At the Roaring Brook trail head

5 family and kid friendly hikes in the Catskills

What makes a hike great for young families? In our experience, it’s the small things. No really, small things. Bugs, cool plants, frogs, caves, water, and some views. Easier the better.

Small children don’t care about peak bagging. They’re into simple fun.

One of the best things you can do for your young hiker is let them hike. Pick hikes that your child can walk on their own, at least part of the way. Carry them when you must. However, the more they walk the more they will explore. With this exploration, they will learn how to hike and have fun.

That’s your goal with your young family members. Fun.

We have handpicked five hikes with varying degrees of difficulty and all about 1.5 to 2 miles round trip with lots of stuff to engage your kid. Two of them could make nice winter snowshoe trips. One was included as a first backcountry camping destination to a lean-to.

Tip: Bring stuff in the car to entertain younger hikers as some of these trailheads are a bit remote AND have a post-hike tradition, ours is ice cream.

Roaring Brook and Pecoy Notch Trail to Dibbles Quarry

At Dibbles QuarryScott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking
At Dibbles Quarry

The hike to Dibbles Quarry is fun but is the most difficult of the 5 hikes as it climbs 400 feet.

You may have to carry the little ones on some of the short climbs, but there is much to see along the way. The big payoff is the quarry and the view.

Along the way, you’ll cross a couple of streams, find a small “cave” on your right (you’ll really need to look for it). Before you reach the quarry there are some impressive cliffs to view on Sugar Loaf Mountain’s Ridge. Just above the quarry is a designated campsite. It would be a great first “backcountry” camping experience for a young hiker.

Young Chris camping at Dibbles Quarry in the CatskillsScott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking
Young Chris camping at Dibbles Quarry in the Catskills

Tip: If you camp here find the small ledge just down hill from the campsite above the quarry to have breakfast as the sun rises over the Hudson Valley. It’s sure to inspire any hiker at any age!

2.0 miles round trip (involves climbing)
Best: Spring, Summer, Fall

Roaring Kill Trailhead, Green County NY (Google Maps)

Indian Head Wilderness Recreation Map (DEC)

Peck Road to the Elm Ridge Lean-to

From the designated sites behind the Elm Ridge Lean-toScott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking
From the designated sites behind the Elm Ridge Lean-to

The Elm Ridge Lean-to is a favorite destination for camping and makes a great “basecamp” for young hikers climbing Windham High Peak. You can camp in the lean-to or in your tent at the designated area behind it. Either way a nice setting as a place to camp.

This can be a great place for a first overnight camping experience.

From Peck Road, this is an easy hike that will please most families. Now with two routes to choose from, you can go very easy or get a more wilderness feel on a new Cranberry Bog Trail. The Elm Ridge Trail is most direct and easier. At about one mile from the trailhead, you can break at the lean-to for lunch or a snack. Keep an eye out for mountain bikers riding the trails on the upper section of Elm Ridge.

2.0 miles round trip
Best: Spring, Summer, Fall
Okay: Winter

Peck Road Trailhead, Green County (Google Maps)

Elm Ridge Recreation Map (DEC site)

Diamond Notch Falls

Diamond Notch Falls in the CatskillsScott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking
Diamond Notch Falls

This is a favorite destination for many hikers and one of the most pretty falls in these mountains.

At about 1-mile level walk from the trailhead (see videos), it attracts people for all sorts of reasons. We have seen kids swimming, backpackers stopping on their way through to other places, painters and photographers and young families. But one thing they all have in common is – they are having fun. Just a word of caution, the area around the falls can be very slippery and in winter the creek ices over but you can fall through.

1.5-mile round trip
Best: Spring, Summer, Fall
Okay: Winter

Diamond Notch Trailhead, Spruceton RD, Green County (Google Maps)

Hunter – West Kill Wilderness Recreation Map (DEC site)

Mine Kill Falls

Above Mine Kill FallsScott L. | copyright Challenged Hiking
Above Mine Kill Falls in the Fall

The falls are simply awesome.

Although not with-in the blueline of the Catskill Park, the hike is definitely in Catskill territory. On an observation deck, you can view the falls from the top or hike down to the base. You can hike from Mine Kill State Park (read about the hike) to the falls or take a drive over to the park after, and go for a swim in the pool, picnic, or play a round of disc golf!

Tip: No charge for admission to the park or pool.

1.5-mile round trip (involves climbing)
Best: Spring, Summer, Fall

Trailhead, State Route 30, Schoharie County (Google Maps)

Mine Kill State Park Hiking Map (Falls trail at bottom of map)

Pratt Rock (AKA: New York’s Mount Rushmore)

View from the top of en:Pratt Rock in Prattsville, New York. Austin Donisan - via Wikimedia Commons
View from the top of Pratt Rock in Prattsville, New York.

In the small hamlet of Prattsville, there is a gem of a hike.

The hike up Pratt Rock is short but steep. However, the rock carvings by Zadock Pratt and his life will surely keep any kid interested. The view from the upper reaches of the trail are excellent. Trivia: Pratt Rock Park, the was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1992 and Ripley’s Believe it or Not once called it “New York’s Mt. Rushmore”

1.5-mile round trip (involves climbing)
Best: Spring, Summer, Fall

Trailhead for Pratt Rock, Prattsville, Green County

Originally posted 2016-11-28 10:33:03. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Last Updated on by Scott L.

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