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Hiking in the Catskills: Recommended beginner trails, getting there and gear

The Catskills offer dramatic views, with not much

The Catskills offer dramatic views, with not much effort, said author Derek Dellinger. Photo Credit: Darren McGee / I Love NY

When he lived in New York City a few years back, Derek Dellinger would take a train or drive to the Catskills most weekends to go hiking.

“I found it was a really great way to combat some of the stress and frustration of living in the city,” said the writer and brewer. “And there are some neat trails that are incredibly accessible from New York.”

Dellinger, who today lives in Beacon, recently co-authored “50 Hikes in the Catskills” ($19.95, Countryman Press) with friend and fellow hiker Matthew Cathcart.

“I think a lot of the attention goes to the Adirondacks — the Catskills I think got overlooked for a while,” Dellinger said. “But I think that’s changing — people are revisiting the Catskills as a prime tourism destination.”

As the title says, Dellinger covers 50 hikes in his book, but he recommended three that are good for people coming from New York: North Point; Artist Rock; and Inspiration Point and Layman’s Monument. They’re not too hard or remote, can be done in 2 to 3 miles and all start from the same region — the lake at the North-South Lake Campground near Tannersville.

“You can go there just for the day without camping, or you can pay to camp there overnight,” Dellinger said. “Either way, it’s a great jumping-off point for hikes that will introduce you to what the Catskills have to offer. The drop-offs on the eastern side of the valley — the mountains just kind of stop and you can see for miles and miles and miles. They’re great views without a lot of effort.”

GETTING THERE

Since there’s no train that runs to the Catskills, you’ll need a car to get to the region, Dellinger advised. That also makes it easier if you’re planning on making a weekend of it and camping.

TO PACK

Proper shoes: “The thing that in my experience from hiking with other people, the thing that can often handicap you is not having the right shoes,” Dellinger said. It’s especially important to have shoes that are comfortable and “are going to hold up to the abuse of hiking a couple miles on a trail. Shoes with a good grip are especially important in the fall, when there’s likely leaves on the ground, and spring, when there could be running water on the trails.

Water: “It’s extremely important to always make sure you have enough water,” Dellinger said. “To make your life a little easier, you can pick up a water filtration system so you can filter water from a stream, and don’t have to carry as much water.”

Light source: “Something I always recommend is just a headlamp or flashlight, especially in the fall — the darkness can sneak up on you,” he said.

Rain jacket (as needed): Don’t forget to check the weather forecast, Dellinger said. “It’s easy to forget to check — you kind of take it for granted some days that the weather is going to be nice.” If there’s a chance of rain, plan accordingly.

Dog-friendly hikes

Want to bring Fido? The folks at The Dodo, an animal-focused online site, share where they bring their dogs on hikes:

  • Hartshorne Woods Park, New Jersey
  • Liberty State Park, New Jersey
  • Mount Beacon, New York
  • Fishkill Ridge, New York
  • Hudson Valley Rail Trail, New York

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