An Avian Paradise: 10 Best Hiking trails in the Catskills for Bird Watching

Catskill Mountains for Bird Watching

Have you ever heard the melodic symphony of a wood thrush singing in the heart of the Catskill Mountains? Or marveled at the acrobatic flight of a black-billed kite soaring above the treetops? If not, then you’re in for a treat! The Catskills, a land of rugged peaks and lush valleys, is a haven for birders and nature enthusiasts. 

With over 300 species of birds recorded in the area, the Catskills offer some of the best bird-watching opportunities in the northeastern United States. And what better way to spot these feathered friends than by hiking the many trails that wind through the region? 

This blog post will give you an expert-curated list of the top 10 Hiking trails in the Catskills for Bird Watching. From challenging peaks to leisurely strolls, we’ve got something for everyone. So pack your binoculars, lace up your hiking boots, and discover the avian paradise of the Catskills.

Escarpment Trail

The Escarpment Trail runs for about miles through the heart of the Catskill Mountains, offering great bird-watching opportunities along the way. The trail offers stunning views of the Hudson River Valley and the Catskill Mountains, as well as a variety of birds and other wildlife. The trail is well-marked and easy to follow, making it a great option for both experienced hikers and those new to the sport.

Red Eyed Vireo

A variety of birds can be seen along the Escarpment Trail, including songbirds such as Eastern Bluebirds, Eastern Towhees, and Red-Eyed Vireos; raptors like Red-Tailed Hawks and Peregrine Falcons; Woodpeckers like Red-Bellied and Hairy Woodpeckers; and a host of others. 

You’ll find plenty of opportunities to take in the scenery and explore along the trail. The Escarpment Trail passes through several state parks such as Kaaterskill Falls and Slide Mountain Wilderness, which offer stunning views of the surrounding area. There are also a number of side trails that lead to other points of interest, such as old fire towers, abandoned mines, and more.

The Escarpment Trail is a great way to experience the Catskill Mountains – its unique sights, sounds, and wildlife. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just starting out, the Escarpment Trail is sure to provide an unforgettable experience.

Overlook Mountain Trail

This trail offers a moderate hike to an overlook with views of the Hudson Valley and the chance to spot many bird species. The summit of Overlook Mountain is home to a fire tower that offers 360-degree views of the surrounding area. The lower section of the trail passes through a dense forest, providing ample opportunities to see birds in their natural habitat. Keep your eyes peeled for warblers, woodpeckers, and other feathered friends!


The Overlook Mountain Trail is one of the best hiking trails in the Catskills for bird watching. The trail is located in the heart of the Catskill Mountains and offers stunning views of the surrounding area. The trail is also home to various birds, including warblers, sparrows, woodpeckers, and raptors.

Birders will love exploring the Overlook Mountain Trail and its many avian inhabitants. Warblers are some of the most colorful birds in North America, and they can be found in abundance on the trail. Sparrows are also common on the trail, and their cheerful songs add to the beauty of the surroundings. Woodpeckers are another type of bird that can be found on the trail, and their loud calls add excitement to any hike. Raptors such as hawks and eagles can also be seen flying overhead, adding an extra element of adventure to the experience.

No matter what time of year you visit, you’re sure to see a variety of birds on the Overlook Mountain Trail. Spring is an excellent time to see warblers, while fall is a great time to spot raptors migrating through the area. Winter is a beautiful time to hike the trail when snow blankets the landscape and creates a truly magical scene. No matter what season you visit, you’re sure to have a memorable birding experience on the Overlook Mountain Trail!

Balsam Lake Mountain

Balsam Lake Mountain is a moderate trail that offers an opportunity to see many different birds of prey, as well as warblers and sparrows. The trail is located in the Catskill Mountains of New York.


The trailhead for Balsam Lake Mountain is located at the end of FS Road 47, which can be accessed from either the Neversink or the Beaverkill. The trail is 3.8 miles long and climbs 1,500 feet to the summit of Balsam Lake Mountain.

The first half of the trail is relatively easy, with only a few small hills to climb. However, the second half of the trail becomes much steeper and more difficult. There are several stream crossings along the way, so hikers should be prepared for wet feet.

At the summit of Balsam Lake Mountain, hikers are rewarded with views of nearby mountains, including Slide Mountain, Panther Mountain, and Mount Tremper. Birders will also enjoy seeing many different birds of prey, including hawks, kestrels, and eagles. Warblers and sparrows can also be found along the trail.

Blackhead Range Trail

The Blackhead Range Trail is a challenging, yet rewarding, hike that offers stunning views of the surrounding area and an opportunity to see a variety of different bird species. The trailhead is located just off Highway 93, about 5 miles north of the town of Jasper. The trail itself is just over 3 miles long and gains nearly 1,000 feet in elevation.

Three toed Woodpecker

While the trail can be strenuous at times, it is well worth the effort as it takes hikers through a variety of different ecosystems. The lower portions of the trail wind through dense forests while the upper sections offer more open views of the surrounding mountains. Along the way, hikers will have a chance to see many different bird species, including woodpeckers, warblers, and thrushes.

Hikers should come prepared with plenty of water and snacks as there are no facilities along the trail. In addition, due to the steep nature of the trail, hiking boots are recommended.

Hunter Mountain trail

The Hunter Mountain trail is a great moderate hike that offers stunning views and the opportunity to spot many different bird species. This trail is perfect for those who want to enjoy a leisurely hike with plenty of chances to see wildlife. 


Along the way, you’ll have sweeping views of the valley below and plenty of opportunities to snap pictures of beautiful birds. Some of the most common bird sightings on this trail include warblers, sparrows, and thrushes.  

The trail itself is relatively easy, but you should be prepared for a few steep sections that could require some scrambling. Be sure to wear good hiking shoes and bring plenty of water.

At the top of the mountain, you’ll get a breathtaking view of the surrounding area. You can even spot the Catskills in the distance on a clear day. 

The Hunter Mountain trail is a great way to spend an afternoon exploring nature and taking in breathtaking sights.

Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide Trail

The Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide Trail is one of the most popular hiking trails in the Catskills for bird watching. The trailhead is located at the end of Wittenberg Road in the town of Shandaken. From there, the trail climbs steeply for about a mile before leveling off and following an old logging road through a mixed forest of hardwoods and evergreens. 


After another mile, the trail reaches Cornell Mountain, where there are spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The trail then descends again, this time to Slide Mountain, the highest peak in the Catskills. Along the way, there are many opportunities to see birds such as hawks, eagles, woodpeckers, warblers, and thrushes.  

At the summit of Slide Mountain, hikers can take in the sweeping views of nearby mountains and valleys. There are also two lean-tos that provide shelter from the elements. After resting at the summit, the trail descends once again and follows an old logging road back to the trailhead.

The Wittenberg-Cornell-Slide Trail is a great way to spend a day in the Catskills. Not only do you get to experience some of the best bird watching in the region, but you also get to take in amazing views while hiking through a beautiful forest.

Mount Tremper

The Catskills are home to a variety of bird species, making it a hotspot for bird watching. Among the best hiking trails in the Catskills for bird watching is Mount Tremper. This trail offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys and is also a great place to spot birds.

northern goshawk

Some of the birds spotted on Mount Tremper include the American kestrel, Cooper’s hawk, northern goshawk, red-tailed hawk, turkey vulture, and more. So whether you’re an experienced birder or just getting started, Mount Tremper is a great place to enjoy some quality time outdoors while keeping your eyes peeled for some feathered friends.

The Mount Tremper Trail is an easy-to-moderate 3.3-mile hike through the Catskill Mountains. The trailhead is located at the end of Sky Top Road in Mount Tremper, New York. From the parking lot, the trail follows an old woods road for 0.6 miles before reaching a fork in the road. At the fork, take the left-hand trail which will begin to climb steadily uphill for another 0.6 miles until you reach another fork in the road. 

At this second fork, take the right-hand trail which will take you on a more gradual ascent for 1.1 miles until you reach an open rock face with views of surrounding mountains. continue straight on this trail for another 0.5 miles until you reach a third fork in the road. At this final fork, take the left-hand trail which will lead you downhill for 0.7 miles back to the parking lot where you started your hike!

Finger Lakes Trail

The Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) is a 950-mile long-distance trail that runs from the westernmost region of New York State to the eastern Catskill Mountains. The FLT offers a great opportunity to see an array of different bird species as it passes through some of the most varied and beautiful landscapes in New York State.

purple finch

The FLT runs through a total of 11 counties and 43 towns. It traverses five state forests, two national forests, and a number of state parks and wildlife management areas. The trail is managed by the Finger Lakes Trail Conference, which is a volunteer-based organization that works to maintain and improve the trail.

There are many different birds that can be seen along the FLT. Some of the more common species include woodpeckers, owls, hawks, eagles, and warblers. More rare sightings have included ruffed grouse, purple finch, and American kestrel. In addition to bird watching, the FLT also provides opportunities for fishing, camping, hiking, and cross-country skiing.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting out, the FLT has something to offer everyone. So get out there and enjoy all that this amazing trail has to offer!

Twin Mountain

One of the best trails for bird-watching is the Twin Mountain Trail. This trail offers a moderate hike with great views, and a chance to spot many different bird species, including warblers and sparrows. The Twin Mountain Trail is located in the heart of the Catskill Mountains, and it offers beautiful scenery and plenty of opportunities to see different birds.

American Woodcocks

The trail starts at the Twin Mountain Trailhead, located off State Route 23. From here, you’ll follow a moderate to difficult climb up a steep ascent as you make your way to the top. As you ascend, take time to stop and observe the birds. In this area, you may spot many different species including Red-tailed Hawks, American Woodcocks, Blue Jays, and more.

Once you reach the summit of Twin Mountain, enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the Catskills and surrounding countryside. There are several benches scattered along the summit where you can take a break from your trek and take in all that nature has to offer. After enjoying the view at the summit, begin your descent back down towards your car and return home with memories of an unforgettable bird-watching experience!

Bellvale Mountain

The Bellvale Mountain trail is a great place to see a variety of bird species, including warblers, thrushes, and vireos. This trail is also a good choice for bird watching in the fall, when the leaves are changing color and the birds are migrating. 


The path is mostly flat and easy to navigate, so it makes for a nice walk or hike. There are plenty of places to stop and rest along the way, as well as lookout points to help you spot birds perched in the trees.

Some of the more common ones are robins, blue jays, and sparrows. However, if you’re lucky, you might spot a rarer bird like a goldfinch or a cardinal. Keep your eyes peeled and your camera ready.


With its abundant wildlife, stunning scenery, and a vast array of trails ranging from easy to difficult, the Catskills are an avian paradise. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced birdwatcher, there is something for everyone in the Catskills. We hope this article has provided you with some great ideas for your next birding trip in the beautiful Catskill Mountains!

The Catskills are a great place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, to get outside and explore nature. Whether you’re looking for an easy walk with plenty of birds to watch or a challenging hike with stunning views, there is something for everyone in the Catskills. With some of the finest hiking trails in the Northeast, birders will be sure to have an unforgettable experience in these majestic mountains. Don’t forget your binoculars!

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