June 19, 2006
Neversink Unique Area

Most people who hike in the Catskill region head straight for the high peaks in the Catskill Park, where there are some 300 miles of hiking trails, or to the sublime carriage roads found all along the Shawangunk Ridge. But there are other State lands in many far-off corners of the Catskill region that are certainly worth a day of exploration. One of the best of these places is the Neversink Unique Area in southern Sullivan County.

The State acquired its first 585-acre chunk of land in the area between the Neversink River and Wolf Lake in 1964, which became the Wolf Brook Multiple Use Area. In the early 1980’s the state purchased nearly 3,000 acres of land along the Neversink River in the area commonly referred to as the Neversink Gorge, creating the Neversink Unique Area. Today the Unique area is approximately 6,500 acres, with a total protected area of over 7,000 acres when adding in the Wolf Brook Multiple Use Area.

We had only been to this area once before, five or six years ago, and we’ve been anxious to get back to do some more exploring (and trout fishing) ever since. We got our chance last week, on the first gorgeous sunny day after about a month of gray and rainy weather. We didn’t get started until just after 3:00pm, but thanks to the long days of summer we were still able to spend a good four and a half hours hiking and fishing. We drove into the Wolf Brook Multiple Use Area from Wolf Lake Road and the access road that leads through the Multiple Use Area, under some huge power lines, to a parking spot on the edge of the Nevesink Unique Area. The entire access road was lined with countless mountain laurel in full bloom - it was spectacular!

One trail leads away from the parking area (elevation 1,600’), heading south. It was a foot trail marked with yellow State hiking trail markers. We had expected to find the trails here to be wide old logging roads, but instead it was nice to see beautiful narrow foot trails. This trail led south, in through the woods dominated by oak and mountain laurel, for a about a half-mile to the junction with a red-blazed trail. Here we turned left, coming quickly to a footbridge over Mullet Brook where we stopped to take some photos of the pretty stream. This trail curved west and paralleled Mullet Brook, dropping elevation as we headed toward the Neversink River. The pink and white laurel blossoms were brilliant in the afternoon sun, all along the trail. After another 0.8 mile or so, we came to the blue-blazed trail that parallels the Neversink River. We turned south on this trail and quickly entered a dark forest of eastern hemlock and thick green rhododendron. Our map did not show a trail going from this trail down to the river itself, so after only a tenth of a mile or so we found a small hemlock-studded stream and followed it downstream for another tenth of a mile or so to where it emptied into the Neversink River. Just as we’d hoped, it came out right at Denton Falls (elevation 935’).

The Neversink is a wide, wild, beautiful river here, and we might as well have been on one of the great trout rivers out west. There were big boulders and beautiful pockets, runs, and pools that looked very inviting for fishing. Denton Falls was not all that tall, perhaps five or six feet, but still wide and scenic. A long pool just upstream of the falls looked perfect for fishing, so that is where we spent the next two and half hours fishing. There were a few rises at the beginning, then a long period with no rises, then a few rises near the end, but we couldn’t coax any fish to our flies. Coming up empty on the fish certainly wasn’t enough to spoil our enjoyment of this beautiful place.

The river, down in it’s low valley, got dark much sooner than the surrounding hillsides, so we packed up and began our hike out at 7:00pm. We found a trail leading away from near the river, this one accessible to people with mobility disabilities using ATV’s by special permit. It led a few hundred feet up to the main blue trail, which we followed back south over Mullet Brook, and back up the way we came in on the red trail. On the way up the red trail we turned off on a yellow spur trail that led to a fantastic waterfall on Mullet Brook, approximately 20-25 feet tall. Rather than follow the spur trail back out the way we came in, we climbed up the steep bank on the far side of Mullet Brook, and bushwhacked a couple tenths of a mile through the thick mountain laurel until we came to another trail that led us back up the yellow trail, which we then followed back out to the car. We made it back with plenty of daylight to spare, despite the perception of urgency we felt it began to get dark down on the river.

This is definitely a great public treasure in our Catskill region, and we’ll certainly be back again!

- Aaron and Chris



Catskill Mountain Club

PO Box 558, Pine Hill, NY 12465