Know the New Hiking How-tos
DEC Adopts New Regulations to Improve Safety and Visitor Experience at Kaaterskill Falls and Surrounding Areas
Prohibitions Now Enforced at Four Catskill Destinations
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the adoption of new regulations designed to improve public safety and enhance the user experience at Kaaterskill Falls and three nearby areas that have experienced a substantial increase in public use in recent years.
Commissioner Seggos said, "Beloved by thousands of New Yorkers, Kaaterskill Falls is an increasingly popular destination, unique in its natural beauty coupled with steep cliffs and slippery rocks. DEC encourages visitors to the falls to use caution and the regulations adopted today complement the State's $1.25 million investments to improve safety and accessibility at the falls without sacrificing its natural qualities. We want people to visit New York's natural areas and state lands, but we want them to visit responsibly and be mindful of their surroundings."
The new regulations complement previously announced safety and accessibility improvements at Kaaterskill Falls. The newly adopted regulations impact all or parts of four areas; the Kaaterskill Falls Riparian Area (in the town of Hunter, Greene County), the Kaaterskill Clove Riparian Corridor (in the towns of Hunter and Catskill, Greene County), the Platte Clove Riparian Corridor (in the town of Hunter, Greene County, and the town of Saugerties, Ulster County), and the Colgate Lake Wild Forest Area (in the town of Jewett, Greene County).
At all four areas, the new regulations:
- ban all camp fires and portable stoves (except when camping at designated campsites or otherwise camping in accordance with DEC regulations);
- prohibit glass containers except for the storage of medicines;
- ban the use of audio devices without the use of headphones/ear buds (except at designated camp sites or otherwise camping in accordance with DEC regulations, and not audible outside the immediate area of the campsite);
- ban the possession of alcohol (except when transporting to, or camped at, designated camp sites or where otherwise camping in compliance with DEC regulations);
- prohibit the public from entering restricted areas, as designated by signage.
At Kaaterskill Clove, Kaaterskill Falls and Colgate Lake Wild Forest, they:
- prohibit the possession of portable generators, except at designated campsites or otherwise camping in accordance with DEC regulations (previous regulations already prohibit the possession of generators at Platte Clove).
At Kaaterskill Falls, they:
- prohibit the public from going within six feet of cliff edges, except on marked trails, and prohibit the public from entering the water within 150 feet upstream of the falls.
At Kaaterskill Clove and Platte Clove:
- the public are not allowed in one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise, except for those camping in accordance with DEC regulations or licensed hunters, anglers and trappers.
In addition, at Kaaterskill Falls, the newly adopted regulations prohibit the public from going within six feet of cliff edges, except on marked trails, and prohibit the public from entering the water within 150 feet upstream of the falls.
The regulations also prohibit the possession of portable generators within the Kaaterskill Clove Riparian Corridor, the Kaaterskill Falls Riparian Area, and the Colgate Lake Wild Forest Area, except at designated campsites or where otherwise camped in compliance with DEC regulations.
Under the new regulations, the public are not allowed in the Kaaterskill Clove or Platte Clove Riparian Corridors between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise except for those camping in accordance with DEC regulations, hikers or licensed hunters, anglers, and trappers.
DEC has invested more than $1.25 million primarily from the Governor's NY Works program as part of a comprehensive effort to make the Kaaterskill Wild Forest area a safer and more enjoyable destination to visit. The improvements were completed under the State's Adventure NY Initiative to connect more New Yorkers with nature.
Public accessibility and safety improvements implemented at Kaaterskill Falls over the past few years include:
- construction of an observation platform overlooking the top of the falls and construction of a wide, smooth surface trail with level resting areas leading to the platform. The viewing platform directs people to a safe viewing area away from the top of the falls where people have fallen;
- installation of a 200-foot cable hand rail on the trail leading to the middle pool of the falls to improve hiker safety;
- improvements to the Kaaterskill Falls trail down to the middle pool, and the rehabilitation of a one-half-mile section of trail leading to the Kaaterskill trail system;
- installation of a 115-foot hiking bridge spanning Spruce Creek and connecting the hamlet of Haines Falls to the Escarpment Trail and North/South Lake Campground;
- construction of a foot trail leading from the end of the Kaaterskill Falls trail at the base of the falls upslope to the middle pool of the falls and continuing to the top of the falls, allowing hikers to avoid a dangerous bushwhack between the locations. This trail extension included construction of a 200-step stone staircase;
- expansion of two Kaaterskill Falls parking areas;
- rehabilitation of a horse boarding platform and construction of a hitching post at the Scutt Road parking lot;
- replacement of a hiking trail bridge to accommodate horse traffic;
- installation of 500 feet of split rail fencing at both the upper and lower falls, which serves as both a physical and visual barrier to alert the public to the potential dangers of proceeding further;
- installation of additional signage in more conspicuous locations to warn the public about the potential dangers in the area.
Kaaterskill Falls is the highest cascading waterfall in New York State and the crown jewel of the Catskill Park. Dropping in two tiers over 230 feet, Kaaterskill Falls has been one of the region's most popular destinations for centuries, inspiring artists, poets and those just seeking an escape to a majestic and awe-inspiring landscape.
To view the full text of new regulations, visit DEC's website.