Hiking the Catskill mountains without a car

Photo by Diana Misner Watters, one of the entries in the 2012 Central Catskills Great Outdoor Experience photo contest.

The many hiking trails of the Catskill Mountains and the Catskill Park Forest Preserve are accessible to all, even those who do no have a car. There are a number of bus transportation options that provide access to the major villages of the Catskills, followed by local taxi services and some businesses that cater the needs of hikers visiting the area.

These methods are not always the easiest for hikers, but for those without access to vehicles, the Catskill Mountains remain highly accessible for metro area residents with a bit of extra planning.

Southwestern Catskill Mountains

The major towns and villages of the southwestern Catskills along Route 17 are served by Short Line Bus Service from New York City and other points in the near by area. There is regularly scheduled service to Monticello with extended service to almost every major town including Livingston Manor (providing access to the Willowemoc Wild Forest and Mongup Pond State Campground) and Roscoe (providing access to Trout Pond and the Fingers Lake Trail). Several local taxi services are available out of Liberty and Monticello.

Central Catskill Mountains

The Central Catskill Mountains, including the Slide Mountain Wilderness, Big Indian Wilderness, the Dry Brook Ridge Wild Forest and the Shandaken Wild Forest are generally accessible from the villages and towns on Route 28. Route 28 travels from Kingston in the east to Delhi in the west. Bus Service via Pine Hill Trailways is available to most of the major villages along Route 28.

Northern Catskill Mountains

The northern Catskill Mountains, including the Hunter-West Kill Wilderness, the Indian Head Wilderness, the Blackhead-Windham Wilderness and North and South Lake State Campground are accessible from the villages and towns along Route 23 and Route 23a. Bus Service is provided Pine Hill Trailways. Taxi service is available in the Hunter, Tannersville and Haines Falls area with service to a number of trailheads from Smiley’s Transport (518-589-6533).

Planning your hike

Through the creative use of bus and taxi service, a number of different hikes are available in the Catskills that includes day hikes to several days worth of backpacking. Most local taxi companies serve trailheads and can drop you off in one location and pick you up at a scheduled time in another location. You should have a good map of the Catskills to plan ahead. The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference publishes the Catskill Trails Map Set (www.nynjtc.org), which shows all major trails and trailheads in the Catskills and can be used for planning your trip. Having a good map also makes it easier to discuss plans with a taxi company.

Jeff Senterman is currently the Catskill Region Program Coordinator for the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference partners with parks to create, protect, and promote a network of over 1,800 miles of public trails. We offer volunteer opportunities for people who love the outdoors, as well as publishing detailed hiking maps for the Catskill Region, along with a number of other regions. For more information on our maps and our Catskill Community Trails program please visit us on the web at www.nynjtc.org/catskills and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NYNJTC.CatskillRegion.