The Adirondack Mountain Club’s Catskill Trails guidebook is edited by David and Carol White and covers the hiking trails within the Catskill State Park in New York. The guidebook is not quite as comprehensive as the AMC’s Hiker’s Guide to the Catskills, but for most people hiking in the Catskills, the two books are almost interchangeable. The only major difference is that the ADK book does not include a removable map.
The book opens up with a small map providing an overview of the Catskill State Park and a short introduction to hiking in the Catskills. Then as you get into the trail descriptions, the Catskill Trails guidebook breaks the Catskill trail network down by major areas that include the:
Black Dome Valley – Northern Escarpment; Palenville, North-South Lake; Platte Clove; Stony Clove; Pine Hill-Big Indian to Denning; Woodstock to Shandaken; Peekamoose; Arkville to Seager; Beaverkill – Willowemoc Creek; and Prattsville to Shandaken
Each of these trail sections opens up with a short introduction to the region that includes a general overview of the area, categorization of the trails by short, moderate and harder, a list of all the trails that are described and a guide on how to reach the major trailhead of each area. There is a small location map for each region and that is followed by the descriptions of each trail in that area. Black and white photos are scattered throughout the book, illustrating some of the trails.
The trail descriptions each start with a short description and guide to the trailhead. In addition there is reference to the trail’s location on the New York New Jersey Trail Conference Catskill Trails Map set. The descriptions themselves are thorough and generally provide a good idea of what to expect while you are hiking in the Catskills. Trail conditions and trails themselves do change all the time though, so in places the information may be slightly out of date. That said, just about anyone would be able to hike a trail following this guidebook, even if there are slight changes to trails.
The descriptions include mileages between major points along the trail, information on trail grade and descriptions of any vistas that you may come across along the trail. At the end of each description is a summary of the trail distances and elevation changes.
There are also several hike descriptions up peaks without trails. In these cases, the descriptions provide enough information to get a general idea how to bushwhack the peak, but a detailed map is needed for these trips along with some navigation experience before you should attempt to go into these trail free areas.
Following the descriptions, the book includes a series of appendices that includes a glossary and a list of peaks in the Catskills that are higher than 3,000 feet. That is followed by information on State Campgrounds in the Catskills, information about the editors and information on the Adirondack Mountain Club.
All in all, especially when used in combination with the NYNJTC Catskill Trails Map Set, this book is a good guide to the Catskill Mountains. It covers a lot of ground and gives you a good idea of what to expect when you are hiking in the area. I don’t have a problem recommending it to anyone hiking in the region.