These easy kid-friendly hikes have so much to offer your family
These kid-friendly hikes are presented in order of increasing difficulty, but all six are very do-able.
The first four have almost no elevation gain — meaning, they’re quite flat and level hikes. The two mountain hikes at the end have moderate elevation gains but no technical concerns (i.e. no rock scrambles or the like); they make a perfect introduction to the joys of mountain hiking.
6 Kid-Friendly Hikes in the Catskills
Immerse your family in nature with these fantastic kid-friendly hikes…
Take a leisurely nature stroll — or a safe, easy cycle — at one of the most popular and beloved Catskills destinations.
Hike Length: 11.5 miles (18.51 km)
Total Ascent: 320ft (98m)
End to end, the Ashokan Rail Trail is 11½ miles (18.5 km) long and extremely level. It’s also 12 feet wide the whole way; great for social distancing.
Basically, it’s absolutely perfect for a stroll or cycle in nature.
There are three large parking lots: one at either end of the trail, and one in the middle — but there are also multiple smaller entry points along its length. In short, there are so many ways to hop on to this amazing kid-friendly resource.
My favorite starting spot is the western end of the trail (near Boiceville) because the the bridge shown above is there, passing over the Espous Creek, and the mountain views at that end are really spectacular.
The Rail Trail runs along the north side of the Ashokan Reservoir. On the south side of the reservoir, you’ll find the similarly-named (but very different) Ashokan Quarry Trail…
A short, super-easy hike almost anyone can do. It has fantastic terrain and scenic views. There’s even a superb set of ruins to explore.
Hike Length: 2.0 miles (3.22 km)
Total Ascent: 189ft (58m)
The Ashokan Quarry Trail is a new, short and highly entertaining hike most people will be able to do in under an hour.
It’s so varied in terms of terrain, flora, views and ruins, it’s a huge hit with younger hikers, too.
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Kelly Hollow Loop is one of the most beautiful hiking trails in the Catskills.
Hike Length: 3.7 miles (5.95 km)
Total Ascent: 469ft (143m)
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 absolutely delivered.
The drive out to Mill Brook Road, from Rte 28, passes through a picturesque area of rural New York that includes many working farms.
From there, the day only improves.
A super-short but super-fun hike through hemlock woods that descends into a rocky gorge with dramatic cliffs and a wonderful chimney/rock-passage to climb through.
Hike Length: 1.6 miles (2.57 km)
Total Ascent: 62ft (19m)
Sloan Gorge Preserve offers an absolutely delightful, short, kid-friendly nature walk.
The preserve is managed by the Woodstock Land Conservancy who describe it as a treasure trove of mixed hardwood and coniferous forests, vernal pools, a seasonal stream, and bluestone quarries. It has the first interpretive “geology trail” in the area. It is also home to bear, fox, deer, raccoon, possum, porcupines, and a wide variety of birds and woodland flora.
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Kid-friendly hikes that are more challenging…
Huckleberry Point is one of the most beloved Catskills destinations.
Hike Length: 4.8 miles (7.72 km)
Total Ascent: 975ft (297m)
The trail is short and relatively easy. In 75 minutes or so, you’ll get to one of the most dramatic vistas in the Catskill Mountains. This is a very popular and extremely memorable hike.
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.
Hike Length: 4.5 miles (7.24 km)
Total Ascent: 1,323ft (403m)
The DEC’s Overlook Wild Mountain page states: “The summit of Overlook Mountain is one of the top three most visited locations in the Catskill Forest Preserve (after Slide Mountain and North-South Lake).”
The trail climbs steadily to the top of Overlook Mountain following an old carriage road that once transported guests in the late 19th century to the Overlook Mountain House.
It is not the most interesting trail. But it is very short, not too steep and, of course, the view from the top is one of the most dramatic scenic views in the Catskills.
If your kids are up for more of a challenge, think about tackling the Catskills Fire Towers — there are now six and all offer exceptional 360° views.
- Where to See New York’s Fall Foliage 2021 — here’s the best link
- How well do you know the Catskills? — find out with this tough 3-minute quiz
- Want a solid family-friendly Catskills hike? — here are 6 Kid-Friendly Hikes you can do in the Catskills
- How about some easy trails? — here are 6 Easy Catskills Hikes you can definitely do
- Taking it super easy? — try a short family-friendly Catskills Nature Walk
- Hungry? — there are so many great places to eat in the Catskills