As one of the biggest and most popular campgrounds in the Catskills of New York, North South Lake State Park hosts over two-hundred campsites clustered around the Northern-most of it’s namesake lakes. This campground is the perfect launching point for many nearby hikes and viewpoints.
A popular and relatively easy hike to the Catskill Mountain House Site was a promising start to our trip. We decided to hike from the campgrounds around the lakes on the Yellow Trail rather than drive to the parking lot and swimming beach at the trailhead, and the foliage made it worth the journey. It was a little confusing at times, trying to find the trail under layers of fall leaves, but as long as you keep one eye on the lake you can’t get lost.
Once home to a famous hotel that regularly hosted the American upper-class (including three presidents!), the Catskill Mountain House Site stands at the edge of a steep cliff, dropping into sweeping panoramic views of the Hudson Valley. Very little of the original structure still stands, but the views alone are worth the journey- on a clear day you can see five different states.
We also had time to visit the incredibly muddy Mary’s Glen trail and made it to Ashley Falls before deciding to turn back for the sake of saving our hiking gear from the mud- it’s difficult to wash things while camping! The falls were pretty, though the river below was completely choked up with fiery fallen leaves.
The best waterfall around however, is the 260 foot double tiered Kaaterskill Falls. While it’s located outside the campgrounds its only a few minute’s drive away and definitely worth the stop. It’s typically very crowded- hosting nearly 200,000 visitors a year- so it’s a good idea to visit early before the parking lot fills up. There is an easy viewpoint of the falls on the upper platform right at the start of the trail, and the entire trail to the bottom of the falls is a short 1.4 miles roundtrip which only adds to its popularity. The rocks get very slippery in the spray from the falls so it’s important to step carefully!
When we visited in October, we were treated to some excellent foliage- though many leaves already littered the ground in the area. While there are a fair amount of evergreens in the area to liven up a winter visit, the colorful leaves were definitely a bonus to our visit.