. If I am not feeling well, I will stay home.

Use the hashtags #PlaySmartPlaySafePlayLocal, #RecreateResponsibly, and #RecreateLocal on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share how you get outside safely, responsibly, and locally.

What's Local? Consistent with the NYforward (leaves DEC website) phased reopening plan, DEC and State Parks are encouraging New Yorkers to recreate locally in their region (leaves DEC website). Each of the state's 10 REDC regions (leaves DEC website) have a wide variety of recreational opportunities. New Yorkers getting outdoors should use common sense in planning outdoor activities and remember that public facilities like restrooms or other amenities may not be available.

Use DECinfo Locator to find DEC managed resources near you and visit the State Parks website for information about parks and park closures.

Regulatory Updates

  • Regulations have been 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):
    Camping
    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.

Camping

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.
  • Reservations for the 2019 camping season can be made online as far as 9 months in advance.

Catskill Fire Towers

DEC Fire Towers are temporarily closed to the public. Trails and summits to the towers remain open, but the towers themselves present a potential risk with multiple people climbing the stairs, in close quarters, unable to appropriately socially distance, and using the same handrails.

DEC Backcountry Regulations

Stay Safe, Respect Others and Protect the Environment

  • Backcountry hiking trails can be rugged and rough. Keep in mind that wilderness conditions can change suddenly.
  • Properly prepare to ensure that you have a safe hiking experience
  • Hiking safety for all seasons
  • Always practice Leave No Trace principles (leaves DEC website) to minimize your impacts on the natural resources and others.
  • Dealing with bears: Be away that you may encounter black bears while hiking in the Catskills. The use of bear-resistant food canisters is recommended, but not required. Hanging your food between trees at least 15 feet above the ground is also effective. See more on how to avoid or reduce human-bear conflicts.
  • Fire safety when camping

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.