DEC PROMOTES TRAIL SAFETY DURING PEAK FALL HIKING SEASON
Safety Demonstration Highlights New York’s $800,000 Investment in Safety and Accessibility Improvements at Kaaterskill Falls
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today reminded hikers to follow important safety measures while visiting New York’s trails during the prime fall hiking season. Key safety messages and demonstrations were part of an event held today at the Kaaterskill Wild Forest in the Catskill town of Hunter, Greene County. The event showcased the many recent improvements that have enhanced accessibility and overall safety at Kaaterskill Falls.
Recent improvements, supported by an $800,000 investment primarily from the Governor’s NY Works program, are 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.
Newly announced improvements made this year include a new, 200-foot cable hand rail on the trail leading to the middle pool of the falls to improve hiker safety. Also new this year are improvements to the Kaaterskill Falls trail down to the middle pool, completed by the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the rehabilitated a one-half-mile section of trail leading to the Kaaterskill trail system. DEC crews continue to improve trails in the area that receive substantial public use.
At today’s event, DEC Forest Rangers shared trail safety tips, reminding the public to stay on designated trails, obey all signs, wear proper footwear, and not allow young children to wander when recreating. Serious injury or death may occur if these common-sense safety precautions are not followed. The popularity of Kaaterskill Falls coupled with the steep cliffs and slippery rocks require caution and preparedness. Trail conditions can change suddenly and users should plan accordingly, including bringing flashlight, first aid equipment, extra food, and clothing.
Among the 2016 improvements at Kaaterskill Wild Forest was the installation of a 115-foot hiking bridge last fall that spans Spruce Creek and connects the hamlet of Haines Falls to the Escarpment Trail and North/South Lake Campground. The bridge is part of a new 1.8-mile trail connection between Haines Falls and the existing trail system in the Kaaterskill Wild Forest and North/South Lake Campground, which DEC completed with the assistance of the Kaaterskill Rail Trail Committee.
DEC contractors also completed a new foot trail leading from the end of the marked Kaaterskill Falls trail at the base of the falls upslope to the middle pool of the falls, which included installation of a new stone staircase. The 200-step stone staircase was designed to blend in with the natural stone of the area at a location that limits its visibility from below. The staircase contractor, a professional trail crew from the Adirondack Mountain Club, built the staircase by hand using an elaborate cable system and ramps to move each of the 700-pound stone steps from a staging area on the opposite side of the falls. The trail was also extended from the middle pool to the Escarpment trail creating a key linkage between the top and the bottom of the falls, allowing hikers to avoid a potentially dangerous bushwhack between the two locations.
The crown jewel of the Catskill Park is the highest cascading waterfall in New York State—Kaaterskill Falls. Dropping in two tiers over 260 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.
The improved trails, bridge, viewing platform and stone staircase address the public's desire for access to a better view of Kaaterskill Falls and the middle pool area, while enhancing public safety.