Our Favorite Fall Hikes in the Catskills

Upstate New York offers some of the best fall foliage in the world (seriously), and this autumn looks to be best in almost 5 years.

Warm days, cool nights, and just the right amount of rain this year means the maple leaves are turning a deep scarlet, the yellows and oranges will be electric, and the wild apples are ripe (and plentiful).

In our beloved Catskills Mountains, geography and meteorology quirks result in different microclimates throughout the Park, which means "peak foliage" (the best time to see foliage) hits each region of the park at a different time. We carefully plan our calendar so that our hikes follow the peak foliage as it moves to different parts of the Catskills, ensuring that we can experience the best of autumn on all of our favorite Catskill and Shawanagunk hikes. 

Blackhead Range

Located in the far northern extremes of the Catskills, this is one of the first places that peak foliage hits, which is why we go here early in the season. Our late September hike will find brilliant red maples in the valley and abundant yellow in the landscape at higher elevation. Not to mention some extended time in the spruce-fir ecosystem, looking down on all the colors in the valley.

Blackhead Range Traverse (9/23) →

Blackhead Mountain (9/24) →

Blackhead Range Overnight (9/23-24)→

Balsam Lake Mountain

If you want to see all the incredible foliage of the Catskills, but don't feel like you're ready to take on a big summit, this is a perfect first Catskill hike. Great for families and new hikers, we'll have a gentle ascent to the summit which has a fire tower and excellent views of the Catskills for miles. 

Balsam Lake Mountain (10/1) →

Friend of the Devil

There's a reason we hike the Devil's Path over Columbus Day weekend every year—every peak offers stunning views, the air is crisp, and the nights are cool and cozy around the campfire. We take the trail as it's best suited, over three days, so there's not need to rush. You can be sure we'll enjoy every viewpoint over the foliage in different parts of the Catskills along the way. 

Plateau Mountain (10/7) →

Hunter Mountain and Southwest Hunter (10/8) →

Friend of the Devil (10/7-9) →

Eastern Devils Path: Twin, Sugarloaf, and Indian Head

As the foliage heads east, we follow. The steep elevation changes in the eastern Devil's Path means we'll see a diverse range of foliage through different ecosystems along the trail. Great for a day escape to the Catskills. 

Twin and Sugarloaf Mountains (10/14) →

Indian Head Mountain (10/15) →

Burroughs Range

One step further into the season, our adventures shift to the Central/Southern Catskills, and many steps back into the past. A truly epic day hike or overnight, the Burroughs Range is almost all Wilderness with a capital W. That means forests that are untouched by man. Imagine the peak foliage. Now imagine peak foliage on birch trees that are hundreds of years old... 

Mount Wittenberg (10/21) →

Slide Mountain (10/22) →

In the Footsteps of Legends: Burroughs Range Backpack (10/21-22) →

Giant Ledge & Panther

If there's a mountain in the Catskills better known for foliage than Panther, we've never heard of it (and we've heard of all of them). This is the heart of the southern zone foliage season and the views all along Giant Ledge and up to Panther are breath-taking. We'll experience views from a variety of elevations, each with a different perspective. 

Giant Ledge & Panther Mountain (10/29) →

Minnewaska in November 

In November, the foliage heads south to Minnewaska. Here we get a truly unique color scheme as the blackberry and huckleberry bushes turn a deep crimson. Set against the stark white Shawanagunk conglomerate, and deep green pitch pine, you'll find foliage takes on a completely different meaning once it leaves the Catskills. You can be sure we'll stop at a local Farmer's market on the way home to pick up fresh apples and other local goods. 

Minnewaska Hikes in November →

Hiking not your thing? Don't miss our Fall Foliage Paddles and see autumn from a whole new perspective.