Hiking the Catskill Mountains
Northern Catskill Mountains Family Resort Hiking Area
Located in the great Northern Catskills, The Thompson House is a family friendly resort, surrounded by some of the best hiking in the northeast. There are many places to go hiking in Windham and in the neighboring towns. Take a look a few of the places below. Most of the hiking trials are suitable for all hiking abilities, but please know your limitations. Windham Mountain Outfitters is just down the road from The Thompson House and has a lot of hiking supplies and maps. We also have maps and directions to the nearby hiking areas at our front desk.
The Windham Path opened in May 2013 and is less than 1/2 a mile from The Thompson House. This 1.5 mile loop features beautiful views, streams, fish, birds, beaver dams and foot bridges. Great for all ages and abilities, walking, running, biking and cross-country skiing. Soon the path will expand and guests of The Thompson House will be able to walk to and from the path without having to venture onto route 23.
Nearby Hiking Area:
The 1,355-acre Elm Ridge Wild Forest is located in the town of Windham, Greene County and is situated at the northern boundary of the Catskill Park. The Wild Forest area is just to the west of Windham-Blackhead Range Wilderness area and is in the northeast corner of the great eastern escarpment of the Catskill Mountains which rise abruptly to high elevation from the Hudson River and Catskill Creek valleys. Elm Ridge is 2,480 feet in elevation and lies southwest of 3,520-foot Windham High Peak.
Maplecrest, Greene County
This challenging trail offers spectacular views of the northern Catskills for those who make the trek. Blackhead Mountain is the easternmost peak in the Blackhead Range, covered with a mix of mature hemlocks, northern hardwoods and balsam fir. Thirsty hikers can stop for a refreshing drink at a natural spring along the route.
Trail: The trail itself is rocky, and the slope alternates between gentle to moderate, to a crevice where hands and feet are needed to descend safely.
Surface: Uneven, with tree roots and rocks and possibly loose stones
Length: 5.1 miles
Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous
Wildlife and Natural Attractions: Mature hemlock-northern hardwood forest to balsam fir forest cover on the summit. An occasional deer, turkey or bear wanders along the path. Songbirds and raptors can sometimes be seen.
Getting There: The trailhead is located in the Windham-Blackhead Range Wilderness, approximately 3.7 miles east of Maplecrest on Greene County Highway 56 (about 1/4-mile past the snowplow turnaround). A trail register is located near the parking area, and all hikers are encouraged to sign in before starting a hike and sign out after returning to the trailhead.
More Information: Contact the forest preserve manager at 607-652-3698 or by e-mail.
Nearby Attractions: Many more trails and scenic views of the Catskills and Hudson Valley North-South Lake Campground
North-South Lake Campground is the starting point for some of the most spectacular hikes in the Catskills. On a clear day, an incredible vista of five states can be seen from the 2,250-foot escarpment where the historic Catskill Mountain House once stood.
Trails: Families shouldn’t miss the short jaunt through Mary’s Glen and a wet meadow to a bridge hewn from a giant hemlock tree. Camera buffs will love the gentle climb to Sunset Rock, which overlooks North and South lakes, distant mountains, and-far below-the Hudson River. A free trail guide at the campground entrance shows all seven hikes.
Difficulty: Easy to challenging
Wildlife and Natural Attractions: Beaver, Canada geese, mallards and other waterfowl. Alligator Rock- two rocks stacked by a receding glacier-is a must-see for kids.
More Information, including directions: North-South Lake Campground
Nearby Attractions:Outside the campground, Kaaterskill Falls is reached by a trail beginning on Route 23A. North-South Lake Campground, one of New York’s biggest and most popular, opens for camping May 10 and boasts many amenities.
Town of Jewett, Greene County
Canoe or paddle the 26-acre lake (sorry, no motors allowed). Mountains surround the valley, with good views of the Blackhead Mountain Range (Thomas Cole 3940 feet, Black Dome 3980 feet, Blackhead 3940 feet). The Colgate Lake Trail (yellow markers) from the last parking lot takes you to a beaver wetland (at 2.35 miles) and meadow – site of a vanished village and sawmill where Dutch settlers, Esopus Indians and runaway slaves lived 200 years ago. If you wish, you can hike onward across the mountains down to the Hudson Valley.
Take State Route 23A west to Tannersville, where you make a right on County Route 23C. Then, make a right onto County Route 78. Park at any one of three parking lots along Route 78 and walk the road to or from Colgate Lake. However, the two-space parking lot nearest the dam is accessible only for persons with mobility impairments. so you will have to park at the others.
Distance: From parking lots to the lake is less than 1 mile
Artist and Sunset Rocks, North-South Lake
Town Hunter, Greene Co.
This hike has narrow ledges. Be prepared to hold back your children. A mostly gentle climb with two steep segments, through a fo rest of flat rocks and pines, passing several rock ledges. Begin this hike at the bulletin board just before you get to the North Lake Beach Parking (Open May – October, day-use fee charged). A short connector trail with yellow markers leads into a pine forest and joins the escarpment trail at .01 mile where you turn left and follow the blue trail markers. Here you find a trail register. There is a steep scramble over boulders up to a ledge at 0.2 mile. Following the ledges over flat slabs of rock and passing through the pitch pine forest, brings you to many good views before a short, steep segment brings you to Artist Rock ledge at 0.3 mile. A favorite stop for such artists as Thomas Cole in the mid-1800s. Their paintings are found in museums throughout the world in what is today known as the Hudson River School of Landscape Painters. Distance – 0.6 miles. Ascent – 200 ft.
After an easier stretch and another short climb, take the yellow trail at the junction to Sunset Rock for magnificent views of North and South Lake and the Hudson River.
Distance: 1.6 miles. Ascent: 300 ft.
Kaaterskill Falls Trail
Town of Hunter, Greene County
Parking is uphill (to the west) of the junction of Rt 23A and Kaaterskill Creek. At 260 feet, these are the highest waterfalls in New York State, dropping in two tiers – the upper falls 175 feet and the lowers falls 85 feet into a rocky basin. They were often painted by artists of the 19th century Hudson River School of Landscape Painters.
From the parking lot, walk down hill along the north side of the road across the Bastion Falls bridge and turn left onto the yellow trail. Care should be taken walking along this narrow busy roadway. The trail climbs steeply from the road, with several good spots to view Bastion Falls, then following the stream through mixed hardwoods and hemlocks to the base of Kaaterskill Falls. The trail is moderate, with some steep ups and downs. After crossing several rock slides, the trail passes large 200+ year old hemlock trees on its way to the often mist-shrouded base of the falls. For your safety, please stay on the trail and do not hike beyond the end of the trail. Do not attempt to climb the falls as this is dangerous.
Distance: 1.2 miles. Ascent: 340 ft.