Waterfalls & Swimming

The Catskills region offers many beautiful spots to cool off on a hot day, from streams and swimming holes to formal beaches and public pools.


The Catskills region offers many great swimming spots. Please note that many of these can get crowded especially on hot days, and there may not be a lifeguard present. As always, please secure a permit (if required), follow posted rules, and carry out what you carry in.

North Lake Beach: Located in the North & South Lake State Campground, the North Lake Beach offers a beautiful swimming area surrounded by the mountains of the Catskills. Public bathroom/changing facilities are available. The beach is open to the public; a day use fee is in effect during the summer season.

Colgate Lake: Colgate Lake is located in the Town of Jewett on Colgate Lake Road (County Route 78), which is off of County Route 23C. The lake offers public swimming and picnicking areas, along with the opportunity to paddle if you’ve brought a boat. The nearby Colgate Lake Trail offers a moderate 4.3 mile walk to Dutcher Notch while passing through fields, beaver meadows and beautiful forested areas. There are no public facilities at this site.

Echo Lake: Hike up Overlook Mountain for access to this beautiful lake. Be cautious of the timber rattlesnakes in the area.

Belleayre Beach: The Beach offers a ton of fun activities and equipment rentals. Lifeguards are on duty. Fees are in place. For more information visit: www.belleayre.com. Just a mile away is the scenic Rochester Hollow trail, which winds along a stream and passes through many different types of Catskills scenery from hemlock stands to ruins of old homesteads. (Up to 6 mile hike out and back)

Mongaup Pond Campground: Located outside of Livingston Manor, swimming  is only permitted when a lifeguard is on duty. 

Peekamoose Blue Hole: This swimming hole sees extremely high traffic and now has a permitting system in place due to overuse. Permits are required on weekends and holidays in the peak season. Learn more here: https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/109922.html

Peekamoose Blue Hole Permits

In an effort to limit the overall use during peak visitation and to help protect the pristine quality of the Peekamoose Blue Hole, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will require that all weekends and holidays visitors of the Blue Hole book a permit. Permits may be acquired online at ReserveAmerica.com, at a minimum of 24 hours and a maximum of 7 days in advance. Permits will be available at no cost to the visitor, and each will allow access for up to 6 people. The goal of this permitting process is to limit the overall use during peak visitation to help protect the pristine quality of the Blue Hole. Learn more about the permit system and the efforts of the Catskill Center to assist in the stewardship of this Catskills resource:

Permits for the Peekamoose Blue Hole

Alternatives to the Peekamoose Blue Hole

Alternative locations for swimming, hiking, cultural, and food near the Peekamoose Blue Hole
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Platte Clove Preserve: Located at the head of Platte Clove, there is plenty of parking at the parking lot on Steenburgh Road. There’s a short road walk and then a short, easy hike down to Plattekill Falls, a beautiful 60-foot waterfall. Platte Clove Preserve is located at 2375 Platte Cove Road in Elka Park and is managed by Catskill Center.

Seasonal Platte Clove Road Closure Alert

The easterly two- and one-half miles of Town of Hunter Route 9, known as Platte Clove Mountain Road, is a seasonal limited use highway. Please be advised that the Town of Hunter shall not maintain nor remove snow or ice from said length of road between November 1, 2020 and April 15, 2021. Scheduled reopening will be weather permitting.

Town of Hunter Platte Clove Closure Announcement

Diamond Notch Falls: Located near the top of the Spruceton Valley, the 0.7 mile easy to moderate walk from the end of the Spruceton Road (County Route 6) ends where the West Kill Creek tumbles over Diamond Notch Falls. Along the way, the trail follows the West Kill Creek offering a number of areas to enjoy the scenery or take a swim in the many pools.

Vernooy Kill Falls: Located in the Sundown Wild Forest, Vernooy Kill Falls is made of a series of small waterfalls, with a footbridge across the base of the falls. Park in the lot on Upper Cherrytown Road in Rochester for a 3.6 mile hike with a 250 foot ascent.

Kaaterskill Falls: The tallest falls in New York State, Kaaterskill is a very popular destination. Access the observation platform at the top of the falls via a 0.5 mile trail from the parking area on Laurel House Road in Haines Falls. Pay close attention to posted signs regarding parking and trail access and for everyone’s safety do not park along Route 23A or anywhere outside of designated parking lots (which can fill quickly – if you must visit during peak times, try a ride share or local cab service).

Parking Area Closure Alert

The Molly Smith parking area on Route 23a in Hunter is closed to improve visitor safety. Visitors may access Kaaterskill Falls by parking at the Laurel House Rd, Schutt Rd, or South Lake parking areas.

Directions to alternate parking

Kaaterskill Falls Visitor Information

What you need to know before you go
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Alternatives to Kaaterskill Falls

Alternative swimming, hiking, food, and attractions near Kaaterskill Falls
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