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Welcome to the Catskills

Click the icons below to explore recreational opportunities in the Catskills!

accessible recreationhikingfiretowercamping back country camping paddlingboatingfishing bikinghorse trailsbird viewing areacross country skiing snow shoeing snowmobiling

Before you start your adventure, be sure to check the regularly updated trail conditions for the Catskills, provided by the Catskills Visitor Center (leaves DEC website). We encourage you to subscribe to our Catskills newsletter through DEC Delivers for monthly updates on events, trail conditions, and advisories.

A view of the top of the forest at dusk with mountains in the background

Whether you're seeking a day trip escape to nature or a week-long adventure in the woods, the Catskills offers something for everyone. Picturesque mountain peak views, more than a quarter million acres of forests, and 300+ miles of trails offer ample opportunity for many types of outdoor adventures while also providing protected habitats for a variety of plants and wildlife. From accessible nature trails to rugged mountain peaks and calm ponds to rushing rivers, there is a destination for every size and kind of adventure - and it's yours to explore. All that is asked of you in return is that you recreate safely and do your part to preserve this beautiful area for generations to come.

Use our resources below to plan your trip and prepare to responsibly enjoy this region so that it is just as special for the next visitor and your next trip.

Explore the State Lands of the Catskills

Forest Preserve

Protected as "forever wild" by Article XIV of the New York State Constitution, New York's Forest Preserve lands in the Catskills and Adirondacks range from DEC-operated campgrounds to remote backcountry, and have exceptional scenic, recreational, and ecological value. Striking a balance between recreational use and resource protection is achieved through a park-wide land classification system and individual unit management plans.

  • Forest Preserve Units (Regions 3 and 4) - Information on specific Catskill forest preserve lands that offer recreational opportunities such as hiking, paddling, camping, etc. Individual property webpages provide details on trailheads, parking areas, and nearby amenities.

Wildlife Management Areas

Wildlife management areas (WMAs) are lands owned by New York State under the control and management of DEC's Bureau of Wildlife. These lands provide great opportunities for wildlife-related recreation such as hunting, trapping, and fishing as well as areas for visitors to spot a wide variety of wildlife species through photography and bird watching. Several WMAs have accessible features such as fishing platforms, hand boat launches, trails, and kiosks - see accessible recreation destinations for more information.

State Forests

Just outside the Blue Line of the Forest Preserve, the general Catskills region also contains dozens of state forests - all of which are open to the public. Many of these properties offer rugged trails, primitive camping sites, unique hunting opportunities, and lands and waters open for a variety of recreation types. Use the links below to find state forests and other state lands by county.

Catskills Visitor Center

The Maurice D. Hinchey Catskills Visitor Center (CVC) (leaves DEC website) at 5096 Route 28 in Mount Tremper is your gateway to all the Catskills has to offer.

The CVC opened in July 2015. Visitors can learn about the Catskills' extraordinary recreational, cultural, and historic opportunities as well as take advantage of a variety of tourist services through the Center's iPads and wall displays. The Center's property also offers walking trails, picnic areas, a fire tower, and access to the Esopus Creek. Learn more about the CVC or use their interactive trip planner on their website (leaves DEC website).

Find Your Adventure

The Catskills provides visitors with countless outdoor recreation opportunities. Find your adventure with the resources below.

Destinations

  • Accessible Recreation Destinations - View a list of accessible facilities and opportunities by county. Accessible features include ADA-compliant parking, picnic pads, camping pads, fishing access, nature viewing, and water access.
  • Lower Hudson Valley - View a list of all state land sites open to the public in the southern Catskills.
  • Northern Catskills and Capital Region - View a list of all state land sites open to the public in the northern Catskills.
  • DECinfo Locator - Our interactive map helps you find state land destinations and other outdoor recreation information.

Hiking


Overlook Mountain Fire Tower

The following resources will help guide you to your next hiking adventure as you connect with the outdoors. Always be prepared, safe, and practice Leave No Trace during your outing.

  • Catskill Hikes - A selection of hikes for all experience levels. Waterfalls, scenic vistas, and remote lakes included.
  • Hike With Us - Catskills - A series of guided hikes throughout summer months provide opportunities for hikers of all experience levels and families. Beginners welcome! Registration is free for all hikes.
  • Fire Towers - Take in a piece of Catskill history with a hike to one of the many fire towers. Several fire towers have open cabs, allowing visitors to take in stunning views.

Be prepared for your adventure:

Camping

Both the comfort of a DEC-operated campground and more rugged backcountry experiences can be found in the Catskills.

  • Campgrounds and Day Use Areas - Eight state-operated campgrounds provide more than 700 individual sites and additional amenities such as picnicking, swimming, and fishing.
  • Primitive Camping - The Catskills provides a variety of primitive camping opportunities such as hike-in sites, lean-tos, and canoe camping. Primitive sites are available on a first come, first served basis.
  • Camping Guide (leaves DEC website) - Interactive guide about NYS campgrounds.
  • First Time Camper Program - New York State provides FREE First-Time Camper weekends throughout the summer. New York families that have never camped before can have the opportunity to see if they enjoy the great outdoors before investing in their own ear by registering for a fully stocked campsite at a select NYS campground for a designated weekend.

Learn more:

Paddling and Boating

In addition to the trickling streams and tiny ponds that dot the landscape of the Catskill Preserve, several small lakes offer calm waters and a serene setting that make them perfect for kayaks and canoes. Bring your flotation device, boat, tube, kayak - and don't forget your fishing pole!

  • Boat Launch Sites by County - Boat launch sites exist in nearly every county of New York. This list, broken down by county, lists information on type of launch, driving directions, and parking capacity.
  • Esopus Creek Water Releases - Annual whitewater and slalom events on the Esopus Creek (not endorsed by or affiliated with DEC).

Learn more:

Fishing

The Catskills are the birthplace of American fly fishing, and has thousands of miles of streams, along with numerous small pond, lakes, and large reservoirs for fishing of all types. Although best known for outstanding trout fishing, the Catskills also offers excellent fishing for bass, walleye, chain pickerel, and a variety of panfish.

Learn more:

Mountain Biking

On DEC lands, biking is allowed on all multiple-use trails, roads open to public motorized vehicles, and other trails designated for bicycling. So whether you're seeking gentle off-road biking or hardcore single-track mountain biking, the Catskills has it for you.

  • Mountain Biking - View suggested mountain biking destinations in the Catskill region.

Other Recreation

  • Horseback Riding - Explore the trails with your own horse, or check with local area Chambers of Commerce for names of stables that take visitors on public trail horseback rides.
  • Watchable Wildlife - Soaring bald eagles, graceful great blue herons, plodding porcupines, and so many other species can be seen in the Catskills whether you're here for a week or just passing through.

Winter Recreation

The Catskills are a year-round destination! Cross-country skiers, snowshoers, snowmobilers, and ice anglers alike can spend a day or week of winter fun here.

Catskills Map and Guide

A view of mountains, forests, and water from a rocky peak
A view from the Catskill Mountains

Copies of the Catskill Park Map and Guide are available at the Catskills Visitor Center (leaves DEC website), DEC's Region 3, 4, and Albany Offices, and local tourism offices. The brochure is also available for download below.

Recreate Safely and Practice Leave No Trace

Safety and sustainability should be in the front of your mind whenever you recreate outdoors. When safety isn't taken seriously, DEC's forest rangers are often called upon to provide lifesaving support to visitors in need. Their expertise and experiences led to the development of the HikeSmartNY program, which provides critical information on how to properly prepare for a hike, what to bring, and what actions you can take on the trail to increase your chances of a successful trip. To prepare for current trail conditions, visit our webpage on Catskill backcountry information.

In addition to keeping yourself safe, it is also the responsibility of every visitor to properly care for the wildness of the Catskills. You can do this by practicing the seven principles of Leave No Trace (leaves DEC website). Developed by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, these guidelines for sustainable recreation will help you protect the land, water, wildlife, and experience of other visitors wherever you go. Together, we can preserve the Catskills for future generations to come.

Help Maintain Catskills Trails and Waterway Access

You can volunteer to help preserve, maintain, and enhance New York outdoor recreation opportunities. Individuals or groups can enter into a volunteer stewardship agreement to maintain trails, lean-tos, boat launches, and other infrastructure.