Catskills Frequently Asked Questions

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escarpment trail route to inspiration point

Lookout on Escarpment Trail

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These are the most frequently asked questions about The Catskills, according to Google.

If you have a question, hit the comments below and I’ll reply.

Are Catskills hiking trails open?

Catskills hiking trails are open 24/7 all year round, even in deepest winter.

No public trail is open or closed on a timed or seasonal basis.

What is the longest hike in The Catskills?

There are several long hiking trails in The Catskills.

The infamous Devil’s Path hiking trail is apx 25 miles long.

The Burroughs Loop is apx 17 miles long.

The only true loop in The Catskills is Huckleberry Loop, which is apx 13 miles long.

The best hike in The Catskills is the through-hike that passes over Wittenberg, Cornell and Slide mountains. It’s 9.3 miles long. It is both very rugged and visually stunning.

Do you need permit to hike in The Catskills?

In general, no. No public trails in the Catskills require permits.

99% of the public land in The Catskills is freely accessible to all. Only a handful of parcels require a DEP Access Permit.

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What is this website?

Hi! I’m Sean and I hike The Catskills every week. This website is a repository of hyper-detailed trail guides for The Catskills, and for helpful mountain hiking educational content. I also hike in the Adirondacks, Taconics, Hudson Highlands, but most of my hikes are in The Catskills because I live in Kingston, NY, which is right beside The Catskills Park. You can see what I’m up to on Instagram and Facebook.

Can you primitive camp in The Catskills?

Absolutely, yes. Scattered throughout The Catskills, there are many primitive campsites, and many lean-to shelters. There are some rules to follow, most notably…

  1. No camping above 3500 feet, except in winter when there’s deep snow on the ground
  2. No camping within 150 feet of any natural water source (stream, pond, lake, etc)
  3. No camping within 150 feet of any marked trail

Read the DEC’s primitive camping page.

What is the best view in The Catskills?

The most easily accessible and best view in the Catskills is the view from Giant Ledge.

The view from Wittenberg is widely regarded as the finest view in The Catskills, but Wittenberg is a tough mountain.

The view from Twin Mountain’s lower summit is a very close second. That is also a difficult hike, as it’s part of the Devil’s Path.

An incredible view that’s not well-known is the dramatic view of Wittenberg from a ledge on Mount Pleasant.

Is it safe to hike alone?

If you are knowledgeable and well-prepared — and accept that all hiking involves managed risk — then, yes, it’s safe to hike alone. Please read The 10 Essentials and the hike safety posts on this website.

If you’re worried about crime, there is essentially no trail crime in The Catskills.

Are there bears in the Catskill mountains?

Yes. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of black bears in The Catskills. However, you will almost certainly not see one on 99% of your hikes. I’ve been hiking in The Catskills for years, and have only a single bear sighting to my credit.

Black bears are very timid. They run away from noise and humans. We want to keep it this way.

There are no grizzly bears in The Catskills.

Are there wolves in The Catskills?

No. There are no wolves in The Catskills.

We do have coyotes, black bears, and rattlesnakes.

Are there bobcats in The Catskills?

Yes! Finding bobcat tracks in the snow is one of my favorite things.

I have never seen a bobcat IRL and doubt I ever will.

Are there mountain lions in The Catskills?

No. There are zero mountain lions in The Catskills.

What is the oldest town in The Catskills?

Windham, in the northern Catskills. Sometimes called “the gem of the Catskills,” Windham was established in 1798.

What famous story takes place in The Catskills?

“Rip Van Winkle” is a short story by Washington Irving. It was first published in 1819. It follows a Dutch-American villager in colonial America named Rip Van Winkle who meets mysterious Dutchmen, imbibes their liquor and falls asleep in the Catskill Mountains. [Source: WikiPedia.]

You can visit Rip’s Rock and see he spot where he slumbered!

What native tribes lived in The Catskills?

The Esopus tribe was a tribe of Lenape (Delaware) Native Americans who were native to the Catskill Mountains of what is now Upstate New York. Their lands included modern-day Ulster and Sullivan counties. [Source: WikiPedia.]

How old are rocks in The Catskills?

The rock-bed of The Catskills is almost entirely Devonian sandstone, a sedimentary rock. The Devonian Period began about 416 million years ago and lasted roughly 57 million years.

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