Catskill Park is an ideal destination for a day trip or week-long getaway, located just two hours from New York City. The area receives 2.7 million visitors a year, most drawn to the park’s scenic mountains, but the place also features rivers, waterfalls, lakes, and trails. It is the perfect choice for people looking for a quiet vacation.
The park is also a popular destination among hikers and can be visited year-round. Travelers can find different recreational activities for the whole family.
What to know about Catskill State Park
Catskill Park was established in 1904 and was 7,000 acres spanning Ulster, Greene, Delaware, and Sullivan counties in New York State. The place is home to nearly a hundred peaks, and its highest point is Slide Mountain, which rises 4,180 feet above sea level.
In addition to this, the park also features forests, multiple rivers, lakes, and rich wildlife including black bears, snakes, and coyotes. The area is a combination of private and public land, labeled as “Forever Wild”, which means that the territory of the park will always be preserved.
It is possible to enter the park for free and the best way to explore the area is by car. Travelers can also take a taxi or ride-sharing service to the area, as public transportation near the park is very limited.
What to do in Catskill State Park
Catskill Park is a great alternative for nature lovers, with plenty of year-round activities.
There are over 45 trails
Travelers can easily visit Catskill Park and never repeat a trail because it offers multiple options for different groups. The park has 45 trails, where visitors can cycle or hike with varying levels of difficulty, as the elevations can reach 8,172 feet. Of course, some of them are more popular among visitors.
Hunter Mountain Fire Tower: this 8 mile trail is one of the hardest hikes in the park and has an elevation gain of 1,898 feet. On a clear day, visitors can see Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Vermont and camp at the Hunter Mountain Fire Tower, located 4,040 feet above sea level.
Mary’s Glen Trail: travelers looking for a moderate hike should head to Mary’s Glen Trail, which often takes nearly three hours to complete. The best thing is that it can be explored in a variety of ways, so travelers can find hiking, horseback riding, or even skiing groups depending on the time of year. This trail is open year round.
Huckleberry Point Trail: this 4 mile trail is also very popular and suitable for beginners, but travelers can expect some steep trails along the way. Arriving at Huckleberry Point, travelers have a privileged view of the park and the Hudson River.
Diamond Notch Trail: this is considered an easy hike, and the best time to do this trail is in spring and early summer. During these months it is possible to see many wildflowers along the way.
North-South Lake Loop: This difficult and moderate hike can take almost four hours and is not open all year round. Travelers should therefore check their opening season. People can see waterfalls, lakes, rivers and even historical sites along the way, so the long way is worth it. It is also possible to stay longer and camp in certain areas.
Catskill Park is also perfect for families, friends, or even solo travelers looking for camping destinations; reservations can be made by phone or online. There are various campsites in the park and travelers can camp near a river or in a valley. It is also an excellent sport for star gazing, as light pollution is low in the area;
Fishing And Hunting
The park’s rivers teem with trout and are considered a prime spot for fly fishing, but visitors need a Catskill Park Fishing Permit. Between October and December is deer hunting season in the park. Hikers and other visitors should therefore know the region’s hunting regulations and wear an orange vest. There are also hunting seasons for other animals including black bears, turkeys, ducks and birds.
Swimming And Waterfalls
One of the best things for families in Catscakills Park is that the place is full of spots and perfect for swimming. They can be full on summer days and parents should be careful as not all sites are supervised. At Lake Onteora, travelers find an excellent structure with picnic tables and areas for fishing and boating.
It is also possible to find beautiful waterfalls, including Fawn’s Leap and Kaaterskill Falls.
Visit Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts is located on the site that hosted the Woodstock Festival in 1969. The place is now home to many educational programs, including concerts and the annual Harvest Festival.
Tips for visiting
Visiting Catskill Park is possible year-round, but travelers will find a different park each season. As outdoor activities are in the spotlight in the region, it is essential to know that planning a hike in spring has different requirements than hiking in winter.
Although Catskill Park has many campsites, the area also offers excellent resorts and accommodations. The park also has a visitor center operated in partnership with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and it should be the first stop for first-time visitors. Staff can help visitors with maps, information, and advice about the area.