North-South Lake: Catskill Mountain House
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids New York City (AMC Books)
Address:County Road 18, Haines Falls, NY
Hours:Dawn to dusk daily
Fee: $8 per vehicle (free with an Empire Passport)
Bathrooms: Parking lot fronting North-South Lake
Water/Snacks: Vending machines near the parking lot

USGS Kaaterskill Clove

Visit this popular campground for hiking, biking, paddling, and other games, as well as camping in tents.

North-South Lake: Catskill Mountain House
Photo by: Cheryl and William de Jong-Lambert

North-South Lake was once among the most fashionable mountain destinations in America, and today it remains the most popular public campground in the Catskill Forest Preserve. With miles of trails covering terrain as varied as brookside walks and 2,250-foot mountain passes, North-South Lake has hikes for everyone. The campground, with more than 200 tent and trailer sites, two picnic areas, two swimming beaches, and restrooms with showers, also has a playground and facilities for volleyball, horseshoes, and other recreational activities.

For day-use and overnight visitors alike, the easy hike to the remains of the Catskill Mountain House, an inn that once lodged presidents and other luminaries, is a must-do from the beach. The hike begins at the far end of the parking lot, where pavement turns into gravel. Walk uphill to catch the blueblazed trail along a moderately steep path that, while rocky, is easily navigable for young hikers and parents pushing a sturdy stroller. After half a mile you find the stone remains of the entrance gate to what once was a luxury hotel. As you continue along, the horizon over the Hudson Valley opens wide before you. On this high plateau, the stone outlines of this once-grand hotel present a surreal vista. To your right, an informational sign grippingly describes the rise and fall of the hotel.

Return the way you came, and if you want to extend your excursion, take the path to the left of the beach to begin a longer walk around North Lake. Remember: Motorized boats are not permitted on the lake. A paved boat ramp is located near the beach, and you can rent rowboats, kayaks, canoes, and paddleboats at the campground.

Plan B:

A hike up Kaaterskill Falls (Trip 89) will add to your appreciation of the area’s natural beauty.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Visit Haines Falls along NY 23A for restaurants, a general store, and seasonal produce markets.



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