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I consider this hike to be like a salad and steak type of hike. The road to the top (which is 2.5 miles making this actually a 5 mile hike) is rather mundane. However, when you get to the hotel ruins, it’s fascinating to explore. You then do the last pitch up to the summit to see a great Firetower and without a doubt the best views in the Catskills. We got there at 8:00 and got good parking. We were back at 10:15 and the parking lot was full. There is more parking 1/2 mile up the road, but this will add a mile to your hike. The best Firetower hike in the Catskills.

Made it with the kids to the fall. Definitely bring extra socks as there’s several muddy and wet patches on trail. Great fun day.

The ruins were really cool to see and the view from the top is beautiful

Basically walking up a driveway. The hike itself isn't that visually stimulating but the views from the top are what make this a 5 star hike.

Can be very muddy and slippery if there has been rain recently. Otherwise quite pleasant and accurately described.

I was so impressed by how well-maintained the trail is! The stairs and bridge made the trail feel very safe despite being on a pretty steep incline. Even though it was a short distance, the rocks to climb and bigger switchback near the topmost tier of the falls made me feel like I was still getting a great hike in.

I could see it getting very busy during the afternoon (and was told so by someone I bumped into on my way down), but getting there around 8 am allowed me to park in the first lot with easy access to the trailhead and have the trail nearly entirely to myself - including the upper observation deck, on which I got to look at the falls by myself for quite a while. It’s a gorgeous view and was a perfect fall hike.

hiking
16 days ago

Easy trail in summer and early fall. Watch out for slick rocks during rain and especially ice patches in the winter. The amphitheater midway through the larger falls is just incredible. Several people die here each year, so be careful. It helps to take a single trekking pole for balance and insurance. I did and I’m glad I did. Have fun! This place is breathtaking in October.

great hike

I was ready to hate this trail. It’s just uphill for 1,500ft of elevation on a fire road for almost an hour. Which is pretty awful. I have to say, once we got up to the abandoned hotel, and then probably one of the best overlooks I’ve seen? It is worth it. If you’re willing to put up with a craptacualr hike to see some cool shit, this is the trail.

We had great time at this trail.
We went to the caskill house look out first, then turn on the blue trail, artist rock, sunset rock to Newman Ledge. Then turned back the same trail back to north Lake parking lot. We saw the rainbow nearby Sunset Rock, twice & two rainbows. Amazing. It was very windy, raining & cold when we got to the sunset rock site; less then 10mins. Need to go back again.

Hiked the Escarpment Trail counterclockwise. Walked down the little detour to the Kaaterskill Falls and made a loop behind the upper falls. This is not to be missed as the falls are in a spectacular setting and if you're careful and have good boots, you can carefully walk behind the falls and make a loop around the upper basin, explicit warnings of "deaths have occurred in this area" in mind.
I then continued on the Escarpment Trail to Layman's Monument, Inspiration Point, Boulder Rock, and the site of the Catskill Mountain House (CMH).
Note that the Alltrails map shows a trail that is supposed to run parallel to South Lake Road, beginning a bit south of the CMH. However, I could not find the first section, even after verifying the GPS location. So I hiked back to Boulder Rock and found the trail, but there are no trail markers and it turned out to be a rather wild trail that seems barely used and is not maintained. The GPS was really needed in this section, as I lost the barely visible trail multiple times. There were multiple fallen trees, mossy and hollow ground, and an overall feeling of being in the middle of the wild, which is very nice if you're into that. I eventually came out onto South Lake road and made a left on the South Lake Access Rd which brought me back to the Escarpment Trail.
The entire hike with these extensions was 8 miles, but next time I'll probably stick to the original loop, just adding the Kaaterskill Falls viewing platform and a hike down to the basins.

Beautiful area of New York if you want to get out of the city. Single female 30 yo and went by myself. Took about 2.5 hours taking my time. The hike itself is mostly walking up a wide gravel path, there are no switchbacks or rock climbing. Loved seeing the old hotel and the view is worth the hike. I would recommend this to all ages and levels.

No rock scrambling or anything like that and not really even a trail but still tough because of the 2.5 mile walk all uphill until you reach the top. Amazing views just beyond the old hotel and an old fire tower that you can go up for even better views.

Very pretty but steep hike. Trail really isn’t hard because it’s more like a gravel road but the incline does dramatically increase at points. However on my way down I did see a toddler doing this so don’t be afraid! The view is stunning!

hiking
23 days ago

Took the West trail. It turns out that was a great idea because you encounter the muddy portions early and leave the best for last. That includes the waterfalls, the climb besides the running brook and the beach/picnic area. It is a easy trail and has all the scenic elements built into the 3.2 mile hike: waterfalls, elevation, lake, trees and a beaver lodge!! It was past peak fall so missed that magic but it was still a great hike.

on Halcott Mountain

23 days ago

I hiked this on a solo attempt in November of 2003. I will never forget it. No trail, I just followed the contour lines up and my friends description. I summited in no time, already planning a second hike on my way up. On the descent, clouds quickly rolled in and the whole mountain was wrapped in fog. All the features across the valley I was using for reference disappeared. I was young, and panicked. Started almost running down, and slipped. Pulled my groin. I should have stopped to regroup and hike back up to start over, but couldn’t. Long story short, I ended up at base of mountain on the north side. WAY off trail. Took me the rest of the day to find the road and hitchhike to a bus and back to my car. Lesson learned: don’t make decisions while panicking, and obviously use a GPS! Haha. I didn’t have one back then. Great hike otherwise tho.

the first 45 min are tough as it is all uphill. the abandoned hotel and view up top are really nice and worth it :)

Extremely rocky and muddy but I had on good hiking boots. I could not believe what I saw some people wearing on their feet. I don’t suggest doing this trail without hiking boots. The trail itself was pretty nice but the view from the point was spectacular! Definitely worth the hike.

The falls itself is beautiful when viewed from either the upper viewing deck or from below. A strong word of caution is that in wet weather the trail down to the falls becomes very wet and extremely slippery. The trail itself is narrow and borders a sharp cliff before transforming into the rock steps that guides hikers to the falls themselves. People are frequently injured on this descent and I would advise groups to take their time be careful with children and be mindful of the weather to ensure all can have a safe fun time enjoying the beautiful scenery.

I am extremely disappointed in how visitors of the Catskills behave when they’re at the falls. Whether it’s the lower or upper falls trail, people always seem to be making it a mess for everyone else. People parking and standing in the middle of the road, standing in the middle of the road to direct traffic while they back their cars right up to the falls, parking all over the side of the mountain road (at least they get ticketed), going way too close to the cliff edges, swimming in the water right before the waterfall...I can’t believe it. People act out of line at the falls and it’s unsafe for them as well as the people who are just driving up the road. The falls is one of the most beautiful places in the Catskills but skip it if you’re not in the mood to deal with disrespectful visitors. If people don’t shape up, they’ll ruin it for everyone and the falls will be closed. Hopefully a shuttle system from Palenville or Haines Falls will fix this. But for now, visit any of the less crowded waterfalls near by.

26 days ago

A very nice hike. Not overly challenging, but a rewarding view at the top.

Awesome fall colors illuminated the forests leading to Kaaterskill falls. A little steep at times and leaves make for slightly slippery terrian. but overall fantastic hike.

A nice moderate intro to Catskills hiking with an honestly arduous climb to the summit, stunning views, a fire tower to play on, and gothic-like ruins of an abandoned hotel to ponder. Do continue another 1.5 miles to serene Echo Lake for its beauty and hiking variety. The downside: the trail to Overlook is more ho-hum gravel road than true trail (undergoing machine grading when I visited), and trailhead parking can be challenging during busy hiking times.

its is a tough trail going up and going down! yet its beautiful when you reach the top!

amazing views, great hike rock scramble was fun. Get their early or you will park 3 miles down the road.

Did this today with my two kids aged 10 and 13. Had an awesome hike. We forgot to bring water but some nice fellow hikers were kind enough to share with us. Thanks to Louise Hay and positive affirmations (had been listening to Louise in the car to the trailhead and my daughter did affirmations on water literally two minutes before some strangers offered water unprompted).

Lovely moderate hike. We we to take-in the beginning of the Fall and see the foliage. We started at the North Lake ground, as suggested, and followed the Blue trail to Artist Rock and Sunset Rock (both amazing views). Then continued all the way up to North Point. That was an amazing spot to sit and take in the stunning views. We followed the red trail back down through the forest, which was also pretty great. Note that the red path finishes on the road, and you have to walk on the road for 10 minutes to complete the loop.

Amazing view from the top of the fire tower

hiking
30 days ago

Trailhead parking off of State Highway 23A is limited—be prepared to walk 1/2 mile from the lower lot along blind curves and small shoulders. Follow the trail from Bastion Falls to the base of Kaaterskill Falls. From there, you can choose to enjoy from below and double back or hike up the stairs to a middle falls viewpoint. Be careful: a kid nearly skipped off the edge (loose rocks, mud, and waterfall spray make it very slippery). Continue up the stairs and through a short forest walk a Spruce Creek bridge. There are two viewing places after that: one fenced off (that many were ignoring to hang their boots over the top of the waterfall ledge—and whose feet are in my photos) and a viewing platform with beautiful views of Kaaterskill High Peak and Roundtop Mountain. Aside from blunt safety ignorances and the crowded parking/trail: I understand why everyone wants their photo in front of the falls. This is one of the few hikes I'd say go later in the day as the falls face West.

Loved! Definitely challenging, but a good challenging.

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