Recreation and the outdoors are not just for able-bodied people. Adults and children with physical challenges benefit from exercise and the balance that comes from nature and fitness. Here are some opportunities that allow everyone equal access to the Catskills.
TRAILS FOR ALL
With their gentle grades, rail trails — former railroad beds turned into trails — are accessible to everyone. Try the 26-mile CATSKILL SCENIC TRAIL (Bloomville to Roxbury, catskillscenictrail.org) or the 22-mile WALLKILL VALLEY RAIL TRAIL (Wallkill to Kingston, wvrta.org), which boasts the Rosendale Trestle, a soaring bridge that crosses the Rondout Creek. A .75-mile paved loop and a paved trail to the Esopus Creek surrounds the CATSKILL INTERPRETIVE CENTER (Mount Tremper, catskilliinterpretivecenter.org) which just opened last month.
Above: The paved trail around the Catskill Interpretive Center. Photo by Julia Reischel.
FISHING AND SWIMMING
ALDER LAKE in Hardenburgh has accessible fishing and a picnic area. The BELLEAYRE BEACH, a man-made beach in Pine Hill, features swimming, a picnic area and a rustic path around the lake. The LOWER BIRCH CREEK ROAD PICNIC AREA in Pine Hill has fishing access, a picnic area and short path around a pond.
LITTLE POND CAMPGROUND in Andes has a paved mile-long trail around a 13-acre pond, swimming, fishing, camping, a pavilion and a beach. NORTH-SOUTH LAKE CAMPGROUND in Haines Falls is the biggest and most popular state campground in the Catskill Park, with 219 trailer and tent sites, two lakes and two beaches. Accessible camping, picnicking, a pavilion and restrooms are available. MONGAUP POND CAMPGROUND in Livingston Manor has 163 campsites, some of them wheelchair accessible, as well as fishing, restrooms and a pavilion. PEEKAMOOSE VALLEY CAMPING AREA in Denning has accessible primitive camping, picnicking and a short trail to the river. Motorized Access Program for People with Disabilities permit holders may ride ATVs to an accessible lean-to campsite in ROCHESTER HOLLOW.
For more accessible outdoor destinations in the Catskills, check out the New York Department of Environmental Conservation's Accessible Recreation Destinations page.
This article originally appeared in the print version of the 2015 Catskills Outdoor Guide, our annual publication about the Catskills 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.