Catskills is a popular area known for being the filming location of Dirty Dancing. This 1987 film stars Jennifer Gray and Patrick Swayze, but it is not only that that makes it special.
Catskills is a large area with ski resorts, lakes, waterfalls, and hiking trails that you can discover. This makes it a good choice to explore for those who love the film along with outdoor lovers. All occupying four counties, you won’t want to miss the beautiful and diverse sceneries that you can explore.
The Catskill Mountains contain 98 peaks making it a great place for hiking whether you are a beginner or advanced. There are many short hikes that you can go on with your family to hikes that reach 4,180 feet. At the peak of these hikes, you can see the beauty of the Catskills while also getting the challenging hike.
Hiking in the Catskill Mountains is an amazing place to begin your hiking adventure. From trails for families to trails for absolute pros, everyone will find a hike that is challenging, but also enjoyable for them.
There are so many different hiking trails at Catskills that you won’t even know where to begin with! Here is a list that should help with that.
1. Diamond Notch Falls
This is a perfect hike for beginners and people of all ages. Not only is there a beautiful 15-foot waterfall, but there’s one beside it as well, making it an amazing place to experience.
You won’t have to worry about your dog staying inside while you’re experiencing a beautiful hike by yourself. This hike is in a dog-friendly area.
There are some areas where you may let your dog off-leash as well. Helping to make sure your furry friend gets the enjoyment of some well-deserved running.
Going in the early summer and spring months is especially recommended. There are many beautiful wildflowers along the trail to enhance the beauty during the summer months. It is also parallel to Hollow Tree Brook, so while you make your way uphill you may see the stream.
Though, it is important to wear shoes that offer you good traction as the trail can be rocky with some loose spots.
Distance: 6.4 km
Total Elevation Gain: 423 m
2. Mountain Top Arboretum
An easy hike with an elevation gain of 96 meters, it’s a perfect hike for beginners. The route is a loop with a mixture of paved and traditional trail. There are multiple loops in this trail, each having a unique look to it.
This is a popular hike, as it is a very beautiful and nice one to experience. Although, if you are looking for some quiet relaxing time, you don’t need to worry either. There are times when you can get in without it being as crowded to get your much-needed solitude.
Many reviewers have mentioned how beautiful it looked, especially during the winter. This trail features a forest, meadow, and swamp, and the snow will help enhance the beauty. Though if it has been raining for a bit, it is best to bring some boots as it can get pretty muddy.
Distance: 4.3 km
Total Elevation Gain: 96 m
3. Hunter Mountain
This hike is a more challenging out and back route, but it’s definitely well worth it to explore. Many people have gone to this trail for snowshoeing, birding, and hiking. There’s something for the whole family to enjoy on this trail.
This route is dog friendly and even allows them to be off-leash in some areas. Once you reach the top of the mountain there is a picnic table.
The picnic table is a great place to sit and take a breather with your dog. There is also a cabin at the top and a fire tower. At the top of the fire tower, you can see some beautiful views.
Distance: 7.6 km
Total Elevation Gain: 683 m
4. Giant Ledge
Credit: Dawn Rivera / Facebook
A must-see for those visiting near the Hudson Valley as this trail passes five different ledges. If done at night this trail can offer some beautiful stargazing. While if done in the early hours of the morning, it’s a wonderful sunrise experience.
It’s an astonishing place to visit at any time of the year, and you can even have your dog off-leash in some of the areas.
Although, it is recommended for hikers to wear micro spikes in the winter as the trails can become icy. And in the spring, it can be a bit muddy. So, you’ll want to make sure you have some quality mud boots for this experience.
This area is pretty popular for birding, camping, and hiking. So, try hiking there and then camping out until you’re rejuvenated.
Distance: 10.1 km
Total Elevation Gain: 604 m
Related Read: 30 BEST Waterfalls in Upstate New York
5. North Point
At the peak of this trail, it helps show the escarpment toward the Hudson. You will also be seeing the beautiful green region around. There is also Ashley Falls which can be seen during times when there is sufficient water flowing.
Though many reviews have pointed out how difficult this trail is, they also enjoyed it and highly recommended it. There have also been reviews about black bears being seen during the hike.
They reported that you should be very attentive and aware that there is quite a lot of rock scrambling. If you are not prepared for that, it may be better to go for another hike. Whereas, if rock scrambling is your thing, this would be the perfect hike!
Distance: 4.8 km
Total Elevation Gain: 243 m
6. Mount Tremper
Credit: TheTurducken / Flickr
A very interesting hike with a vast amount of history included in it, such as how it got its name from being the place in 1879 where hotelier Jacob Tremper opened the Tremper House.
It was such a well-known area for clergymen to the point that author Oscar Wilde had given a lecture there in 1882.
This mountain is also quite unique as it was originally called Timothyberg. There is a Mount Tremper Fire Observation Station as well. It has been restored and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, so hikers may enjoy a nice view from the tower.
Though it can be quite steep and rocky, it’s definitely a must-see as the view is amazing. There’s a bit of wildlife on this trail, so it is also needed to be careful as to what’s around you.
Distance: 9.5 km
Total Elevation Gain: 618 m
Related Read: 20 Top Treehouse Rentals in New York
7. Kaaterskill Falls
Kaaterskill Falls is situated on Spruce Creek in the eastern Catskill Mountains. It’s a marvelous trail that consists of a two-tier waterfall equaling a total of 260 feet in height. It is well maintained and easy to follow, making it perfect for beginners.
There is also another waterfall along the way to the Kaaterskill Falls, this one being Bastion Falls. It goes past the trailhead and can be viewed from the road. It’s definitely worth seeing in addition to Kaaterskill Falls.
It is a short hike, mostly taking about an hour. Therefore, if you are having a busy day and still want to experience some beautiful scenery this would be the best place to do so.
Distance: 2.6 km
Total Elevation Gain: 121 m
8. Neversink River Unique Area
This is a beautiful area for those looking to see a variety of waterfalls as there are several. This is one of the 75 “Last Great Places” in the United States, Latin America, and the Pacific according to The Nature Conservancy.
It is important to note that this area does not allow swimming or camping. Make sure that you work your sleeping and cooling down arrangements based on that. It also has poor phone service. Therefore, if you do go to this trail you cannot rely on your cell phone to navigate or contact anyone during the visit.
There are many interesting things that you can do during this trail, making it easy for all of your family to find something they enjoy. They have paddling through the gorge, fishing, along with hunting, and trapping during their appropriate seasons.
Distance: 17.7 km
Total Elevation Gain: 507 m
9. Sam’s Point
Sam’s Point is a unique experience where you can hike through a rare and endangered ecosystem. It’s a breathtaking sight and includes one of the last remaining Rare Dwarf Pitch Pine Barren.
It is located on the highest section of the Shawangunk Mountains. Sam’s Point is comprised of 5,000 acres and helps provide a habitat for flora and fauna.
There are also many caves and rock crevices throughout the trail formed by the talus from the cliffs. An interesting thing about these caves is that they stay cold enough year-round that snow can stay inside them.
It is also important to know that if you do plan on going to Sam’s Point, it’s best to arrive early. You can also plan your visit at the times when it is likely to not be as crowded so that you may obtain entry.
Distance: 13.4 km
Total Elevation Gain: 303 m
Related Read: 25 BEST Romantic Cabin Getaways in New York
10. Overlook Mountain
Overlook Mountain is an excellent area to explore as there are so many things that you can see. There are old hotel ruins, a plane crash that happened there, and a historic fire tower. There’s also the benefit of the beautiful and unique area.
The old hotel ruins are especially notable as it was the first hotel built on the mountain in 1833! There’s so much to do and see on this trail that you will have to add it to your bucket list!
An important thing to consider is that many reviewers have cautioned about rattlesnakes being active as you approach the summit.
Distance: 7.4 km
Total Elevation Gain: 426 m
11. Catskills Scenic Trail
The Catskills Scenic Trail is a beautiful place for those looking for a scenic mountain hike. You’re able to discover some beautiful and stunning rolling mountain vistas.
There’s much to see on this trail including the headwaters of the Delaware River, woods, farms, fields, and small towns.
As for the farms, it is important to note that you should be wary as the resident turkeys may approach you.
This is also an excellent place for those who like to bike, ski, or horseback ride. If you were wanting to bring along your bike, this is the best trail to do it! For those also interested in fishing, this trail does have many fishing access points.
Distance: 40.1 km
Total Elevation Gain: 238 m
12. Frick Pond Loop
Credit: Alex Lewis / Flickr
This is a beautiful loop trail that explores the different wetlands, fields, and woods in Sullivan County. It’s a good place for cross-country skiing, hiking, and birding for those interested in having more than one thing to do during a hike.
It is especially noted to visit during the summer. This is when most of the wet areas have dried up causing you to have a more enhanced and better experience.
An added bonus to this trail is that it’s really unlikely that you will encounter other people during your hike, making it a perfect time for some peace and quiet to let your mind cool down. Because of the variety of activities you can do on this trail, it’s open year-round!
Distance: 10.5 km
Total Elevation Gain: 252 m
13. Ashokan Rail Trail
The Ashokan Rail Trail traces the northern edge of the Ashokan Reservoir. It was developed through a historic partnership with the Department of Environmental Protection of New York City. This trail is open to bicycling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and any non-motorized uses and is open year-round!
It is a gravel point-to-point trail and is an easy route for those who may do this with wheelchairs, strollers, or mobility equipment. But it is important to note that this equipment may need all-terrain tires for the surface type and grade.
Another word of caution for those looking to use this equipment on the trail, assistance may be needed at sections where it is steeper.
Distance: 18.0 km
Total Elevation Gain: 116 m
14. Tusten Mountain Trail
Credit: Steve Guttman NYC / Flickr
This trail is home to many quarries and from a distance, you will be able to observe the Delaware River on this trail. The best time to explore this trail would be through the spring and autumn months. During these months you may experience some beautiful wildlife as well.
The surface is mostly free from large stones, mostly consisting of small stones, dirt, and tree roots. Therefore it is important to know that this trail can get muddy in some areas.
This trail is moderately challenging. Although, it has been said by reviewers that trekking poles can be helpful during the steep inclines as it can get muddy. It has also been said that you should be cautious if you bring younger kids as it can be a bit of a challenge.
Distance: 4.7 km
Total Elevation Gain: 149 m
15. Devil’s Path
This is the area's most popular and challenging route. The challenge of this trail makes it a great place for those experienced hikers. It’s a popular trail for backpacking, camping, and hiking and it leads over the top of several different 3,000+ peaks.
Those who are backpacking typically do weekend trips here, while hikers will go for day trips to one or two summits. Though it is possible for hikers to complete the trail in a day. It truly is a beautiful and must-see hike if you are up for the challenge.
The Devil’s Path is open year-round, but during the winter months, it is a lot more difficult to hike. You may need to be an experienced winter mountain hiker to ensure safety. Thus, make sure to bring micro spikes or snowshoes if there’s a chance of snow or ice.
Distance: 38.6 km
Total Elevation Gain: 2,491 m
16. Vroman’s Nose
Those looking to bring their kids to their hiking should consider this trail as it is a short trail. But there is the caution that if you go in the winter months, snowshoes or spikes will definitely be needed. During the winter it can get pretty icy, especially on the lower-mid trail.
Vroman’s Nose is an interesting trail to hike as it gives some spectacular views of the valley beneath. It’s given the name Vroman’s nose as the first inhabitants of Schenectady were the Vroman family and the area looks like a nose.
Distance: 2.4 km
Total Elevation Gain: 148 m
17. Balsam Lake Fire Tower
The Balsam Lake Fire Tower is the seventeenth-highest peak in the Catskills Mountains. Once at the summit the fire tower will help to provide a 360-degree view of the spectacular mountainous area. Though the tower is only open in the summer, so be aware of that when making this trip.
Hiking during the later hours is rewarding as the night sky looks exceptionally beautiful with the prevalence of the stars. Though this is a frequently visited place for those looking to snowshoe and cross-country ski in the winter.
Distance: 6.9 km
Total Elevation Gain: 360 m
18. Bramley Mountain Trail
One of the more popular hiking areas in the western Catskills. This trail was built by the Catskill Mountain Club with the Department of Environmental Protection of New York City.
This loop trail visits the 2817 summit with a former fire tower, cliffs, caves, and an abandoned bluestone quarry. This makes this a great trail and will have a beautiful overlook once you reach the peak.
In October, many reviewers have noted that you can see beautiful foliage during the autumn season. Hence the reason why it would be exceptional to explore this trail during that time. Along with the rock outcroppings and cliffs, this makes the trail worth seeing.
Distance: 5.5 km
Total Elevation Gain: 274 m
19. Dry Brook Ridge Trail
Credit: u / Total Catskills / Reddit
This point-to-point trail is perfect for those looking for a more forest-type trail. It is a beautiful trail with an overlook of the Pepacton Reservoir. And with the remarkable hundred different species of birds that can be found, this trail makes every step worth it!
There have been reviewers commenting about the sightings of wildlife, including bears and bobcats. On the other hand, there have also been some sightings of smaller wildlife such as porcupines. Consequently, you need to be cautious during this trail.
Distance: 5.9 km
Total Elevation Gain: 191 m
20. The Finger Lakes Trail
Credit: Go Finger Lakes
The Finger Lakes Trail is the longest continuous hiking trail in New York. It is great for those looking to see some historic scenery as well as nature.
With past family farms, hardwood forests, precipitous gorges, and historic towns, this makes for a great trail to explore. At every step, there’s always going to be something new to discover!
It consists of a network of trails in New York. For those looking to do some camping here as well, there needs to be some caution in maintaining the correct path. This area is a partnership between private property owners and local officials. Consequently, it is important to respect their rules.
Distance: 7.7 km
Total Elevation Gain: 213 m