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Willowemoc Wild Forest Trails

Catskill Region

Directions to Trailhead
Trail Description

Willowemoc Trail Map (PDF)

Location: Neversink and Rockland in Sullivan County; Denning and Hardenburgh in Ulster County.

Length / Configuration: Over 30 miles of snowmobile and hiking/xc ski trails open to mountain bikes. Interconnecting loops and out-and-back rides.

Terrain / Surface: Generally quite hilly and rocky. From old woods roads to double and narrow singletrack.

Technical Difficulty: Intermediate and advanced. Requires stamina and basic technical skills.

Elevation Change: Most of the terrain does not vary more than 1,000 ft in elevation.

Tral Use: Mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing

Caution: Please use caution and yield the right-of-way to pedestrians or horses.

Black bear and deer hunting allowed in season. Spring is Black Fly season.

 

Bike Wheel

Note: This trail map is a graphical representation designed for general reference purposes only. Read Full Disclaimer.

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General Description

The 14,870 acre Willowemoc - Long Pond Wild Forest is tucked away into the southwest corner of New York's Catskill Park. The Willowemoc - Long Pond Wild Forest is mostly one large contiguous area with 8 detached sections nearby. These include The Craige Clair Area, Waneta Lake Area, Western Beaverkill Area, Willowemoc Area, Fall Brook and Flat Brook in in Ulster County. It is bordered on the northeast by the Big Indian - Beaverkill Range Wilderness Area and it practically surrounds the Mongaup Pond Campground - Forest Preserve Area.

With 50 peaks over 3,000 feet, the Catskill Forest Preserve exudes mountainous drama. However, in the Willowemoc - Long Pond Wild Forest, streams and ponds are more prominent than peaks. While steepsided ridges are common, elevations vary little more than 1,000 feet throughout the entire unit. This is excellent news for the beginner and intermediate level mountain biker who find the extreme, rocky peakiness of other Catskill Forest Preserve areas to be more of a challenge than they prefer.

Willowemoc - Long Pond Wild Forest's extensive network of snowmobile trails offer the best cross country experiences for those traveling by mountain bike, but hiking / foot trails are also open to mountain bicycles as well.

Facilities

Developed campgound and designated primitive campsites (marked by yellow DEC disks), day use area, comfort station with hot showers, flush lavoratories, trailer dump station, recycling center, day use area, picnic area and pavilion rentals, grills, fire rings, pay phones, sand beach, lifeguard in season, observation deck, hand boat launch, boat rentals. Wheelchair accessible faclities, campsites, areas and trails.

Environmental and recreational programs are offered from July to September.

Mongaup Pond Campground

This is one of the most popular campgrounds in the Catskills. A weekend bike & camp trip is needed in order to explore just some of the area trails. The well-maintained, developed Mongaup Pond Campground offers beautiful, large wooded tent and RV campsites set around 120 acre Mongaup Pond.

The pond is the largest body of water in the Catskill Park outside of the New York City reservoirs. The camp spots down by the lake shore are in high demand.

In the summer it is almost impossible to get a camping spot. The campgrounds fill to capacity most weekends and even during the week it is tough. You can take your chances and see if someone cancels out at the last minute. If you really want to guarantee a campsite, consider making reservations three months or more in advance.

Trail Access

From Route 17 (Quickway) at Exit 96, take County Roads 81 and 82 east to DeBruce, turn left onto Fish Hatchery Road and drive north three miles to the campground.

GPS: 41 57 26.45689N | 074 41 28.39129W

Phone: (845) 439-4233

If you can't get a camp spot, there are inns, and bed & breakfasts nearby in the towns of Liberty (19 miles), Livingston Manor (9 miles) or Claryville (4 miles). You can try other area Catskill Forest parks.

Rentals

Rowboat and canoe rentals, picnic pavillion rentals

Willowemoc Mountain Bike Trails Description

While there are no trails specifically designated for bicycles, Willowemoc Wild Forest offers an outstanding variety of trails suitable for mountain biking. The forest is laced with a network of over forty miles of recreational trails. These include 29 miles of well-marked snowmobile trails which orginated as old logging roads. These will provide excellent mountain biking experiences. The hiking trails are open to mountain bikes as well.

Trails wind through a dense Catskill Forest of hardwoods and tall conifers, run along ridges, cross streams and lead to several ponds. The terrain is varied. The snowmobile trails are generally hilly and rocky.

For a Catskill adventure, an epic mountain bike ride is possible across the entire length of the Willowemoc Wild Forest, from the Black Bear Road Trailhead in the east to Quick Lake in the west, using the well-marked snowmobile trail system. Described below are some suggested mountain bike rides that start from each of the four different major trailheads.

Although the Willowemoc Wild Forest self-guiding trail system is marked, a good topo map of all the trails in the area is a neccessity. A good map set is offered by the New York / New Jersey Trail Conference.

Black Bear Road

Mileage / Blaze: 3 miles (one-way)

Much of the land along this well-maintained hard-packed dirt road is owned by hunting camps and you'll see them along the way: Red Horse, Black Bear, and Raccoon to name a few. If you like long steady climbs as much as we do, this one will test your endurance as it climbs steadily, gaining about 500-feet in elevation over the course of 3 miles.

We enjoyed biking on this lightly-trafficked country road through stretches of hemlock and northern hardwood forest, and past clearings that allow glimpses of the mountains. To the east you will even be able to see Slide Mountain’s ridgeline and summit, highest peak in the Catskills at 4,190 feet.

At around 3 miles, turn around at the sign marking the entry into a Game Preserve owned by a hunting club. Please respect private landowners and turn around at any signs restricting access.

Trail Access

Two miles northwest of Claryville. GPS Coordinates: 41.974783°N, 74.578967°W

Long Pond Trail

Mileage / Blaze: 1 mile to Long Pond, with several ride eoptions of varying distance. Orange blaze

It helps to use our basic trail map (PDF link above) for an overview while reading our descriptions.

Follow the orange DEC snowmobile trail markers from the Long Pond Trailhead on Flugertown Road eastward for one mile to Long Pond. The trail begins near Willowemoc Creek.

It starts off with a gradual climb through a mixed hemlock and northern hardwood forest. The trail travels up about 350-feet over a ridge before dropping back down to the lovely 15 acre Long Pond. The ride then travels along the western edge of the pond and continues another two tenths of a mile north to a Y trail junction. From here you have a couple of ride options.

Option 1

Turn left. You are on the Long Pond-Beaver Kill Ridge Trail which leads to the Mongaup-Willowemoc Trail (west) and the Mongaup Pond Campground. You can turn left onto Flugertown Road after crossing the bridge over Willowemoc Creek and ride back to your car or return the way you came via the Long Pond Trail.

Option 2

Turn right. You are on the Long Pond-Beaver Kill Ridge Trail which leads to the Black Bear Road Trailhead (east).

Option 3

Turn left or right and make a loop ride using Basily Road (snowmobile route). Return to Long Pond Trail and back to the trailhead.

Around half-way through the Basily Road section of the loop ride, where it borders a tract of private land, busy beaver activity or wet conditions sometimes creates a pond that will block the way. If shallow, it can be crossed. There is a bridge that leads across but it is private property and off limits. You may have to turn around and make this an out-and-back ride.

Trail Access

On Flugertown Road, three miles northeast of Willowemoc. GPS: 41.938183°N, 74.647883°W

Long Pond - Beaver Kill Ridge Trail

Mileage / Blaze: 5.6 miles Long Pond to Beaver Kill Ridge. About 7.4 miles to complete ride below. Red blaze / yellow blaze without adding spur options.

The Long Pond - Beaverkill Ridge Trail runs east to west from the Black Bear Road Trailhead to the Mongaup - Hardenburgh Hiking Trail in the Big Indian Wilderness Area. Cross the road from the trailhead parking area and ride the trail marked by red blazes, west along Basily Road. This is also a snowmobile trail. This trail is rocky.

At around 2 miles, turn left at the junction onto a trail, leaving Basily Road. The trail heads south to Long Pond.

Long Pond Spur Option: If you want to visit the pond and admire the scenery, at 3.1 miles a short 0.1 mile spur trail (red blaze) to the left leads to Long Pond.

Back on the main trail, continue about 1 mile to a bridge which spans Willowemoc Creek. Turn right onto Flugertown Road and after 250 feet turn left onto the yellow blazed Mongaup - Willowemoc snowmobile trail. The next .4 miles are shared by both trails.

At 4.6 miles the Long Pond - Beaverkill Ridge Trail turns north and heads into the Big Indian Wilderness, a rugged, mountainous area cut by steep sided hollows. This section of the trail leads through northern hardwood and pine forest, is at times steep, muddy, overgrown and may require some bushwhacking.

Follow the yellow blazed Mongaup - Willowemoc Trail which continues for another 2 .8 miles to the Mongaup Pond Campground.

You can also combine the Long Pond - Beaverkill Ridge Trail with the Black Bear Road trip, or with the Mongaup - Willowemoc Trail to the campground for a longer mountain bike ride.

Mongaup - Willowemoc Trail

Mileage / Blaze: 3.65 miles. Yellow blaze

This rugged and rocky, relatively level, multi-use snowmobile trail travels 3.2 miles between the Mongaup Pond Campground and Flugertown Road. Because it is a snowmobile trail it is wide and relatively clear of vegetation.

You can ride the trail from either end. To reach the trail from the Mongaup Pond Campground, follow the connector trail behind campsite #38 in Area B, then turn left onto the main snowmobile trail. The trail bends east at ends at the intersection with Flugertown Road and Long Pond-Beaverkill Ridge Trail (red). 

There are several stream crossings over bridges along the way, the most notable being the bridge over Butternut Creek.

Trail Access

See Mongaup Pond Campground above

Karst - Wild Azalea Loop Traill

Mileage / Blaze: 7 mile loop.

This mountain bike ride utilizes the Wild Azalea, Karst and Mongaup - Willowemoc snowmobile trails. It's great mountain biking and a scenic ride.

Start on the Mongaup - Willowemoc Trail. At the Butternut Junction, turn south and follow the snowmobile markers. This is the Wild Azalea Trail. It takes you through both hardwood forest and clearings before reaching Hunter Road at 3 miles. Turn right onto Hunter Road and ride .75 mile. Look for the direction sign pointing to the Karst Trail on your right.

Starting out in an open field the trail soon enters the hardwood forest, travels along wetland habitat and ends at the cutoff for the Mongaup Pond Campground on your left (2 miles).

Trail Access

See Mongaup Pond Campground above

Loggers Loop Trail

Mileage / Blaze: 3.3 mile loop. Yellow blaze.

The Logger’s Trail begins at the junction with the Quick Lake Trail at the Graveyard Junction, about 0.4 miles west of the Frick Pond parking area. Turn right and head north. The terrain is gently rolling with some level stretches.

Reach the Times Square Junction at .55 miles. There may be several washed out areas due to water run-off action.  At 1.8 miles look for the two old iron wheels tha mark the Iron Wheel Junction and the intersection with the red blazed Quick Lake Trail. Turn left toward the southeast to return to the trailhead and back to the start.

Quick Lake Trail

Mileage / Blaze: 7.2 miles. Distance from trailhead parking lot to Frick Pond, 0.5 miles; Junkyard Junction, 3.1 miles; Quick Lake. Red blaze.

This mountain bike ride begins at the Frick Pond Trailhead and travels through forest past Frick Pond, then up and over a long and heavily wooded ridge before descending to Quick Lake.

This long distance mountain bike ride offers a remote mountain biking experience.  To begin, follow the Red Blazed DEC trail markers from the Frick Pond Trailhead (northwest corner of the parking lot). After passing the Yellow Blazed Loggers Loop Trail on the right, you'll soon arrive at Frick Pond, 0.5 miles into your bike ride.

Just past the Iron Wheel Junction at 1.7 miles is a Y intersection. A right turn takes you onto a wide path (red blaze) which may be eroded, washed out and grassy. A left turn at the Y, takes you onto a snowmobile trail. The arms of the Y meet up again at Coyote Junction at 4.25 miles. These two trails share sections and separate several times on the way to Quick Lake, the rides end at 7.2 miles.

Trail Access

The easiest access is from the Frick Pond Trailhead parking area. Follow directions to Mongaup Pond Campground (see above). From Fish Hatchery Road, turn left onto Beech Mountain Road (one mile south of campground), then drive one-quarter mile

GPS Coordinates: 41.9573491°N, 74.6912198

 

Trail Highlights & Nearby Points of Interest

Wildlife Watch & Photography

Over 50 species of mammals including beaver, fisher and coyotes, a plethora of birds, amphibians and reptiles reside in the Willowemoc Long Pond Wild Forest. Northern hardwood forests favors black bear, snowshoe hare, wild turkey, gray squirrel, raccoon, porcupine, white-tailed deer, cottontail rabbit and ruffed grouse.

The spotted turtle, wood turtle, eastern hognose snake, Jefferson salamander, blue-spotted salamander and spotted salamander are of Special Concern.

Birdwatching

Breeding species of birds include the pileated woodpecker, yellow-bellied sapsucker, red-breasted. nuthatch, eastern phoebe, ovenbird, sparrows and warblers.

The Red-shouldered hawk (threatened), eastern bluebird, common nighthawk, common raven, cooper's hawk, barn ow1, grasshopper sparrow and vesper sparrow, the small footed bat are all of Special Concern and may reside within or adjacent to the Willowemoc Wild Forest.

Bike & Fish

Willowemoc Creek, Fir Brook and Waneta Lake are the most significant and stocked fishery resources within the Willowemoc - Long Pond Wild Forest.

Waneta Lake

Largemouth bass, chain pickerel, pumpkinseed, yellow perch, brown bullhead and golden shiner.

Willowemoc Creek, Fir Brook

Brown trout, brook trout, sculpin, blacknose dace, creek chub, American eel, smallmouth bass, longnose dace, golden shiner, pumpkinseed0 yellow perch, brown bullhead, white sucker, madtom, common shiner and cutiips minnow.

The Beaverkill located nearby, is also a popular trout stream.

Catskill Fish Hatchery

The Catskill Fish Hatchery is one of 12 New York State managed fish hatcheries. Development of the hatchery was sparked by the arrival of what was known as the O. and W. Railroad (see Historical Notes below). The hatchery is located 3 miles from the Mongaup Pond near Beaver Kill and Willowemoc Creek, two of New York State's most fabled trout streams.

The hatchery specializes in rearing brown trout and it maintains a brood stock capable of producing two million eggs. About 115,000 pounds of brown trout are produced annually.

It's open to the public. We enjoyed our visit and found it a fascinating and fun experience. The kids will love it.

Visiting hours are usually 8:30 am - 4 pm on weekdays and 8:30 - noon on weekends. Call ahead.

Trail Access

31 Alder Rd, Livingston Manor, NY 12758

GPS Coordinates: Lat: 42.02645 | Long: -74.707204

Phone: 845-439-4328.


Historical Notes

The Sun Trail

The name Willowemoc is derived from the name of a local Lenni-Lenape Indian Tribe. They were members of the Algonquin Nation and the first to utilize the region for its plentiful fish and game. They also developed the first transportation route into and through the area with the Sun Trail, which followed the route of the sun (east - west) from the Hudson (Kingston) to the Susquehanna (Binghamton).

The Sell-Out of the Catskills

Local lore has it that in 1706, the Indian sachem Naisinos sold a iarge tract of land which included the Catskill Mountains to Johannes Hardenbergh for 60 pounds. Hardenbergh then persuaded Queen Anne of England, in 1708, to grant him and his associates title to the region. This grant became known as the Hardenbergh Patent and encompassed nearly 2,000,000 acres.

The hamlet of DeBruce takes its name from James Desbrosses who owned most of the land in Great Lot 5, which included most of the Willowemoc - Long Pond Wild Forest; the town of Livingston, is named after John R. Livingston, who owned much of Great Lot 4. After the Revolutionary War, these men and others encouraged tenant settlement on the land. Agricultural production was an early industry in the area.

The Rape of Willowemoc - Long Pond Wild Forest & What Goes Around, Comes Around

While industry is a good thing; it drives economic growth and feeds families; unprotected and poor forest and natural resources management is like cutting off your nose (or trees to spite the land) to spite your face.

Each era in the Catksill's industrial and recreational history can be traced to the development of a transporation route into the region. As Austin Francis noted in his book "Catskill Rivers," the railroads created an "accessible remoteness".

The Sun Trail, the Newburgh / Cochecton Turnpike, the Hunter Road and the Pole Road led the way. In 1873, the New York and Oswego Midland Railroad, later known as the New York, Ontario and Western Railroad opened the area to visiting fisherman, hunters and those seeking other outdoor pursuits. This in turn encouraged the area's development and recreation industry.

The O. and W. Railroad was doing a booming business transporting Willowemoc - Long Pond Area trout fry around the country. This sparked a bill to establish a fish hatchery in Sullivan County which in turn led to the creation of the DeBruce Hatchery on Mongaup Creek and what has become one of the classic trout fishing regions in the world.

However, there is a dark side to the Willowemoc-Long Pond Forest's early industrial heritage. Improved transportion into the area and the readily available, rich arboreal resource of the Catksills sparked a period of "land rape". The logging industry took off. Small sawills sprung up. Hemlock trees were the first to go. The shade-tolerant eastern hemlock grows very slowly, taking as much as 250 to 300 years to mature. Hemlock bark provided a good source of tannin. The bark was peeled off the trees for use in the booming leather tanning industry.

By 1864 there were 40 leather tanneries in Sullivan County, including one at Claryville and one at what is now the Beaverkill Campground. By the late 1880's all but the most inaccessible hemlock stands had been cut and stripped of bark. lt is estimated that 95% of the barkless, fallen trees were left to rot in the woods. I wonder where the American robin, blue jay and wood thush went who used the cover of Eastern hemlock branches for shelter and nesting.

Considering the unprotected forest and reckless or rather non-existant forest management, it is not surprising that the whole shebang came to an end. However, nature takes advantage of openings and faster growing, light-tolerant hardwood tree species invaded areas where the hemlock once dominated.

The Industrial Revolution and World War I created a need for wood chemicals which were used primarily in the manufacture of cloth. Acid factories sprung up in the western Catskills to manufacture wood alcohol, acetate of lime and charcoal from hardwoods. The King Brothers established the first acid factory in Sullivan County in 1878 in the area of what is now known as the town of Acidalia. By the end of World War II, only a few Acid factories were left.

Dead fish floating down the Willowemoc was one of the unwanted side effects of this industry. This catalyst led to the New York State purchase of a Beaverkill tannery farm in October, 1926, to be preserved as a state park and campsite area (Beaverkill Campground).

Next came the "Sawmill Era". Saw mills sprung up everywhere; at Lew Beach, Beaverkill, Craigie Claire, Grooville, Willowemoc and at the Outlet of Lake Juanita (Waneta). The raw materials likely came from lands now comprising Willowemoc - Long Pond Wild Forest. The Sherwood Saw Mill at Livingston Manor became one of the major mills in the region. They produced Indian Clubs, dumbbells and baseball bats. Until 1900, all Spaulding baseball bats were made at the Sherwood plant.

The 20th Century and the automobile provoked a rapid expansion of the summer resort business. Today it is the prime industry in the county.

New York State began acquiring lands making up the Willowemoc - Long Pond Wild Forest as early as 1885. Ironically, the majority of land acquisitions were purchased from Arthur Leighton's daughter. Leighton owned and operated several acid factories in the region.

What goes around, comes around.

Directions

To Mongaup Pond Campground: From Route 17 at Exit 96, take County Roads 81 and 82 east to DeBruce, turn left onto Fish Hatchery Road and drive north 3 miles to the campground. (Open May -December. Day use fee required to enter campground)

Black Bear Road Trailhead: In the town of Deming, Ulster County, 2 miles northwest of Claryville. L

Long Pond Trailhead: In the town of Neversink, Sullivan County, on Flugertown Road, 3 miles northeast of Willowemoc.

Frick Pond Trailhead: In the town of Rockland, Sullivan County. Follow directions to Mongaup Pond Campground. From Fish Hatchery Road, turn left onto Beech Mountain Road then drive 1/4 mile.

More Information

NYSDEC Region 3
21 South Putt Corners Road
New Paltz, NY 12561

Phone: (845) 256-3000

 

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