The Great Northern Catskill region has some of the best hiking and outdoor activities in New York State. In the 20th-century, the Catskills became a popular summer vacationing spot for well-to-do families seeking a break from the city. During its resort heyday, the Catskills boasted over 500 hotels and served as inspiration for the movie “Dirty Dancing”.
Today, the Catskills is a hub of activity for foodies, art and music lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and thrill seekers. The region, occupying five counties in southeastern New York, is approximately contained within the borders of a 600,000-acre preserve.
All those forests and mountains make for some excellent activities hiking, biking, skiing, fishing, camping, and more. There are many types of Catskill vacation rentals to choose from, making the Catskill region an ideal vacation destination.
Year round, the region draws thousands of visitors looking to get outdoors, be active, and commune with nature. While there are countless ways to take advantage of the great outdoors here, certain activities are best experienced in-season. Summer in the Catskills is a splash for water sports enthusiasts, with canoeing, tubing, and whitewater rafting on offer. And with 35 peaks at an elevation of 3,500 feet or higher, the winter sports really shine here. Skiers, snowboarders, and other winter sports buffs flock to the slopes each season for some fun in the snow.
Of course, the Catskills is a magical place to just get away from it all any time of the year. Staying in a Catskill vacation rental can certainly be the most economical choice.
Here we highlight some of the best places to get out and active in the Catskills this season. Whether you’re into hiking, horseback riding, skiing, or extreme sports like ice climbing, you’re sure to find it here.
Hunter, Greene County
Located in the 7,620-acre Kaaterskill Wild Forest, the 260-foot cascading Kaaterskill waterfall is the highest in New York state. A popular hiking destination today and throughout the centuries, the picturesque fall was immortalized by many Hudson River School artists. And while the moderate 1.4-mile route won’t leave you breathless, the view at the top sure will. The park also offers back to nature style camping and trails for horseback riding, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.
Hunter, Greene County
High atop the Great Northern Catskills sits one of New York state’s premier 4-season resorts. Styled as the “snowmaking capital of the world”, Hunter Mountain welcomes skiers, snowboarders, and tubers to its slopes every year. While you’re sure to score on the slopes thanks to Hunter’s snow guarantee, the resort offers more than just winter sports. Take the popular zipline tour. At five miles long and heights near 600 feet, it’s the longest and highest zipline in North America. Hunter also offers visitors hiking trails, fly fishing excursions, 4×4 off-road adventures, and an 18-hole Championship-size golf course.
North Mountain and North-South Point Campground
Haines Falls, Greene County
Located in the Catskill Forest Preserve, North Mountain boasts some of the region’s most scenic hiking. Trails of varying grades and lengths with poetic-sounding vistas like Inspiration Point and Sunset Rock are accessible from the North-South Campground. The campsite offers two beaches and lakes along with kayak, canoe, and paddleboat rentals. The preserve is also a prime locale for fishing and spotting wildlife like white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and even black bears.
Rosendale, Ulster County
This one’s for the adventure gurus and adrenaline junkies. Alpine Endeavors offers guided half-day, full-day, and two-day rock climbing, ice climbing, snowshoeing, mountaineering and hiking services throughout the Catskills. Intrepids can test their metal on Slide Mountain, the highest peak in the Catskills, or hone their survival skills in a Wilderness First Aid class. While not for the faint of heart, all skill levels are welcome to come out and unleash their inner mountaineer. Alpine supplies all the technical and safety equipment to ensure that your foray into ice climbing induces safe adrenaline levels.
Catskill Scenic Trail,
Bloomville and Roxbury, Delaware County
Follow the aptly-named Catskill Scenic Trail for an easy but oh-so scenic hike through the western mountains of Delaware County. A “rails to trails” project turned the former Ulster & Delaware Railroad into 26 miles of trails through farms and forests. With spectacular views of the surrounding countryside, the path draws hikers, bikers, horseback riders, and cross-country skiers throughout the year.
Windham, Greene County
Ten miles from Hunter Mountain, Windham is another popular ski resort offering 54 visitors hiking trails and 6 terrain parks over 285 acres. With numerous workshops and lesson packages, it’s a great place for families and greenies alike to develop their slope legs. Not into skiing? Windham offers tubing, ice skating, and snowshoeing, as well as a mountain bike park, golf course, yoga and spa facilities.
Elka Park, Greene County
For a killer hike with equally killer views, this double summit offers one of the most difficult but picturesque climbs in the Catskills. The Twin Mountain trail is part of a 25-mile long range known as Devil’s Path. This aptly-named path earned the top spot on BackPacker Magazine’s list of the “Twelve Toughest Trails” in the country. For those who make it to the top, rewards come in the form of bragging rights and spectacular photo ops.
Roxbury, Delaware, County
If you prefer your slopes with more challenge and less crowds, head to the Plattekill Mountain Ski Center in Roxbury. Here 40 percent of the trails are marked as more or most difficult with another 40 percent designated as difficult. The resort is also well-known for its bike park and 60+ miles of hardcore downhill mountain biking trails. The area is a draw for hikers as well. Find miles of summer hiking trails accessible from the ski center, plus picturesque trails managed by Platte Clove Wilderness Preserve.
Drone Video of Kaaterskill Falls: Andrew Camarata
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