The 10 Best Hikes in New York's Catskills

Panoramic view from Breakneck Ridge
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There’s nothing better than escaping the hustle and bustle of New York City and filling your lungs with a big breath of mountain air... Catskill Mountain air, to be exact. Located just two hours from New York City and the Lower Hudson Valley, the Catskill region is filled with mountains, lakes and waterfalls, an abundance of foliage, and plenty of wooded hiking trails for all levels. Whether you’re seeking a leisurely summer stroll or a challenging expedition in the cold, the Catskill hiking trails are worthwhile, year-round.

01 of 10

Vernooy Kill Falls

Vernooy Kill Falls
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Vernooy Kill, New York, USA

Perhaps best hiked during the warmer spring, summer, or early fall months, Vernooy Kill Falls is a 3.6-mile, out-and-back trail near Kerhonkson in Ulster County. The trail—which is easy yet rocky—takes hikers to a collection of small waterfalls and pools. You can fish for trout if desired, but many choose to relax on the rocks and enjoy a picnic lunch while admiring the falls. Nearby, you'll also find the ruins of an approximately 200-year-old mill, built by the Vernoy family the trail is named after.

02 of 10

Overlook Spur Trail

Overlook Mountain Sunset

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Overlook Mountain, Woodstock, NY 12498, USA

Overlook Mountain is a short and scenic ride from the town of Woodstock, New York. There are three ways to reach the top, but we prefer the Overlook Mountain Spur Trail, which follows an old carriage road. Although only a 4.6-mile, out-and-back hike, the entirety of the trail is an uphill descent, making it feel more difficult than it probably is. Along the way, you'll come across a historic fire tower, at the top of which you can enjoy gorgeous views of the Hudson River Valley and Ashokan Reservoir. Once you reach the summit, you'll be treated to even more panoramic scenes of the mountains and hills below. But perhaps the best part of this hike is along the trail itself when you come across the ruins of Overlook Mountain House hotel, eerily erect but sans windows, roof, and most walls.

03 of 10

Mount Tremper Trail

Tremper Mountain, Shandaken, NY 12416, USA

Located near the favored town of Phoenicia—frequently in demand by those looking for boozy milkshakes from the Phoenicia Diner and a weekend getaway from the city—is the Mount Tremper Trail. Popular among hikers and snowshoers alike, this 5.9-mile, out-and-back trail is a slow, steady, and rocky ascent up to a small peak and the Tremper Mountain Fire Tower; if you have the energy, be sure to climb up the 47-foot-tall steel tower for lovely views of the surrounding Catskill Mountains. On your way up, do be on alert for timber rattlesnakes and loose rocks!

04 of 10

Kaaterskill Falls

Looking down into the canyon of Kaaterskill Falls

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Kaaterskill Falls, Hunter, NY 12436, USA

Kaaterskill Falls is one of the best hikes in the eastern Catskill Mountains, located near the towns of Haines Falls and Tannersville. Seeing more than 200,000 visitors a year, this 1.4-mile, roundtrip hike leads to a two-tiered, 260-foot waterfall. Whether hiking in the peak summer season or adventuring to a frozen waterfall in the winter, this hike is enjoyable for all ages and skill levels. Note that the falls can only be reached from the Laurel House Road and Scutt Road parking areas for the time being.

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05 of 10

Balsam Lake Mountain

Balsam Lake Mountain Fire Tower

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Balsam Lake Mountain, Hardenburgh, NY 12758, USA

Located near Livingston Manor and Hardenburgh, this round-trip summit trail is one of the most popular in Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest. With beautiful foliage and wildflowers growing along the path, the 6 miles will fly by as you make your way up the side of the mountain. Begin your journey at the blue-marked Dry Brook Ridge Trail on Mill Brook Road. Hike 2.25 miles south before turning right onto the red-marked Balsam Lake Mountain Trail; from there, it's another 0.75 miles to the top. Once there, you'll find the Catskill town Fire Tower, a 92-year-old steel tower open from Memorial Day through Columbus Day.

06 of 10

Burroughs Range Trail

Burroughs Range, Shandaken, NY 12464, USA

Burroughs Range Trail, also called the Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide Mountain Trail, is a difficult 14.8-mile loop hike, yet arguably one of the most beautiful in the region. With boulders to climb over, wooden ladders to descend, and bridges to cross, this trail near Phoenicia is not for the faint of heart. Many experienced hikers choose to backpack this trail and spread the entirety of it over a few days by camping along the route. Opt for this route if climbing, red spruce trees, and incredible views sound like a good time.

07 of 10

Breakneck Ridge

Rear View Of Man Sitting On Breakneck Ridge Against Sky
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Breakneck Ridge Trail, Beacon, NY, USA

Easily accessible by train from New York City, Breakneck Ridge is one of the most popular day trips from the Big Apple as well as one of the more strenuous hikes in the Catskill Region. To reach the Hikers can expect to climb over boulders, cliffs, and a river on this 3.2-mile loop trek. If you’re an experienced hiker up for the challenge, you’ll break a good sweat on this hike, and the views of Storm King Mountain and the Hudson River are certainly worth the sore muscles.

08 of 10

Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain, Hunter, NY 12427, USA

Sugarloaf Mountain (the one in New York) is located between Plateau Mountain and Twin Mountain near Elka Park. A moderately challenging hike on its own, offering panoramic views of the Catskill region from peaks that reach over 3,500 feet, the Sugarloaf Mountain Loop is a section of the Devil's Path range. Hikers can take in the beautiful foliage and wildflowers along this 8.6-mile loop hike, or stop and do some bird watching along the way.

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09 of 10

Indian Head Mountain Loop

Indian Head Mountain, Hunter, NY 12427, USA

The Indian Head Mountain Loop in Greene County is a 7.3-mile loop trail recommended for experienced hikers only. Part of the Devil’s Path mountain range, it’s a challenging yet doable hike that travels up 2,000 feet to Indian Head Mountain peak. You can even access the high peak of Kaaterskill Falls from this trail, which offers terrific 180-degree views of the surrounding area, including the Hudson River.

10 of 10

Devil's Path

A sea of trees.
Marc Henrion / Getty Images
Prediger Trail Head Road, Elka Park, NY 12427, USA

This trail is not named the Devil’s Path for no reason. Sometimes described as the most dangerous and challenging hiking trail in not just the Catskill region, but in all of the Tri-State area, Devil’s Path is a 24-mile hike through various peaks and summits, located near the town of Hunter. Experienced hikers will brave cliffs, wildlife, and caves, and have the option to camp and backpack the trail for a few days.

Article Sources
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  1. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. "Catskill Hikes." Accessed April 22, 2022.

  2. Catskills Visitor Center. "Katerskill Falls Visitor Information." Accessed April 25, 2022.

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The 10 Best Hikes in New York's Catskills