I’ve been hiking in the Catskills for many years and in today’s post want to share 10 personal trails I found to be the most amazing to explore and some of them aren’t official places to explore (but extremely fun to check out either way).
Some of these hiking trails in the Catskills I’ll be sharing with you range from beginner to very advanced and I will be labeling each trail with the proper difficulty label to help you decide if it’s for you.
The beauty of the Catskill Mountains is that this area is so large at well over 500,000 square acres that there’s many trails to explore, far more than what I’ll be showing you, but these ones are stunning and highly recommended to check out if you’re new to exploring this region.
When I first began visiting the Catskills, I developed a one day adventure hike in the Catskills I did over and over, with friends and many family members and while we all loved it, for me, repeating the same path dozens of times became boring and this year, I began expanding my horizons in the Catskills and exploring more areas there and the following hiking trails are what I consider to be the best:
- 1 Here are my 10 best hiking trails to explore in the Catskill Mountains:
- 2 1) Kaaterskill Falls Trail:
- 3 2) Minekill Falls:
- 4 3) Indian Head loop trail:
- 5 4) Devils Path full trail:
- 6 5) Labyrinth trail hike:
- 7 6) Lost City Loop trail:
- 8 7) North South Lake loop trail:
- 9 8) Boulder Rock Trail:
- 10 9) Hunter Mountain Fire tower trail:
- 11 10) Fawn’s Leap to Rat’s Hole Park:
- 12 More hikes to come (leave your suggestions below too):
Here are my 10 best hiking trails to explore in the Catskill Mountains:
- Kaaterskill Falls trail (2 miles).
- Minekill Falls trail (1 mile).
- Indian Head loop trail (7 miles).
- Devil’s Path (24 miles).
- Labyrinth trail hike loop (2 miles).
- Lost City Loop trail (3 miles).
- North South Lake loop trail (2 miles).
- Boulder Rock trail (5 miles).
- Hunter Mountain Fire tower trail (5 miles).
- Fawn’s Leap to Rat’s Hole Park trail (1/2 mile).
So let me show you why each of these hiking trails are absolutely stunning:
1) Kaaterskill Falls Trail:
Distance: 2 miles in and out.
Difficulty: Easy to moderate.
Description: Kaaterskill Falls is in my opinion one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Catskills and without a doubt the largest. There are several ways to reach it:
1) A yellow trail which starts either at North South Lake, well above Kaaterskill Falls, but takes you to it and under it (in and out trail).
2) The same yellow trail from the opposite end which begins at Bastion Falls 1/2 mile from it (the most popular) and takes you to the base of the falls (and all the way to North South Lake).
3) Or the shortest route which is a parking lot at the top of the falls, from which there is a short 15 minute walk to it.
I recommend doing the second option as it’s the most popular and the trail to the base of Kaaterskill falls is stunning itself, and that’s before you even reach the waterfall.
If you try to do this hike on a weekend, I wish you luck because of all the stuffed parking lots near this trail, but if you can make it there on a weekday or super early, you’ll likely find
2) Minekill Falls:
Distance: 1/2 mile.
Description: Minekill Falls is another huge waterfall in the Catskills but isn’t as crowded.
You can visit it on most days without the parking lot nearby being full. But from that parking lot are 2 trails available, one which is a short one to an overlook, and the second, the 1/2 mile one which takes you to it’s base. This is identified as the green trail and it’s easy to walk on.
3) Indian Head loop trail:
Distance: 7 miles.
Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous.
Description: One of the most popular hikes you’ll hear about in the Catskills is the Devils Path hike, which is actually next on this list. But being that it’s over 20 miles long and most people being unable to do it, an alternate day hike exists that takes you through portions of it and the most popular one is the Indian Head Loop trail.
- It begins at Prediger road.
- You take the red trail (Devils Path).
- You switch to the blue trail about 4 miles into the red trail to head back to Prediger road.
This hike will give you a good taste of the Devils Path hike without going the full distance, and also take you to the top of one of the peaks on that trail which is Indian Head Mountain. There are some really cool scenic overlooks and a few climbing spots on it, but it is very rocky and dangerous in places.
4) Devils Path full trail:
Distance: 24 miles (point A to B).
Difficulty: Very difficult.
Description: This is the most difficult trail in all of the Catskill Mountains, but the most popular too. If the Indian Head loop trail isn’t enough to challenge you, then perhaps the full Devils Path trail may be your thing.
- To do it, you would also start at Prediger Road.
- Just follow the red trail all the way to the end (5 peaks).
Doing the entire Devils Path in one day is possible, but only for the insanely experienced and tough athletes. Otherwise, do this as an overnight trip which many elect to.
5) Labyrinth trail hike:
Distance: 2 miles in and out.
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult.
Description: The Labyrinth hike is in the southern area of the Catskills known as Mohonk Preserve. I’ve done this hike several times and it’s extremely fun if you like scrambling, climbing and tight hiking areas.
But to get to this hike, you must first hike 2 miles to the trail head before embarking on it. Then you need to go back down on the trail above the Labyrinth hike and another 2 miles back to where you began the trip in the first place. So overall, you’re looking at about 6 miles of total hiking, including the Labyrinth.
6) Lost City Loop trail:
Distance: 3 miles.
Difficulty: Beginner to moderate.
Description: I discovered this hike by chance from a local and with much acclaim, I decided to do it. It’s a very scenic trail that is also within the Mohonk Preserve region.
It takes you through the beautiful scenic areas of the Mohonk Preserve and Catskill region, among other areas. I did a very fun trail run there but you can certainly walk it. If you decide to take dogs there, be careful, as some parts of it may require you to pick up your pet.
7) North South Lake loop trail:
Distance: 2 miles.
Description: There is an easy but beautiful trail (green) around the North South Lake region of the Catskills which takes you around both lakes. It’s short, but very easy to navigate and great for family hikes.
The other great news is that it cuts close to the 2 other hikes on this list:
- The yellow trail to Kaaterskill Falls.
- The blue trail to Boulder Rock (next on this list).
So if you want to challenge yourself further, you can elect to go on either trail to continue your hike there.
8) Boulder Rock Trail:
Distance: 5 miles.
Description: There are 2 ways to access the Boulder Rock trail:
First, you have the North South Lake region from which you can hike up to this trail (identified as blue) all the way, which will take you through to beautiful scenic views of the Hudson River and mountain regions east of it.
Second, you have the option to hike the entire path which will take you down to the start of Catskill Park and this is something I recommend doing only if you start at the bottom and work your way up, then maybe the yellow trail to Kaaterskill Falls, then back to the parking lot, making it a loop (check the map first before doing this).
9) Hunter Mountain Fire tower trail:
Distance: 5 miles.
Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous.
Description: This trail is located at Hunter Mountain and begins at the parking lot, taking you all the way to top of it, on which stands a popular fire tower and from this viewing area, you will be able to see all of the Catskill Mountains.
10) Fawn’s Leap to Rat’s Hole Park:
Distance: 1/2 miles.
Description: This is not an official trail in the Catskills, but is the one I take most often when I visit this area. It’s basically you hiking through some of my favorite swimming holes in the Catskills, as well as hiking in water, land and hopping rocks from Fawn’s Leap, down to Rat’s Hole Park.
This short but very fun and scenic hike will take you through at least 3 swimming holes, a beautiful gorge and more and don’t worry about getting lost, as this trail literally just flows downriver and is parallel to the road that heads through it. You can park your car on this road in designed parking areas, do the hike and then go back to the car afterwards.
More hikes to come (leave your suggestions below too):
I listed a number of really popular and cool hiking trails in the Catskills within this article, but of course, it’s meant to expand and I certainly will be adding more trails as I find them, but if you are already an avid hiker in the Catskills and don’t mind sharing other awesome trails in the region, I’d love to hear your suggestions!