wooden cabin, two stories

Slabsides / John Burroughs Nature Sanctuary

Slabsides is the rustic two-story cabin hand-built by famous naturalist John Burroughs at the end of the 1800’s. It is preserved just as he left it, including its personal contents. A series of short interconnected trails wind through hemlock-heavy woods and a swamp, past dramatic rock outcroppings and magical waterfalls, and alongside peaceful lakes. The terrain is rugged but the trails are appropriate for well-managed children.

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sunset view

Hike Windham High Peak from Peck Road

This is the hike I recommend to anyone who’s never hiked in the Catskills before, or is wondering if they’d even be able to handle a mountain hike. (Yes, you can.) It’s a short and easy hike — but it’s also very beautiful and so rewarding.

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lake view

Hike Onteora Lake (3 Loops)

Just a 10 minute drive from both Kingston and Woodstock, Onteora Lake is a fantastic set of three interconnected loop trails that are perfect for a hit of the real Catskills. Its lake, ponds, streams, trails, old quarries, hemlock and oak forests on gently rolling hills — with occasional cliffs — are ideal for hiking, mountain biking, fishing, hunting, and cross-country skiing.

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creek

Hike Rochester Hollow

An easy hike through beautiful woods leads to a series of magnificent stone fences, ruins, and a memorial to John Burroughs. This is an underutilized and under-appreciated trail. Especially suited to skiers, trail-runners and animal track lovers.

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Spruce & Sunshine

Kelly Hollow Loop: An Easy & Exceptionally Beautiful Hike

Short, easy and thoroughly absorbing, Kelly Hollow Loop is one of the most beautiful trails in the Catskills. It came highly-recommended to me from several friends and it really delivered.

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the cabin in woods

Hike Balsam Lake Mountain

This route combines the easiest ascent to any summit in the Catskill Park with a much more interesting (and far less trafficked) descent down the south side of the mountain. I also tried to find the scenic view, and visited a lean-to. It’s quite easy to drive past the parking area for Balsam Lake because it’s directly after a curve on Millbrook Rd.

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scenic looking

Hike Huntersfield via Ashland Pinnacle

Situated among some of the most bucolic land in New York State, this quiet trail over lush peaks makes for a rich, rewarding and restorative hike.

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summit of bearpen mountain

Hike Vly & Bearpen

Personal opinion: these are the only two boring Catskill 3500 hikes. Vly has a few small ledges to keep things interesting, barely, but I swear the trailed route up Bearpen has almost nothing to recommend it. Luckily, you can bag both of these hills together on a single, easy out-and-back.

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