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NY DEC Watchable Wildlife

Outdoor Discovery

Hunter-Westkill Wilderness Area
Description: This remote wilderness area includes Hunter Mountain—second-highest peak in the Catskills—and three other summits within the Catskill High Peaks Bird Conservation Area. Outdoor enthusiasts as well as wildlife are drawn to the dazzling and often steep terrain, which has elevations ranging from 1,000 feet to 3,880 feet.

Wildlife to Watch: White-tailed deer and coyotes are the most frequently seen large mammals; watch for them in open areas at sunrise or sunset. Look for snakes on the forest floor beginning in spring. Watch for wild turkeys, Bicknell’s thrush, several different birds of prey and dozens of species of songbirds. You may flush a ruffed grouse if you step close to one in the brush. Black bears are present but few in number, so seeing them is rare. This also applies to bobcats, fishers and porcupines.

Special Tips: There are no restrooms in the area.

518-473-9518, DEC Division of Lands and Forests,


Other Activities: Seven miles of the popular, moderately difficult Devil’s Path traverse the northeast portion of the area, rising to the top of Westkill Mountain. This trail offers breathtaking views of the central Catskills from the Buck Ridge lookouts just east of the summit.

Diamond Notch Trail is a gentle 3-mile hike. Beautiful Buttermilk Falls, at the junction of Devil’s Path, drops about 25 feet in an amphitheater-like setting, with a small meadow nearby.

Ownership: NYS Department of Environmental Conservation 
Size: 19,250 acres 
Closest Town: Lexington

ParkingTent CampingFishingCross Country SkiingHikingHuntingHorse TrailsBicycling

Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing:

Catskills Big Pond - Photo by James Clayton
Please see map link below

Driving Directions:
Access the area from NYS Rte. 28, Rte. 42, Greene County Rte. 6 (Spruceton Rd.) and the Diamond Notch Rd. via NYS Rte. 214. Watch for trailheads and forest preserve parking areas.

Map Link

Hunter-Westkill Wilderness Area : Wildlife Viewing Area