The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced the temporary closure of Kaaterskill Falls, the viewing platform, and connecting trails. The Kaaterskill Wild Forest will remain open to the public.
The closure of the Kaaterskill Falls site is part of DEC’s statewide efforts to reduce the community spread of COVID-19 by encouraging New Yorkers to safely and responsibly recreate locally. DEC is temporarily closing public access to the falls due to its unique features that do not provide for appropriate social distancing during the ongoing COVID-19 response.
Kaaterskill Falls is a popular destination that consists of several short-access trails leading from large parking areas to the falls and the viewing platform. The falls, viewing platform, and access trails are relatively small areas that are currently concentrating recreationists together, preventing safe social distancing at this site, as well as placing an unnecessary burden on and danger to State and local resources and emergency responders during the ongoing public health response. DEC officials say they will continue to evaluate the situation and will announce when these areas reopen to the recreating public.
DEC is closing parking areas at Molly Smith, Laurel House Road, and Scutt Road to public use. All access trails leading to the falls will be closed. Roadside parking in these areas is prohibited.
In addition, DEC is blocking roads leading to the North-South Lake Campground to encourage social distancing and reduce visitor density while providing access for hikers to visit trails that connect with the campground.
While enjoying time outdoors, New Yorkers should follow CDC/NYS Department of Health (DOH) guidelines for preventing the spread of disease:
- Try to keep at least six feet of distance between you and others;
- Avoid close contact such as shaking hands, hugging, or sharing binoculars;
- Wash hands often or use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available; and
- Avoid surfaces that are touched often such as handrails, doorknobs, and playground equipment.
DEC and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) are encouraging New Yorkers to engage in responsible recreation during the ongoing COVID-19 response. DEC and State Parks recommendations incorporate guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Department of Health for reducing the spread of infectious diseases and encourage New Yorkers to recreate locally, practice physical distancing, and use common sense to protect themselves and others. In addition, DEC and State Parks launched the #RecreateLocal hashtag and encouraged New Yorkers to get outside and discover open spaces and parks close to home.
Photo of Kaaterskill Falls courtesy DEC.