Dangerous hikes in the Hudson Valley that require common sense and caution


The Hudson Valley and Catskills are known for the great outdoors and beautiful mountains to explore. But every year, hikers suffer from falls and fatal injuries for a variety of reasons, including hikers’ inexperience, trail excursions, and improper footwear or equipment, especially with sudden changes in the weather.

In New York State in 2020, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation [DEC] The Forest Rangers conducted 492 search and rescue missions, more than 20 percent of which took place in the Hudson Valley and the Catskill region.

These do not include what independent search and rescue teams saw. Catskills Twin Cloves Technical Rescue Team co-leader Stephen Tuomey said they get between 15 and 18 calls for Kaaterskill Falls alone each year, ranging from minor injuries to full body recovery .

“Our biggest is the Kaaterskill Falls area,” Tuomey said. “The problem is, people hike because they read about it, but they don’t have the proper shoes – they usually wear sandals or flip flops. Or, they walk where their ability simply does not allow them to. . “

When hiking, Tuomey suggests “be prepared for the worst”, even if it is an easy or difficult trail.


“Even if you are going out for a few hours, bring extra water, flashlights and night gear just in case,” Tuomey said.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation “Smart NY hikeThe campaign recommends that hikers of all experience levels not only prepare with proper clothing and sturdy hiking boots, but also bring other essentials such as rain gear, lights, hiking supplies. first aid, additional food, water, sun and insect protection, and navigation tools.

“DEC encourages visitors to all lands owned and managed by the State, [like] Kaaterskill Falls, to be aware of the risks and dangers inherent in wilderness areas and to stay on marked trails, ”said by email John Solan, Acting Director of the New State Forest Protection Division York, DEC.

Some of the region’s most remarkable hikes do indeed require experience and are not just for beginners. As the DEC warns on its website, “be realistic about your fitness and skill level” by not overestimating your abilities or underestimating Mother Nature – especially on these trails.

Kaaterskill Falls is a two-tiered waterfall in Greene County, New York Greene County, New York and the site of nine deaths since 1988, according to the DEC.

Sharan Singh / Getty Images

In early May, the body of a Yonker man, Jesse Ritholz, was found in the waters of Kaaterskill Falls after the 36-year-old man was reported missing. This was not the first time that a hiker has been found dead on this very popular Catskills hiking site. In 2016, a Newburgh man died sliding on ice and moss atop the falls. That same year, a 60-year-old woman and a 17-year-old boy from New Jersey were killed after falling from the top of the Upper Falls.

Since 1988, nine people have died in the falls area, according to the DEC. Between the crowds hiking this trail and the sheer cliffs and slippery rocks, caution and preparation are a must.

Beginning in 2014, state officials began creating more accessible and safer routes to view the dual-level falls and closed a popular parking lot this year to encourage more people to use them. Over $ 1.25 million, mostly from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s NY Works program, has been spent to improve the safety and experience of visitors to and around the falls. Upgrades included an observation deck, a 200-foot cable handrail overhaul for a half-mile section of the hike and more. Additionally, the park has increased the ranger presence and is working directly with the Green County Sheriff’s Office, State Police, and the Hunter Town Police Department.

The hike to Bash Bish Falls, located on the New York and Massachusetts border in the Taconic Mountains, is easy.  The falls themselves are dangerous due to the slippery conditions around them.

The hike to Bash Bish Falls, located on the New York and Massachusetts border in the Taconic Mountains, is easy. The falls themselves are dangerous due to the slippery conditions around them.

Melissa Rodriguez

Located on the border of New York and Massachusetts in the Taconic Mountains, Bash Bish Falls is a frequent destination for residents and visitors to the Hudson Valley. While the hike to the falls is straightforward, fatalities have occurred here mainly due to people climbing or jumping off cliffs in the rocky, shallow waters below. More … than 25 deaths occurred from the falls in the last century – some due to drowning, but mainly from climbing or jumping. In 2017, 21-year-old Aiden Campion-Pratt was pulled out of the water days after slipping to death on a rock. The pools at the base of the falls are shallow and although signage says swimming is not allowed, it is often crowded with bathers.

A hiker died this year when he fell off a 100-foot cliff on Castle Point Road in Minnewaska State Park.

A hiker died this year when he fell off a 100-foot cliff on Castle Point Road in Minnewaska State Park.

Ashley Hoffman

In March of this year, a 24-year-old hiker has died in a 100 foot drop off a cliff at Minnewaska State Park on Castle Point Road on the Carriage Trail. No other fatalities have been reported, but Minnewaska State Park offers some challenging trails like the 8.3-mile Sam’s Point Trail Loop where you need to be mindful of the terrain and your hydration. Nearby at the Mohonk Preserve, which has a combined trail system to Minnewaska State Park, a man from brooklyn died on May 22 of this year after falling 20 feet and hitting his head. Initial investigations suggest that Evrim Cabuk, 31, was recovering hiking gear when he lost his footing and fell.

Hasbrouck Park in Kingston is generally visited without incident.  However, the ancient cement caves should only be visited with caution.

Hasbrouck Park in Kingston is generally visited without incident. However, the ancient cement caves should only be visited with caution.

Portico Trip

Hasbrouck Park, Ulster County

In 2019, a 20-year-old SUNY New Paltz student fell 150 feet to death from a cliff at Hasbrouck Park in Kingston. hiking with a group of friends. The group was exploring the ancient cement caves and trails in the park when they got lost and found themselves at the edge of the cliff. The conditions that night were muddy and rocky, making the recovery of the student’s body difficult and it was eventually postponed until the next day.

This trail in the Hudson Highlands is nationally known for its incline and difficulty. A man from New York City died while hiking at Breakneck Ridge in 2017. He was first reported missing after he never returned from his hike, and his body was spotted several days later by a other hiker. Emergency response teams then walked 30 feet along a cliff with “difficult terrain“to retrieve it. This particular hike is notable for its steep climb to a peak of about 1,200 feet, and for several rock scrambles, which can challenge hikers of all experience levels. This one is definitely not for small children and not ideal for most dogs.

Canajoharie Falls, located just south of the Capital Region, have claimed several lives.  The most recent was in 2012 when a man from Schenectady died on Memorial Day after jumping into the pool at the bottom.

Canajoharie Falls, located just south of the Capital Region, have claimed several lives. The most recent was in 2012 when a man from Schenectady died on Memorial Day after jumping into the pool at the bottom.

Robert jewell

Canajoharie Falls, Montgomery County

Just south of the Capital Region is the Canajoharie Creek, which has claimed several lives in the past. Between 2001 and 2004, three people died after jumping in the falls. In 2012, a Schenectady man lost his life on Memorial Day after he jumped into the pool at the bottom and didn’t come back. A theory explaining why this field is so deadly is because of a stone ledge at the base of the waterfall which is not visible and can cause falls.

Devil’s Path, Greene County

Although no fatalities have been reported on this trail, it has been described as one of “the most difficult and dangerous hiking trails in the eastern United States. Experienced hikers can reach three summits of the 35 Catskill High Peaks on this route, making this a highly desirable trail.

“The Devil’s Path is definitely one of the most technical and difficult crossings in the Catskills,” said Ali Kralick, member of Catskill 3500 (won by hiking the highest peaks of the Catskills) who made the crossing with his family last year. “There are a few scrambling sections that require a rock and root grab, and the constant loss and gain in elevation as you climb six mountains is a real workout.”

Stanley Rusin, public information officer and member of Catskill Mountain Search and Rescue agrees.

“Take your time,” Rusin said. “No part of Chemin du Diable has slippery rocks.”

Kralick also warns not to underestimate the crossing of Burroughs Range in the Catskills, calling one section, the Cornell Crack, a Class 4 race that can be made easier with a rope.

The Plotterkill Fire Department's Rope Rescue Team has made at least ten waterfall visits over the past three decades to save hikers.

The Plotterkill Fire Department’s Rope Rescue Team has made at least ten waterfall visits over the past three decades to save hikers.

Willard Gideon

Plotter Kill Preserve, Schenectady County

A teenager died in 2015 at Plotter Kill Preserve, making him the first death since 1993. However, ten more have fallen from waterfalls or ravine walls over the past three decades and have been rescued by the Plotterkill and Survived Fire Department Rope Rescue Team.

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