Catskill Outdoor Recreation Bulletin

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
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Catskill Outdoor Recreation Bulletin 

This bulletin provides the most recent notices. Check the Catskill Backcountry Information webpages for more detailed information on access, outdoor recreation infrastructure, and conditions.

Emergency Situations: If you get lost or injured; keep calm and stay put. If you have cell service, call 911 or the DEC Forest Ranger Emergency Dispatch, 518-891-5850.

Hike Smart by packing the proper gear. See our recommended packing list and safety tips.

Welcome to the Catskills

The Welcome to the Catskills webpage is the place to go if you are interested in learning more about the Catskills. It provides information about the Forest Preserve and conservation easement lands, outdoor recreation opportunities, and Leave No Trace. Be sure to check out the links to additional information and tips for recreating safely and minimizing your impacts on natural resources, recreational infrastructure, and other backcountry users in the Catskill Mountains.

Catskills Visitor Center

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Catskills Visitor Center building is temporarily closed to the public. A walk-up window has been installed for visitor information and map sales. Staff is on site to answer questions in person, via phone or email Monday- Saturday from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. 


Stop by on your way to the trails for latest park news, local maps, information and more!

Contact the Catskills Visitor Center for more questions.

845.688.3369 |

Hike Safe Tip of the Week: With cooler evenings and chilly night time temperatures upon us, it’s important to start preparing for cooler conditions when camping or while on exposed mountain sides and summits. This week’s tip is to pack a lightweight warm jacket (synthetic or down insulated) for hikes and backpacking trips. This extra layer will ensure you stay comfy even when temperatures dip into shivery conditions.

Play Smart * Play Safe * Play Local

Graphic featuring 2 hikers with masksNew York State’s PLAY SMART * PLAY SAFE * PLAY LOCAL campaign encourages residents to engage in responsible recreation during the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis. New York State DEC and State Parks recommendations for getting outside safely incorporate guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Department of Health for reducing the spread of infectious diseases. This guidance urges New Yorkers to recreate locally, practice physical distancing, show respect for all outdoor adventurers, and use common sense to protect themselves and others. 

Take the Pledge to PLAY SMART * PLAY SAFE * PLAY LOCAL: Enjoy the Outdoors Safely and Responsibly

  1. I pledge to respect the rules and do my part to keep parks, beaches, trails, boat launches, and other public spaces safe for everyone.
  2. I will stay local and close to home.
  3. I will maintain a safe distance from others outside of my household.
  4. I will wear a mask when I cannot maintain social distancing.
  5. I accept that this summer, I may have to adjust how I enjoy the outdoors to help keep myself and others healthy and safe, even if it means changing my plans to visit a public space.
  6. I will be respectful of others by letting them pass by me if needed on a trail and keeping my blanket 10 feet apart from others on the beach.
  7. I will move quickly through shared areas like parking lots, trailheads, and scenic areas to avoid crowding.
  8. If I'm not feeling well, I will stay home.

Use the hashtags #PlaySmartPlaySafePlayLocal, #RecreateResponsibly, and #RecreateLocal on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share how you get outside safely, responsibly, and locally. Visit to learn more. 

What’s Local? Consistent with the NYForward phased reopening plan, DEC and State Parks are encouraging New Yorkers to recreate locally in their region. Use DECinfo Locator to find a DEC-managed resource near you and visit the State Parks website for information about parks and park closures.

Social Distancing Guidelines: Follow DEC’s guidelines for social distancing while recreating outdoors.

Pack A Mask: New Yorkers are required to wear masks in public when appropriate social distancing cannot be maintained, including on trails, on summits, in parking lots and in the backcountry.

Keep it Clean: A new DEC Public Service Announcement reminds outdoor adventurers to Play Smart * Play Safe * Play Local while keeping natural areas litter-free.

COVID-19 Travel Restrictions: Pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Order 205, visitors coming from travel restricted states will not be issued camping permits and will not be allowed to stay on state lands until they have completed a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Quarantining on state land is not permitted.

Hike within the Limits of Your Physical Abilities and Experience
Catskill lands and forests are patrolled by Forest Rangers and Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) and other staff. These officers and staff respond to, and assist, local agencies with search and rescue missions, wildfire suppression, and more. Following this guidance (PDF) will prevent unnecessary burdens on, and dangers to, state resources and frontline emergency first responders during the ongoing COVID-19 response.

DEC has additional guidance for boating/paddlinganglers, and hunters.

General Conditions: Be Prepared


Always remember to practice Leave No Trace. You can start with the first principle, Plan Ahead and Prepare.

As with any outdoor activity, proper planning and preparation is key. Research camping and Viewhiking regulations for the area you will be visiting. Illegal camping can have devastating impacts on fragile ecosystems and can lead to hefty fines if you are caught. Have back-up plans in case the site you want is taken. Check the weather and bring the right gear to keep you safe and comfortable. Pack plenty of food and water and bring a back-up method of filtering water. Have a plan for storing food to prevent human-animal encounters.

Before you hit the trail, check out DEC’s Hike Smart NY page to learn about safety, best practices, and preparedness. While recreating in the Catskills, please follow the Hiker Responsibility Code and avoid busy trailheads. Discover trails less traveled and visit when trails may not be as busy.

Seek out less-used trails and avoid busy trailheads. If you arrive and find a trailhead is crowded, seek out another place to recreate. 

Trailhead Registers: Trailhead registers provide vital information, so please continue to sign in and out. During the COVID-19 public health crisis, take special precautions while using trailhead registers to minimize spread of the virus through commonly touched surfaces, such as pencils and the registers themselves. Follow these guidelines when using trailhead registers to prevent the spread of coronavirus:

  • Only one person per group should register. Others in the group should stay away from the register.
  • If someone is at a register when you approach, stand at least six feet away and wait for them to leave before you approach.
  • Bring your own pencil or pen.
  • Minimize touching surfaces.
  • Carry hand sanitizer and use it immediately before and after using the register.
  • Avoid coughing and sneezing while at the register. If you must cough or sneeze, move away from the register and hand sanitize before returning.

Fire Towers: Only one household group should be in the fire tower cab at a time. Groups should social distance on the summit while waiting to climb to the cab. Be sure to sanitize your hands before and after being on the fire tower, and remember to wear your masks.

Hiking with Dogs: DEC warns against bringing dogs hiking in the summer, especially in warm to hot temperatures and on bright sunny days. Dogs hiking in warm temperatures are at risk of experiencing heat exhaustion and death – especially older, larger, and overweight dogs and dogs who are not used to strenuous physical activity. In addition to air temperature, scalding rocks on exposed hikes can quickly raise a dog’s body temperature. If your dog does collapse, quickly move to create shade for the dog, cool their feet and stomach, and give them time to rest and rehydrate. If you do bring your dog hiking, bring lots of water for them, give them frequent opportunities to rest and hydrate, monitor them closely, and turn around if they start to show signs of distress.

Be Tick Free

  • Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily.
  • Wear enclosed shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots, and shirt into pants.
  • Consider using insect repellent on your clothing. 
  • Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails. Walk in the center of trails. Avoid dense woods and bushy areas.
  • Keep long hair tied back.
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after going indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that may be on you.
  • Do a final, full-body tick check at the end of the day (also check children and pets), and remove ticks promptly.

Mountain Summits: Check the National Weather Service to prepare for the weather conditions.

Fire Danger: Low. Check the DEC Fire Danger Map for updated conditions.

Campfires: Please remember to practice the fifth principle of Leave No Trace, Minimize Campfire Impacts. Make sure campfires are allowed where you are. Know the current wildfire danger levels – if the risk is high, consider not having a fire. Keep fires small. Use only dead, already downed, and small wood. Never cut trees for firewood, even if they appear dead. Be aware of your surroundings, and do not build fires near other flammable material. Never leave fires unattended, and make sure they are completely extinguished (cold to the touch) before going to bed or leaving the site. Stirring water or dirt into the remains of the fire can help. Learn more about campfire safety.

Trash in the Backcountry: DEC is receiving increased reports of visitors leaving trash behind after trips to state lands, waters, and facilities. DEC reminds outdoor adventurers to follow the principles of Leave No Trace and keep New York's environment clean  by properly disposing of waste.

Be Bear Aware

Bears have an acute sense of smell and may attempt to consume anything they perceive as edible, including improperly stored garbage, birdseed, livestock, pet food, and barbecue grill grease traps. Once a bear has discovered a food source, it may return or seek similar foods at neighboring properties, learning bad behavior that can damage human property and may lead to the death of the bear. Follow the tips below to reduce human-bear interactions:

Do not feed bears intentionally. Feeding bears intentionally is illegal and a ticketable offense. Bears that obtain food from humans will continue to seek food from humans and become nuisance bears, which can pose a threat to humans.

Campers and visitors should follow the following guidance to reduce potential bear conflicts:

  1. Keep campsites and lean-tos as clean as possible.
  2. Clean up after all meals immediately. Keep grills, pots, pans, cooking utensils, and wash basins clean when not in use.
  3. Leave coolers and food inside car trunks or truck cabs.
  4. Store food and coolers in food lockers when available.
  5. Never keep food, coolers, or scented items in tents when camping. Store toiletries securely with coolers and food.
  6. Do not put grease, garbage, plastic diapers, cans, bottles, or other refuse in the fireplace.
  7. Dispose of garbage in the campground's dumpsters every evening.

Please remember to practice the sixth principle of Leave No Trace, Respect Wildlife.
Wildlife might wander into or near your campsite. Remember that you are a visitor in their home. Give them plenty of space and keep quiet. Never feed wildlife. Human food can be harmful to animals and create an unnatural and unsustainable dependency on people. Keep your food secured to prevent accidental wildlife feeding.

Recent Notices

  • DEC Temporarily Reducing Permits to Visit Peekamoose Blue Hole: During the State’s ongoing response to COVID-19, DEC is temporarily reducing by half (from 50 to 25) the number of permits issued per day to visit the Peekamoose Blue Hole in the town of Denning. DEC permits are required to visit this site on weekends and holidays from May 15 - October 15. Permits are available as late as one day in advance, but no more than seven days in advance. You can acquire permits from Reserve America
  • The Tremper Mountain Fire Tower cab (very top of tower) is now accessible to visitors at all times as part of a pilot program to increase access to state facilities. Please wear a face mask when visiting a tower, and use hand sanitizer before and after climbing to protect other hikers and fire tower volunteers. Volunteers are working diligently, through a volunteer partnership between DEC and the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, to provide staffing to open the fire tower cabs and educate visitors at many locations throughout the Catskill Forest Preserve. For more information on Fire Towers please visit DEC's website
  • Peekamoose primitive campsites in the Sundown Wild Forest are open. Please practice Leave No Trace and carry out everything you carry in.
  • Croton Gorge Unique Area: DEC has temporarily closed access to Croton Gorge Unique Area in the Town of Cortlandt, Westchester County, due to its unique features that do not provide for appropriate social distancing during the ongoing COVID-19 response.
  • Kaaterskill Falls is open and can be accessed from the Laurel House Road and Scutt Road parking areas. However, the Molly Smith parking area and the Kaaterskill Falls Trail from NY 23A to the base of the lower falls will continue to remain closed for trail construction. All cars parking illegally along Route 23A in the Kaaterskill Clove area are at risk of being ticketed and towed.
  • Roads leading to the North-South Lake Campground have been reopened and campground day use has been reduced to 50 percent. DEC recommends calling the campground ahead of time to see if capacity has been reached. The phone number for the campground booth is (518) 589-5058. 

Leave No Trace

Leave No TraceFollow the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace to maintain minimal impact on the environment and the natural resources of the Catskills. Use proper trail etiquette to ensure an enjoyable experience for yourself and others and tread lightly!