Catskills -- Central



View Catskills -- Central in a larger map

Park Overview:

Includes a short hike from the south to Panther Mountain -- one of the Catskill 3500  Club’s “must climb” peaks -- with great views along the way at Giant Ledge.  [TC Catskill Trail Map 142]

Trail Uses:Hiking
Dogs:Dogs off leash
Trail Miles:90 miles
Park Acreage:
Various towns /Delaware/
Buy Trail Map:Catskill Trails Map
Trail Conference volunteers maintain trails in this park.
Park Description:

Most of the peaks in the Central Catskills are not as high as those in the Northeastern area of the region. Nevertheless, the lands in Ulster County's western corner and nearby Delaware County and northern Sullivan County offer many hiking opportunities.  Several of the major peaks have superb views; this table lists them in order of elevation.  A fuller description of each peak can be found by clicking on the “Catskill 3500 Club” link below, follow the “Peaks” tab. 




TC Map


Graham ●  




Doubletop ● ■




Balsam Lake








Big Indian ● ■




Fir ● ■




North Dome ● ■












Sherrill ● ■




Halcott ● ■




● Does not have maintained trail to summit

■ Register box on summit maintained by Catskill 3500 Club



Trails Overview:

Catskills – Central has 15 trails ranging in length from 14+ miles down to one mile; they total 90 miles.  These trails are displayed on NY-NJ Trail Conference “Central Catskill Trails” Map 142.  The map’s reverse provides information about trailheads and turning points tied to mileage.

New trail added in mid-2014:  A 9-mile stretch of the Long Path in the Slide Mountain Wilderness area now links the Village of Phoenicia to Catskill High Peaks.  The new trail section replaces 5 miles of road walk and 2.8 miles of Burroughs Range Trail with a beautiful, rugged route over Cross Mountain, Mount Pleasant, and Romer Mountain, offering viewpoints along the way.

  • Access is either from Lane Street in Phoenicia or the Woodland Valley State Campground parking area.  [TC 2013 Catskills “Central” Map 142, grid K6 or K7].  The trail appears as a dotted line “Under Construction” on this map.
  • A map of the new trail, now officially designated as an extension of the Phoenicia-East Branch Trail, can be downloaded from here

Two major north-south trail systems connect NY 28 with County 47 [Slide Mountain Road or West Branch Road].  Although both of these trails are suitable for backpacking, they are most often used by day hikers, who hike sections of these trails to reach their destination.

  • Pine Hill-West Branch Trail [14.1 miles, blue blaze, map grid locations I5/I7, trail map designation PW].  Although this trail has few viewpoints, it nevertheless offers an appealing wilderness sojourn, running mostly through first-growth forest and reaching [or nearly reaching] three major summits.  Several lean-tos on or near the trail make it attractive for backpacking, and a network of side trails branching down to the valleys affords excellent day-hiking opportunities.
    • The trail's southern terminus is just opposite the Biscuit Brook parking area, on County 47, 12.8 miles south of its junction with NY 28 in the hamlet of Big Indian [this is displayed on TC Map 143].  Its northern terminus is on the outskirts of Pine Hill, along NY 28.
  • Giant Ledge-Panther-Fox Hollow Trail [7.5 miles, blue blaze, map grid J6/J7, trail designation GP].  This trail provides access to the 3,720-foot Panther Mountain from both the north and south.  The shorter southern approach [at 3.3 miles] which traverses Giant Ledge on the way to the summit of Panther, is very popular with hikers.  Fewer hikers choose to approach Panther from the north, and although this route is longer [4.9 miles], it offers greater seclusion and several attractive vistas from a series of false summits.
    • To reach the southern end, hikers should use the parking area at a hairpin turn on County 47, 7.4 miles south of the hamlet of Big Indian and a mile north of Winnisook Lake. Follow the Phoenicia-East Branch Trail [yellow] 0.7 mile to the trailhead.  Its northern terminus is at a parking area on Fox Hollow Road, 1.6 miles south of NY 28 near Allaben.

Other notable trails include:

  • Dry Brook Ridge Trail [13.6 miles, blue blaze, map grid F6/G7. trail designation DB]. The Dry Brook Ridge Trail can be divided into two distinct sections.  The northern section is a nine-mile traverse of the ridge for which the trail is named.  It is lightly used and does not go over or near any major peaks.  The trail section south of Mill Brook Road is a woods road which provides access to Balsam Lake Mountain and a fire tower [via Balsam Lake Mountain Trail, red blaze, map grid G7] and is used more extensively.
    • The northern terminus is reached by turning south off NY 28, 0.4 mile southwest of the traffic light at Margaretville, and going 0.1 mile to South Side Road, which parallels NY 28.  The parking area along Mill Brook Road [off County 49, Dry Brook Road], provides access to the southern section of the trail.
  • Mill Brook Ridge Trail [5.9 miles, yellow blaze, map grid F7/G7, trail designation MB].  Mill Brook Ridge Trail is the longest route to the summit of Balsam Lake Mountain, but it is lightly used and provides a delightful approach to the peak.  It also provides a link between the trails in the western Catskills and those in the central Catskills.
    • The trail's western terminus is at the eastern end of Alder Lake.  The Alder Lake Loop Trail [1.6 miles, red blaze], which encircles the lake, provides access from the parking area at its western end, and is reached by following County 54 north from Turnwood.

See Map Tab above with parking areas identified for these trails.

Synopsis of trails not mentioned above:

  • Belleayre Ridge Trail [14.1 miles, red blaze, map grid H5/I6, designation BR]: Trail begins at top of Chairlift #1 and summit ski lodge of Belleayre Ski Center.
  • Cathedral Glen Trail [1.7m, blue, I5/H5, CG]: Trail begins on an abandoned railroad right-of-way, near Belleayre Ski Center snowmaking reservoir, and ascends moderately along east side of Cathedral Brook through hemlock and hardwoods.
  • German Hollow Trail [1.6m, yellow, F5/G5, GH]: Trail begins at junction with blue-blazed Dry Brook Trail, 2.6m from its trailhead near Margaretville.
  • Huckleberry Loop Trail [10.3 miles, red, F5/G6, HL]: Trail begins at junction with blue-blazed Dry Brook Ridge Trail, 3.55m south of Margaretville.
  • Lost Cove Trail [1.3 miles, red, I6, LC]:  Trail begins on Lost Cove Road 1.4m west of County Rt. 47. Trail ascends into woods, climbing ridge of Belleayre Mtn.
  • Mine Hollow Trail [1.0m, yellow, I6/H6, MN]: Trail begins at junction with blue-blazed Pine Hill – West Branch Trail, 0.9m south of Belleayre Mtn. summit, and heads down [south then east] through Mine Hollow, paralleling stream’s north bank.
  • Oliverea-Mapledale Trail [3.7m, red, I6/H6, OM]: Trail begins at parking area on McKinley Hollow Road, 1.0m west of County 47, near Mountain Gate Lodge.  Continue west along road for 0.1m, then turn left and follow red markers along brook.
  • Phoenicia-East Branch Trail [5.3m, yellow, K7/J7, PE]: Trail begins at parking area near end of Woodland Valley Road, at entrance to Woodland Valley State Campground [parking fee in season].  Follow yellow markers to steps at rear of parking area, then continue ascent to shoulder of Fork Ridge.
  • Seager-Big Indian Trail [3.0m. yellow, H7/I7, SE]:  Trail begins at covered bridge near Seager, 9.5m from Arkville via Dry Brook Road.  Parking area is 150’ beyond [not over] bridge.  Trail proceeds upstream, following old road.


State Lands Outside the Blue Line

  • Bearpen Mountain. The 3,600-foot summit at Bearpen Mountain is the highest in New York outside the Catskill Park Boundary. Several decades ago, it was developed as a ski area, leaving it with both an easily walked road to the summit and two wide, cleared swaths that provide views to the north.
    • Ski Run Road, [TC Map 145, no blaze, I3] the easiest access to the peak, leaves County 2 about three miles south of its junction with NY 23 just west of Prattsville. [For approximate location, Google Maps: "Ski Run Road, Prattsville, NY"]
  • Huntersfield Mountain. A little-used section of the Long Path [aqua blaze, this segment not included in the Catskills map set] allows hikers to climb this impressive peak, Scholarie County's highest at 3,423 feet.
    • The trailhead is located near where Huntersmark and Macomber Road enters state forest lands, north of Red Falls. The Long Path's aqua blazes cross the road where it forks at a state forest sign and gate.
  • Mount Utsayantha. Towering over the Town of Stamford, this 3,214-foot peak stands at the northwest corner of the range. Its main attraction is the fire tower that stands on the summit [also not included in TC map set].
    • Access to the summit is via an old road which begins at Mountain Avenue, just south of NY 23 in Stamford. It is an easy walk of just over a mile to the summit.

Trailhead locations of featured trails are above.

General driving directions:

Take the NYS Thruway, I-87, to Exit 19, Kingston/NY-28 (from the south this is roughly 60 miles from where NJ-17 and I-287/87 merge).  Turn onto NY-28 West, Onterora Trail.  Route 28W passes by Phoenicia, on the eastern side of the Central Catskills to Margaretville on its western side.  Margaretville is a little short of 45 miles from Exit 19.   

Public Transportation:

The Adirondack, Pine Hill, New York Trailways bus company provides service from the Port Authority Bus Terminal, at 8th Avenue and 42nd Street, to towns along NY-28 in the Central Catskills [TC Map 142 identifies the location of these bus stops].

Contact Information:NYS, Department of Environmental Conservation

Comment: Please be relevant, civil, non-commercial.

Help where are the Volunteers

Just a note for those trail maintainers. We hiked from Arden Brook to the FireTower on Saturday 8.15.15. The trail was well marked with trail markers nailed into trees. The actual trails were almost totally overgrown. As if we were the first Hikers to have been there  in a couple of years. Please help, the trail was unnavigable except for the Advanced Hiker

What trail are you talking about?

You refer to a hike from Arden Brook to the fire tower, but Arden Brook is in Harriman, not in the Catskills, and there is no fire tower on Balsam Mountain.  Moreover, the trails up Balsam Mountain are heavily used and not overgrown.  You must be talking about some other hike, not the one described here.

Alder Creek Rd parking Trail 'Y' to Balsam Lake Mtn

We parked at Alder Lake then Hiked The Mill Brook Ridge Trail to The Balsam Lake FireTower in Hardenburg, NY. Sorry for the confusion, but I did post my comment on the Catskill Trail page.