November 3, 2003
Kelly Hollow

We were fortunate to have the opportunity last Sunday to hike with some very interesting folks and make some new friends. Carol and David White, authors of Catskill Day Hikes for All Seasons led a hike in Kelly Hollow, followed by a slideshow at The Catskill Center, highlighting many of their excursions in the Catskill Mountains. Kelly Hollow is one of the 60 hikes featured in this informative and user-friendly book. Sixteen people showed up for the hike despite patchy fog and light rain.

Located on Mill Brook Road on the border of Delaware and Ulster Counties, Kelly Hollow is primarily used for cross-country skiing - but hiking is great there too. The two loop trails (one 2 miles, the other 3.8 miles) allow visitors to see much of the hollow and its picturesque hemlock-lined streams where cascading water abounds. Carol and David chose to hike in a figure-8 pattern, allowing the group to traverse every foot of the trail system. The trails were incredibly muddy and the stream crossings a bit challenging. The bridge on the short loop was almost entirely underwater. We stopped for lunch at Beaver Pond, about 2 miles from the trailhead. The Kelly Hollow Lean-to, alongside Beaver Pond and underneath a tall Norway spruce plantation, provided a beautiful spot for lunch. We made our way back to the trailhead initially via the eastern trail. We hiked through another dense spruce plantation where bright green moss covered the roots and rocks, giving us a somewhat surreal feeling. We then crossed over to the west side of the hollow again via the short loop and returned to the cars a little wet, but very happy.

Catskill Day Hikes for All Seasons, published in 2002 by the Adirondack Mountain Club, is a guidebook that focuses on day use of the Catskill Mountains. One of the greatest attributes of this 176-page book is the mix of both difficult hikes as well as those more oriented for families or novice hikers. Hikes range from the extremely strenuous 15-mile Burroughs Range hike (Slide, Cornell, and Wittenberg), to a 1-mile stroll to Pratt Rocks. Appendix A provides a breakdown of all the hikes by their difficulty.

Another reason we love this book is that the 60 hikes are evenly spread throughout the Catskill Park. This encourages use of trails that normally do not receive as many hikers because they are not covered in other books or do not lead to high peaks. For newcomers to hiking in the Catskills, a description of the four seasons is provided as a means of preparing people for what they might expect in regard to weather, black flies, available water, and what equipment to bring. The seven principles of Leave No Trace camping are also listed as an encouragement for readers to minimize their impact on the environment and the hiking experience of others.

In addition to very detailed descriptions of each hike, maps of the trails are provided. Included on the maps are names and locations of points of interest, such as vistas, caves, waterfalls, and even plane crash sites. Because the maps in the book should not be used as trail maps, the White’s provide the name and number of both the New York / New Jersey Trail Conference maps and the USGS quadrangle maps where you can find the hike.

Of all of the hikes listed in the book, only two are located outside of the Catskill Park (Pratt Rocks and Bearpen Mountain). It would have been nice if the book had covered some other areas outside the Catskill Park with great day hikes, such as the Neversink Gorge State Unique Area in Sullivan County, Bear Spring Mountain Wildlife Management Area in Delaware County, and the Esperance State Forest in Schoharie County.

We highly recommend this book for anyone who hikes in the region. Carol and David’s passion and knowledge about the Catskills is evident throughout the book, providing readers with important details that other books miss. To get a copy of the book ($12.95 retail) stop by local bookstores, The Catskill Center, or log on to

- Chris and Aaron



Catskill Mountain Club

PO Box 558, Pine Hill, NY 12465