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”.
What Area is Considered the Catskills?
The Catskills is situated between Albany and New York City. The region, occupying five counties in southeastern New York, is approximately contained within the borders of a 600,000-acre preserve.
Are the Catskills nice?
Today, the Catskills is a hub of activity for foodies, art and music lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and thrill-seekers. All those forests and mountains make for some excellent activities hiking, biking, skiing, fishing, camping, and more.
If you love natural sceneries, enjoy food, art, or outdoor activities, or simply want to relax, then the Catskills is a wonderful destination.
Where to Stay When Visiting the Catskills?
There is a large variety and styles of Catskill vacation rentals to choose from, making the Catskill region an ideal vacation destination.
This beautifully restored private farmhouse offers unsurpassed views and hundred acres of beautiful land to explore! It’s perfect for family or group getaways.
With its rustic charm and postcard-perfect visual, this cozy vacation rental home is an excellent option for your next Catskills vacation. This home is great for relaxation and for just getting away from all the hustle and bustle.
Best Hiking & Outdoor Activities in Northern Catskills (Greene County)
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.
Here we highlight some of the best places to get out and active, and the best hikes in the Catskills. Whether you’re into hiking, horseback riding, skiing, or extreme sports like ice climbing, you’re sure to find it in beautiful Catskills.
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. Want to enjoy Catskills outdoor activities? This is another excellent option!
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. This area is considered one of the best hikes in the Catskills! 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 turkeys, and even black bears.
Windham, Greene County
Ten miles from Hunter Mountain, Windham, New York 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. Definitely one of the best hikes in the Catskills!
Eastern Catskills (Ulster County) Hike, Bike & Explore!
Rosendale, Ulster County
Looking for more hiking trails in the Catskills to explore? This one is 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.
Outdoor Hiking Spots & Activities in Southern Catskills (Sullivan County)
Paul Smiths, Sullivan County
This 4.7-mile loop is another one of the best hikes in the Catskills. It’s great for those who enjoy climbing long flat trails! Ideal for those who prefer mild traffic, this trail is rated as moderate and offers plenty of scenic views. You’ll find plenty of beautiful wildflowers in the vicinity and you’ll pass through a number of young pine forests. If you love wide-open sceneries, river-side riding, abandoned trail lines, and bush trails, then this loop is perfect for you.
Things To Do Outdoors in Western Catskills (Delaware County) Plus the Best Places to Hike
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.
Roxbury, Delaware, County
If you prefer your slopes with more challenges and fewer 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. So, if you want to do some Catskills mountain biking, then this is the place for you! 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.
Catskills Winter Hiking
Winter in Catskills is simply breathtaking! The gorgeous sceneries are blanketed in pure white snow and hiking takes a whole different feel. The snow-covered trails offer a serene ambiance that you’ll only experience during the winter season.
Is it Safe to Hike in Winter?
Catskills winter hiking could pose more challenges compared to hiking during the other warmer seasons of the year, however, planning and preparing ahead, and taking the proper precautions can make the experience safe, fun, and extremely worth it.
Just remember to make sure that you’re not alone during the hike and that you let family or friends know where you’re heading off to. Also, don’t forget to bring your essentials—maps and navigation tools, appropriate clothes and footwear, food and water, safety items like your whistle, fire, and light, first aid kit, knife or multi-tool, shelter, and sun-protection. And make sure you do your research before you tackle any trail.
Whether You Like to Bike, Hike, or Nature Walk, the Catskills NY is the perfect getaway from the big city!
Catskills is home to many exciting and relaxing activities! You’ll never run out of things to enjoy in the area. Whether you like trying out different sports, exploring the vast land, or simply love staying at the patio of your vacation rental home and taking in the gorgeous view of your balcony, Catskills is one of the best places to go on your next vacation.
Looking for a Place to Stay in Catskills?
Why rent a room when you can have the whole house? Don’t limit yourself, book a Catskill, NY Vacation Rental for half the price of a hotel.
Drone Video of Kaaterskill Falls: Andrew Camarata
No Booking Fees!
Direct Communication with the Owner
Start Saving Today!
Browse and book more Catskill vacation rentals on New York Rental By Owner
NEW YORK’S #1 VACATION RENTAL LISTINGS SITE