CATSKILL — All trails and parking facilities leading to the popular Kaaterskill Falls area will be closed until further notice, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said Monday.
“Kaaterskill Falls is an extremely popular destination for the recreating public which consists of several short access trails leading from large parking areas to the falls and the viewing platform,” the DEC said in a statement. “The falls, viewing platform and access trails are relatively small areas which concentrate recreationists such that proper social distancing, as recommended for reducing the spread of COVID-19, is not practicable.”
Kaaterskill Falls experienced heavy use on the weekend of March 21 and March 22 and again on April 4 and April 5.
“With school closings and non-essential workers staying home, we anticipate an unacceptable level of use will also occur during weekdays,” the DEC said. “Kaaterskill Falls is one of the state’s highest use areas and will continue to be subject to intense public use if actions are not taken.”
In addition, the Kaaterskill Falls area has seen a higher incidence of accidents requiring response from DEC and local first responders, the DEC said. This need is an added burden on the first responders, who are already taxed by the increased work due to the current COVID-19 health crisis.
“The parking areas at Molly Smith, Laurel House Road and Scutt Road will be barricaded and closed to public use. All access trails leading to the falls will be closed,” the DEC said. “We will also close the trail that leads from the Escarpment Trail to the bottom of the falls. Parking areas, access trails and information kiosks will be signed with appropriate signage indicating that the Kaaterskill Falls area is temporarily closed. Signage will include information regarding the temporary closure due to COVID-19 concerns and will include COVID-19 protocols.”
All other trails in the North-South Lake unit remain open for use, the DEC said.