18 Amazing Western Catskills Hikes

scenic sunset view from Pakatakan Mountain

Pepacton Reservoir seen from Pakatakan Mountain

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Some of the best day hikes are only a few hours from New York City and the Western Catskills have it all!

I put this list of the most amazing Western Catskills hikes together from hikes I’ve done myself in the Western Catskills and hikes I want to do in the Western Catskills!

This list includes links to detailed trail guides on this website, and links to less detailed guides on AllTrails.

Hike Safely in the Western Catskills

The most rugged hikes in the Catskills are generally in the eastern and central parts of the range. But the Western Catskills offer some of the most beautiful hiking in the Catskills Park, as well as the Catskills only true long loop hike.

Western Catskills hikes are also where it’s at come the fall. The endless rolling hills, packed with maple trees, offer some of the most spectacular leaf change vistas in the United States. Bookmark these: Catskills Fall Foliage Hikes and New York Fall Foliage Tracker.

Planning your Western Catskills Day Hike

Even for short, easy hikes, always make sure to pack The Ten Essentials — and have the correct emergency number for New York’s Forest Rangers in your phone.

Unsure how long a hike will take? Plan on two miles per hour. Or use this hiking pace formula to get a more accurate estimate.

Looking for a place to stay in The Catskills? Check out this list of amazing vacation rentals…

Stay Here › Amazing Catskills Vacation Rentals

BTW, winter is coming — time to pick up a set of the best microspikes you can buy

Amazing Western Catskills Hikes

These hikes are organized by level of difficulty: easy, moderate, and challenging.

This post is free to all readers thanks to my Patreon subscribers who kindly support this content.

Easy Western Catskills Hikes

These hikes are easy and rewarding. They’re short, so they won’t chew up your day or exhaust your party, but they still provide deep nature experiences. You’ll feel far from the world and get to know the Catskills a little more.

Russel Brook Falls & Mud Pond

This gem of a short hike will take less than 90 mins. The falls are very near the start of the route, and the trail to Mud Pond is snowmobile trail. The total elevation gain is under 500 feet. (The trail can be a little muddy after rainfall.)

hiker in snow among spruce forest
Hiker in Kelly Hollow

Kelly Hollow Loop

Kelly Hollow Loop is one of the most beautiful hiking trails in the Catskills. It’s also one of the easiest! A figure -of-eight trail system winds through a stunning spruce forest and around a large beaver pond. There is also plenty of gorgeous stream action, and more delightful footbridges than you can throw pine cones at.

Andes Rail Trail & Bullet Hole Spur

This easy lasso-shaped trail can also be completed in about 90 minutes. You’ll pass a historic Depot Building, erected in 1907.

Add the spur that climbs over Hemlock Knoll if you want to get a little more exercise and enjoy wonderful views of the Tremperskill valley below.

Alder Lake Loop

This 2.4-mile loop near Livingston Manor offers very little elevation change. It’s a popular trail for birding, camping, and cross-country skiing.

For a longer and more strenuous hike add you can hike out to Mill Brook Ridge and Beecher Lake Overlook.

Note: In winter, an AWD vehicle is recommended to access this trailhead.


Where to Vacation in the Catskills

Looking for an amazing place to stay in the Western Catskills? These days, there are so many options. Modern travel trailers. Spacious private homes. You’ll find everything you need for a solo trip or a large family gathering.

Check out my list of the best vacation rentals in the Catskills.


Moderate Western Catskills Hikes

These hikes are longer and more strenuous. They offer wonderful hiking dotted with fantastic views.

sinuous boardwalk in partially green spring woods, catskills
Frick Pond Boardwalk

Frick Pond & Hodge Pond Loop

The beautiful walk around Frick Pond includes my favorite boardwalk in the Catskills. It’s amazing and very special: wide, sinuous and long, it seems to go on forever.

To get there, ignore the start of this trail that heads north and heads up the ridge of Beech Mountain. Instead, head west, directly to Frick Pond, from the large parking lot and then find your way up the west side of Frick Pond.

There’s also an incredibly old white pine tree near Graveyard Junction.

You can enjoy the boardwalk and then simply turn around, or continue to follow this 6.5 mile loop that will take you about 3 hours to complete.

At the north end of Hodge Pond, there’s a short herd path down to the water’s edge.

I used this fully-trailed loop as the basis for a much more difficult hike where I bushwhacked to the summits of Beech, Mongaup and Hodge Pond mountains. It was one of the most memorable hikes I’ve done. Full trail guide coming soon. In the meantime, here’s a link to the route I took, which includes bushwhack sections that are for experienced backcountry navigators only.

Onwards to Shavertown…

scenic catskills view
View from the pond / Shavertown Trail

Shavertown Trail

A steep hike to a wonderful lookout, with a break in the middle at a sweet pond with its own view.

Under 3 miles, a little steep in spots, but definitely a fun short hike.

rock ledge on pakatakan mountain
One of many beautiful rock outcroppings

Pakatakan Lookout & Shelter

A short steep hike past dramatic rock formations leads to a sweet view over the Pepacton Reservoir.

fire tower view across conifer forest
View from Balsam Lake fire tower

Balsam Lake Fire Tower

Even light snow cover turns Balsam Lake into a glittering winter wonderland. And it’s a cinch to hike. A cold fall morning is the perfect time to take in the fire tower’s incredible 360° view. Winter hikes to the tower are absolutely spectacular.

fire tower
Red Hill Fire Tower

Red Hill Fire Tower

A gem of the Western Catskills, the view from this tower takes in many of the Catskills High Peaks.

There are now two routes to the tower: the classic route and a new route from Denning.

Long Pond via Beaverkill Ridge Trail

This 7-mile loop trail near Roscoe, New York has less than 700 feet elevation gain and takes under 3 hours to complete.

Rock Rift Fire Tower Trail

This steep hike to a sketchy fire tower is under 4 miles and will take 2-3 hours to complete. The bottom rungs of the fire tower steps have been removed to deter climbing…

Jensen Ledges

Enjoy this 3 mile trail with great views near Hancock, New York. Allow 45-60 minutes to get to the dramatic ledge view.

Note: on this trail, which passes through private property, it’s important to stay on the path.

Trout Pond and Mud Pond Loop

Want something longer? This 7½-mile out-and-back route near Roscoe, New York, is a moderately challenging hike in a quiet area that will take about 4 hours.

Little Pond and Touchmenot Mountain Loop

Shorter but still moderately challenging, this 3 mile loop hike near Andes, New York, will take under 2 hours to complete.

Note: Hike this route clockwise if you want a more gradual climb, or counter-clockwise if you’d prefer a steeper start.

Challenging Western Catskills Hikes

These hikes will give life to the hiker in your life — who maybe is you!

Pelnor Hollow from the South (Lean-To & Summit)

There are two approaches to the summit of Pelnor Mountain in the Western Catskills. This is the shorter and easier of the two, and approaches the summit from the south via the Lean-To.

Pelnor Hollow from the North (Mary Smith Trail)

This longer approach, with more than twice the elevation gain than the southern route, will take around 4 hours to complete. A short spur brings you to a wonderful spot called Split Rock Lookout.

Campbell Mountain via Mary Smith Trail

At over 17 miles, and with over 4100 feet of elevation gain, this is the longest and most difficult hike on this list. Experienced hikers may be able to complete this out-and-back trail in 9-10 hours.

spruce forest in summer
Incredible spruce forest on Huckleberry Loop

Huckleberry Loop

This is the only true long loop hike in the Catskills, an it’s an absolute gem. I have hiked it twice and both times had a near spiritual experience.

13 miles. 2700 feet of elevation gain. Amazingly varied route. Historical ruins. Old growth forest. One great view. Four spectacular spruce plantations.

Literally can’t wait to hike this amazing Western Catskills hike again.

Read More

This post is free to all readers thanks to my Patreon subscribers who kindly support this content.

There are several high peaks in the Western Catskills, and the incredible eastern high peaks are only an hour away. Check out this list of Catskills High Peaks.

To accompany this list of amazing Western Catskills hikes, here’s a list of amazing vacation rentals in the Catskills.

Finally, you’ll need somewhere to eat — so here’s a comprehensive list of great places to eat in the Catskills for hikers.

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Hello, I’m Sean

I write independent hiking content to help hikers like you find amazing hikes in the Catskills, Adirondacks, Gunks, Hudson Highlands, Taconics and beyond.

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