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When the fall foliage hits, the Catskills offer a true golden spectacle
Every October, The Catskills get that Midas touch from Mother Nature. Here are a the most popular Catskills hikes to view the fall foliage extravaganza. (And if you want to avoid the crowds, or just don’t want to do the same hike as everybody else, I’ve listed alternative excellent hikes.)
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Okay, here are the best fall foliage hikes in The Catskills…
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Fall Foliage: Giant Ledge
The short rugged hike to Giant Ledge takes about an hour, so it’s quite doable. And the view from multiple lookouts along the Ledge is amazing. This is one of the top destinations in The Catskills for hikers at any time of year — but especially during leaf-peeping season.
The hike to Panther from Giant Ledge is not difficult, and adds about 45 mins each way. It’s well worth it, if you have the time; amazing views.
- Hike Giant Ledge & Panther
- Alternate hike: Balsam from Rider Hollow — A truly delightful hike through Mine Hollow, up over Balsam Mountain, then down through Rider Hollow. This is one of the most picturesque hikes in the Catskills.
Giant Ledge is also a strong contender for your first sunrise hike.
Fall Foliage: Ashokan Rail Trail
With three massive lots, and spectacular views of the reservoir and surrounding mountains, the Ashokan Rail Trail is the safest way to take in The Catskills — and is especially accessible for anyone with mobility issues. The north end of the trail (in Boiceville) has the best scenic views.
- Hike Ashokan Rail Trail
- Alternate hike: Ashokan Quarry Trail — A short, super-easy hike almost anyone can do with fantastic terrain and scenic views (and a superb set of ruins to explore).
Fall Foliage: Kaaterskill Falls
The lower trailhead and route to Kaaterskill Falls, via Bastion Falls, is blocked off right now. You’ll have to approach the falls from above. Most people park at the Laurel House Road lot and walk the few hundred feet down to the viewing platform. Boring. Here’s a better place to park, with a glorious walk in to the same viewing spot…
- Alternate hike: Kaaterskills Falls via Kaaterskill Rail Trail — This short, super-easy hike includes scenic views not seen by those who park closer to the falls.
Fall Foliage: Ashokan High Point
Another super-popular destination — great for camping overnight, and the relatively flat walk in to the back of the hollow is stunning at this time of year. The climb to Ashokan High Point is steep, and the views are… okay! We can do better…
- Hike Ashokan High Point
- Alternate hike: Windham High Peak from Cross Road — Hiking Windham High Peak from Route 23/Cross Road is my favorite way to hike this wonderful mountain. The large parking area, and the easy first mile of boardwalks and hemlock-rich woods, make for such a pleasant beginning and end to this beautiful day hike.
Fall Foliage: Overlook Mountain & Fire Tower
You can hike up Overlook Mountain’s easy trail in about an hour. The fire tower at the end of this short trail is positioned to give one of the most dramatic views in the Catskills. A nearby ledge offers an incredible view.
- Hike Overlook Mountain Fire Tower
- Alternate hike: Mount Tremper Fire Tower — This short, steep trail is one of the most popular routes in the Catskills because the (massively underrated) view from this fire tower is truly extraordinary.
Fall Foliage: Hunter Mountain Fire Tower
From Spruceton, this moderate and very scenic hike can be completed in 3-5 hrs. This is the easiest route to climb Hunter Mountain.
- Hike Hunter Mountain Fire Tower
- Alternate hike: Romer Mountain & Mount Pleasant — The hike to Romer’s summit is locally popular for good reason: the trail is beautiful. The hike to Mt Pleasant is less travelled but is absolutely worth it. It ends with one of the most spectacular vistas in the Catskills.
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