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Winter Hikes in the Catskills

Hiking in winter requires more planning and more gear than hiking during the summer or fall – but that shouldn’t dissuade you from enjoying a winter walk in the woods. With a little more planning, more layers, and more preparation, you can experience the snow-covered landscape of the Great Northern Catskills in new ways.

Where to Hike

Find the best winter views in the Catskills on these hiking trails and find out what to pack and wear for your next winter hiking excursion.

Artist's Rock

Accessible year-round from North-South Lake State Campground in Haines Falls, Artist’s Rock, Sunset Rock, and Newman’s Ledge are scenic overlooks located along this loop, making for a classic Great Northern Catskills winter hike. Minimal miles coupled with outstanding views make this a great intermediate excursion for anyone who enjoys being outdoors in winter. Park at the entrance to North-South Lake and take Mary’s Glen Trail and follow the 4.6-mile roundtrip loop for views of the Hudson River and mountain peaks in the Catskill Park. Plan for half a day of hiking.

Mountain Top Arboretum

This public garden in Tannersville is open year-round, from dawn until dusk, and is perfect for winter snowshoeing or hiking. Take the Woodland Walk trails for an easy-to-navigate nature walk and experience the Spruce Glen where towering coniferous trees add to the picturesque views. Four diverse environments make up the arboretum. Plan for 30-45 minutes of walking per area.

Catskill Mountain House Overlook

This scenic overlook was so inspiring to early settlers of the Catskills, one developer put a grand hotel and a cable railroad in for guests to access it. The grand hotel, the Catskill Mountain House, is itself a mere memory, but the views are still breathtaking. Park at the entrance to North-South Lake and take the short 1.7-mile loop trail to the overlook. Stay clear of the edge of the cliff as winter weather causes slippery conditions. Plan for a few hours of hiking.

Acra Point and Batavia Kill Loop

This hike is ideal in winter, when trees are bared of leaves, offering spectacular views you can only get in winter. A DEC-maintained parking lot off of County Route 56 leads to a 5.06-mile loop to the point and back. In winter, plan for a half-day to complete this hike. Enjoy views of the Blackhead Mountain Range that are especially beautiful first thing in the morning. The trail can be hiked, snowshoed, or cross-country skied in winter.

How to Prepare

What to Pack

  1. Matches for emergencies
  2. First aid kit
  3. Plenty of water and snacks
  4. A small knife or multitool
  5. Toilet paper
  6. A headlamp with extra batteries
  7. A map of the trail

What to Wear

The number one rule for winter hiking is to dress in layers. It’s easier to take a layer off than to stay warm without one. In winter, the weather and temperatures are unpredictable. Plan and dress accordingly. Here’s a shortlist to keep you comfortable during your winter hiking trips in the Catskills:

  1. Insulated hiking boots
  2. Microspikes for traction
  3. Warm socks (sock liners optional)
  4. High gaiters and/or waterproof hardshell pants
  5. Insulated hat and gloves
  6. Waterproof and windproof jacket
  7. Mid-layer insulation such as a fleece jacket or vest
  8. Base-layer Insulation such a long underwear in a moisture-wicking wool blend.

Don’t forget to sign in at trailheads on state land, let someone know when and where you’ll be hiking, and always practice Leave No Trace Principles.