The Western Catskills are glorious in springtime, with views that just keep coming and charming villages to explore. Hikers will find something different and wild up here, and they’ll understand why Rip Van Winkle wandered here, drank with a bowling team of little people, and curled up for a nap. Here are a few hike suggestions to give you a taste.
ANDES RAIL TRAIL
Andes Rail Trail offers a quick, easy, two-mile, out-and-back ramble through fields and woodlands with panoramic views. Got more time, or want more of a challenge? Continue onto the Bullet Hole Spur, a moderately tough, two-mile loop that climbs the ridge through mature hardwoods and open forests with some gorgeous views of the Tremperskill Valley.
Directions: Take Route 28 west to Route 2 (Depot Street) in Andes. You’ll find the trailhead at a lovely pergola. catskillmountainclub.org/andes-rail-trail-hiking-guide
BEAR SPRING MOUNTAIN PARK & WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA
Bear Spring Mountain Park and Wildlife Management Area in Walton has enough variety to fuel at least a full summer’s worth of weekends. With 7,000 acres sprawling across the towns of Hancock, Walton, and Colchester, the preserve offers 24 miles of multi-use trails: There are plenty of quick, easy walks that lead to lovely views, along with tougher stuff for those seeking more of a challenge. Some sections are ADA-compliant; you can camp here (or use the campground’s restroom and playground) or take a swim in Launt Pond.
Directions: From the Quickway (Route 17) take exit 90, or take Route 28 west. Follow Route 30 (north from 17, south from 28) to Route 206. You’ll find parking along Trout Brook Road and West Trout Brook Road. greatwesterncatskills.com/bear-spring-mountain-park-wildlife-management-area/
Palmer Hill in Andes will satiate your desire for glorious views of the High Peaks along a 3.7-mile length. Its loops lead you through open meadows, past old stone walls and historic foundations, among apple trees that still produce. If time’s really limited, just a 1.2-mile round trip along the first section will reward you with the historic ruins of a farmstead and barn. Crafted by the Catskill Mountain Club, this is one of the best trails around for open sky and serenity matched with stunning panoramas.
Directions: Take Rt. 28 west nine miles from Margaretville; trailhead parking is available at the scenic overlook site on Finkle Road. catskillmountainclub.org/palmer-hill-trail
There’s enough variety to fuel at least a full spring and summer’s worth of weekends.
BRAMLEY MOUNTAIN TRAIL
Bramley Mountain Trail was designed by hikers for hikers, courtesy of the Catskill Mountain Club. Take an easy, 0.9-mile hike along a woodsy road to the gorgeous bluestone quarry; then it’s a 1.2-mile gradual ascent along a footpath past stone walls, cliffs, and caves to the summit, with exquisite views of the High Peaks of the Cats to the south and the Pepacton Range to the west. Take the Summit Trail back down for the full, four-mile loop.
Directions: Take Route 28 to Delhi; then turn right on Glen Burnie Road to reach the trailhead, on your right after 3.3 miles. bramleymountainfiretower.org
DRY BROOK RIDGE TRAIL
The Dry Brook Ridge Trail offers a 13-mile, point-to-point challenge that takes around seven hours and crosses Pakatakan Mountain and Dry Brook Ridge. The trail varies—you may find yourself roughing it through the underbrush in spots, and there’s a 3,075-feet elevation gain involved—but this one takes you deep into genuine backcountry on a journey from Margaretville to Balsam Lake.
Directions: From Routes 28 and 30 in Margaretville, take Southside Road to Huckleberry Brook Road (about two miles.) You’ll find parking areas on Huckleberry Brook Road and another on Hill Road. dec.ny.gov/lands/96749.html