Hiking the Huyck Preserve Trail
If you’re seeking out the best waterfalls of the Catskills, the Huyck Preserve Hiking Trail is hard to beat. “Huyck” sounds like “hike,” and this preserve protects over 2,000 acres and offers 12 miles of trails, open year-round from dawn to dusk. The majestic Rensselaerville Falls, which cascade over 120 feet, are easy to access, even if you’re traveling with some novice hikers — like we were.
We walked these mossy trails late last summer, with rays of light streaming through the canopy of trees above, the sound of falling water in our ears. The air was so thick with the scent of pine and fern that it felt as though we were breathing the color green.
The Rensselaerville Falls are far bigger than the falls behind Gavin’s (an all-inclusive Irish country inn located in Cornwallville) but far more friendly to the acrophobic than the staggering drop of Kaaterskill Falls (oh lordy, I can’t even look at my own pictures). For inexperienced hikers like us, traveling with 2 kids under the age of 10, we’d have to say the Rensselaerville Falls are just right.
These pristine falls are not for swimming, though local residents may apply for a beach pass to swim in nearby Lake Myosotis, which is also on the grounds of the preserve. And even if you aren’t eligible for a pass, you can scroll down on the Lake Myostois recreation page to get more info on kids’ swimming lessons, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing in the lake. For more hiking info, read the rules and download the trail map.
As our regular readers know, we are city people who can only handle lite outdoorsy activities. We parked near the E.N. Huyck Preserve Visitor Center, walked about half a mile up the falls trail and then came back. This was perfect for us! All this low-impact hiking can make you really hungry and thirsty so we recommending planning visits around the opening hours of Kuhar Family Farms, where you can get extremely delicious food on Wednesdays from 5pm to 9pm and Saturdays from 10am to 2pm. (Check their Facebook page before you go to make sure their hours haven’t changed.) Next time, we’re hoping to visit Helderberg Brewery, which is next door to Kuhar and has it’s own odd hours.
Our daughter had just turned 4 at the time of the hike, and long walks don’t really appeal to her, but she was into this magical place. The colorful array of wildflowers helped.
The Huyck Preserve is located in Renselaerville, NY.