boulder rock catskills

How to Hike The Boulder Rock Catskills Trail

I’ve hiked the Boulder Rock trail in the Catskill Mountains many times, over many years and if you’ve heard about this hike and are thinking of doing it, let me give you a preview of what to expect including:

  • Other trails nearby and what else to explore.
  • How not to get lost on it.
  • The best places on the trail to check out.
  • And more.

Quick info about the Boulder Rock trail:

  • Name: Boulder Rock Trail (portion of the Escarpment Trail)
  • Location: Catskill Mountains (North South Lake area)
  • Distance: 2-3 miles (multiple ways to do it)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Rating: 4 out of 5

Here are a few ways to do the Boulder Rock trail:

Option 1 (easiest):

boulder rock catskills trail option 1

  1. Start at the North Lake parking lot (A)
  2. Take the blue trail up to Boulder Rock (B).
  3. Return back the same way.
  4. Other options are available but this will put you on the greater blue trail (known as Escarpment) and you will need a map to navigate it better.

That’s the easiest option out of them all and it’s about a 1-2 mile out and back trail (which most people do). Other intersecting trails are available, but I would only do them if you have a map and know how to navigate so you don’t get lost in the woods. You have 2 options for this:

  1. Getting an official map when you enter the North South Lake Campground from the ranger station.
  2. Using Alltrails and getting maps there.

boulder rock catskills viewing area

What to expect:

  1. From the North South Lake parking, it’s a short incline to a beautiful viewing area.
  2. From the viewing area begins the trailhead to the blue trail which shows the Catskill Mountain House (no longer around).
  3. You will enter the woods to start this trail and it will be a steep incline for about 1/4 of a mile.
  4. As you go through this incline, you will pass multiple overlook areas.
  5. From there you will continue to head south along the blue trail and this will take you to Boulder Rock. There will be some inclines but overall nothing too strenuous.
  6. From Boulder Rock, there will be some beautiful spots nearby to explore. Anything past that is a bit boring in my opinion. I’d just turn back from this spot and head back to the parking lot.

Option 2 (Moderate):

boulder rock catskills trail option 2

  • Start at the Harding Road trailhead.
  • Follow the red trail up to the top of the mountain.
  • Turn right when the blue trail appears (now you’ll be on it).
  • Take it to Boulder Rock.
  • Return back on the yellow trail which takes you through 2 major Catskill waterfalls.
  • Exit on Road 23A and head east (down) until you reach Fawn’s Leap.
  • Explore Fawn’s Leap and hike down the river back to Harding Road trailhead.

What to expect from this trail:

This was a custom made trail my buddy and I made and it didn’t involve taking any official trails. This one intersected with a few on the mountain so if you wish to do this, make sure you’re advanced. You’ll start at the Harding Road trailhead and shortly after beginning the hike see this abandoned RV:

boulder rock catskills start of long trail

As you reach Boulder Rock on the blue trail and continue, you’ll reach the yellow trail and follow that down to Kaaterskill Falls:

kaaterskill falls after boulder rock trail

You will then continue down the yellow trail to the road, then take the road towards Fawn’s Leap, one of the most crowded swimming holes in the Catskills. You will then go downstream, and follow that to this beautiful waterfall in the Catskills, which is near Fawn’s Leap:

waterfall in the catskills on boulder rock trail

Continue downstream till you reach this beautiful gorge:

gorge trail near boulder rock

From there, it’s simple: Keep going downstream and you’ll reach Rat’s Hole Park (another crowded swimming hole). From there you can continue downstream or head out of the area to the road, and follow that back to the original parking area which is about a half mile from Rat’s Hole Park.

The Boulder Rock trail is actually just the tip of a much larger trail:

boulder rock area photo

Boulder Rock is one scenic area in the blue trail and that trail is known as Escarpment trail which spans across the southern and eastern ends of North South Lake and I recommend you explore more of it because there are a lot of other amazing sights to see along it!

Related Catskills articles:

If you have any questions about hiking the Boulder Rock trail, let me know below!

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