Outdoor recreation opportunities abound in the Catskills, running the gamut from strolling on rail trails to expert-only wilderness bushwhacks. Whatever your adventure level — or your dog’s — there’s plenty to do with a pup in tow here in the Catskills.
What to do
HIKE. Most dogs love to hike, and the many trails that wend through Catskills forests are wonderful places for you to enjoy nature: balsam firs, bald eagles, tumbling cascades and vistas that have inspired generations. Be sure to match your outing to your buddy’s current level of fitness.
Catskill Park regulations do not require dogs to be leashed at all times. Voice control is acceptable in many areas; check the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s website (dec.ny.gov) for details. Some great trails to try are Overlook Mountain (watch out for timber rattlesnakes), Slide Mountain, Giant Ledge and Rochester Hollow.
RAIL TRAIL. For older or arthritic dogs, try a rail trail. The gentle grade of a converted railbed is easy to stroll, snowshoe, cross-country ski, bike or run, and there are many options around the Catskills to enjoy. Hurley and Andes boast excellent rail trails, and the Catskill Scenic Trail from Bloomville to Roxbury is another fabulous place to bring four-legged friends (in the winter, you’ll share this trail with snowmobilers).
SWIM. Wonderful — and dog-friendly — swimming holes can be found all over the Catskills. Favorites include Blue Hole near Peekamoose, or Fawn’s Leap off Route 23A. Another great spot is the Deer Shanty Brook, which can be reached by hiking in from the Denning trailhead. The Slide Mountain parking area and the Roaring Kill parking area both offer babbling brooks a stone’s throw from the parking lot.
DOG PARK. There is a wonderful dog park with an agility course on Route 42 in Shandaken. Safe, clean and rarely crowded, this is a great spot to take a break if you’re driving with your dog from here to there.
Your dog needs a rock-solid “come when called” and an ironclad “leave it.” Not reliable with these commands? Then keep her leashed. Leashes are better than losing your baby to any number of preventable hazards.
Water can be in short supply, especially up on ridges in summer. Even in winter, your dog needs adequate water, and eat- ing lots of snow may pose a risk of bloat. Carry enough water for both of you.
Watch those paws: Extreme cold, ice and hard crusted snow can injure paws. If you see limping or bleeding, it’s time to get the pup indoors.
Have fun, and remember a tired dog is a good dog.
Heather Rolland, board member of the Catskill Mountain Club and second VP of the Catskill 3500 Club, recently completed a round of the Catskills’ 35 tallest peaks in a ball gown. She now hikes with her pack of pointy-eared dogs: three Belgian Malinois, a Belgian Groenendael and a Dutch shepherd puppy.
This article originally appeared in the print version of the 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide, our annual publication covering recreation in the Catskills great outdoors. The Catskills Outdoor Guide is distributed across the Catskills region and at select locations in the NYC metropolitan area. Find a copy near you here.