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Hike in the Catskills to Diamond Notch Falls

Updated: Feb 23, 2021

This summer, the Catskills began being on my radar as a state park. I'd like to explore more. Talking to a fellow hiking friend, she told me about the 3500 club and the state park's high peaks. I was surprised I had never heard of this till this summer.

From breaking my ankle in December of 2019, which you can read about here. I wanted to test out my ankle on a trail that wasn't a high peak. I have been hiking in my local area, but I know very little about the Catskills.

My lack of knowledge leads to me search trails on All Trails. I always turn to all trails for trail reviews and discovering trails. Once's I got a trail name, I turned to my Nate Geo printed map to study the area.

Whenever you go on a hike, always have a printed map. It'll help you navigate, and if your phone dies or cannot connect to the internet, which many spots in the Catskills you lose service, it's best to have a printed reference.

With a printed map, you're more likely to study the trail before hitting the trail. I recommend reviewing the route multiple times before going. If you rely on technology before your hike, you'll rely on it during your hike.

When my friends and I did the Neversink Area hike, we just read over All Trails distance and elevation. That was it. None of us studied a map or really reviewed it. Which lead to all of us not being fully prepared. We were constantly checking the All Trails app for guidance. I'm not perfect about always checking, but you'll know why it's not smart or safe once you experience this.

Tips For This Trail:

🍍Know your own limitations

🍍Expect to have no cell phone service

🍍Wear supportive ankle shoes

Diamond Notch is a beginner hike for the area and a great way to push yourself to a different hiking level.

Keep in mind, there are two ways to get to the final view with the bridge. The other parking lot has more spots and is easier to access. People parking at the lot is looking for more of a stroll.

One way is 4 miles in and out, the other is 1.4 miles in and out. This review will be from the parking lot that is 4 miles from the bridge and fall and back.

How To Get There & Where to Park:

On this trail, you'll lose trail off Diamond Notch Road. There are two spots to park for this trailhead. If you do not have all-wheel drive, your parking is limited to the parking spot. I recommend not trying for the closer location if you are not comfortable with off-roading.

The parking spot before the off-roading section is close to the trailhead. This location is where the below directions will go to.

Coming from NYC or Northern NJ:

🍍Take NJ-17 N and I-87 N to NY-28W in Ulster

🍍Take exit 19 from I-87 N (1.5 hours)

🍍 Continue on NY-28 W and Drive to Diamond Notch Road in Laneville, NY (40 minutes)

Distance from NYC: 141 (~3 hours)

Distance from Albany, NY: 77 miles(1 hour and 45 minutes)

When to visit: All year round, preferred summer and fall

Why go: Beautiful hike that will help increase skillset level

What conditions to expect in the fall:

🍍 Fallen leaves

🍍 Potentially icy

🍍 Changing temperatures

Location: Catskill State Park, New York

Distance: 4 miles loop

Elevation Gain: 1,387 feet

Estimated Time: 4 hours and 30 minutes

Difficulty: 🍍 🍍

Pass/permit: No

Dogs: Yes, leashed

Road access: Diamond Notch Road, Parking Lot Trail Head

Start Your Hike

The trailhead is well marked, whether you park at the parking lot down the road from the sign-in parking lot or down the road. When you arrive at the sign, it marks the route to Diamond Notch Lean-to is 1.5 miles away. Within this 1.5 mile stretch, you experience a fantastic spread of terrain.

There is a spring that flows down the trail. When I went with my boyfriend, it was the end of October 2020. The spring was not strong, and part of it was frozen, so there was no issue crossing the stream because there wasn't a heavy flow. Be mindful of at the beginning of the trail, the spring will be on your right.

There will come the point where the trail marker splits to cross the stream. The Nat Geo Catskill Park #755 map has a not for an unreliable water source. The spring might be dry. When I went, this section was dry, but be mindful that might not be the cause.

If there was decent rain or snow melting, be mindful of this when planning to hike this area. Without the stream flowing, the climb up the crossing can still be tricky. However, if there is water flowing, be prepared with waterproof gear.

From here, you will begin to wander through some trees till reaching the incline that is loose rocks. The loose stones make this section more challenging but go at your own pace. Be mindful of your footing.

There is this unique rock that brought me back to my rock climbing days. We were both caught up in this rock and taking fun photos that we just left our bags balanced against a stone. When picking up my bag, I saw this gorgeous view and was in awe.

Honestly, if you get to this point and turn back, I will say you'll reach a fantastic viewpoint between Hunter Mountain and West Hill Mountain. Both mountains are part of the 3500 club. The Catskills have 35 peaks that are over 3,500 feet elevation. This trail resides between two peaks. Side note you can take this trail to complete the West Hill Mountain summit.

From this view, you have a short distance till the trail level offs, and you start to lose elevation on the way down to the lean-to. This gives you knowledge of knowing you'll have only .5 miles to the bridge and beautiful waterfall view.

At the bridges, you will see similar trailhead signs as you did in the parking lot. There are a few trails that branch off from this point. You will see a few hikers with packs, and they do allow backpacking in the area.

Bridge and Waterfall

Cross the bridge, and you will see ways to get down to the water and stand on the rocks. There you will have fantastic views of the falls. It is so therapeutic and relaxing.

One of the great finds my boyfriend found at REI was this blanket, which is more of a mat to protect you from where you're sitting with small weights in the corner to keep o the ground. We put this on the rock to sit and have time to enjoy the on-water falls and chat.

You can also walk up to the falls for nice shots in different spots.

Stay in the space for a half-hour or an hour. There are so many spots to snack, eat your summit meal or move on to another trail. Whatever you plan, I hope you enjoy it!

After enjoying this spot, we headed back to the car.

Overall Hike Summary

This is a fantastic introduction to hiking in the Catskills. This trail was an excellent challenge to increasing our hiking skills and getting to the next level. What first attracted me to this trail was the end result. The waterfall!

The waterfall was well worth the hike. Most of the walk is an elevation gain. Know if elevation gain is something you're lacking in, this will be an excellent way to push yourself.

The unknown of this hike made it memorable. Tackling the elevation gain was a great reward. When we had taken a beat to view the Catskill State Park, it was such an unexpected surprise.

Catskill trails are well marked. As soon as you get to the trailhead, it points you in the path's direction and has a marker for what color trail marker to follow.

What to Pack for This Trail:

🍍Base Layers


🍍Hiking Boots

🍍Water - bladder is recommended

🍍Hiking snack


It's essential to be prepared for every hike you go on. There are items you should bring for every hike you go along. Here is a post to check out to ensure you're safe for every hike.

Facts & Attractions of Catskills State Park

🍍 State Park in New York

🍍 600,000-acre state park

🍍 Oldest known forest on Earth

🍍 A vacation spot for many NYC residents

Save this Pin to be prepared for your first or next winter hike.

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