Birch Creek is located in the northeastern most part of the Ashokan Watershed. Its headwaters begin above Crump Road in the Town of Shandaken on the southern slopes of Halcott Mountain. Below Crump road, the main stem flows approximately 8 miles, entirely through the town of Shandaken, eventually draining into the Esopus Creek at Big Indian. The drainage area is approximately 12.8 sq. miles. Birch Creek is joined by several tributaries along the way including Cathedral Brook, Giggle Hollow, Rose Mountain Brook, and Rochester Hollow. In fact, most of the Belleayre Ski Resort is located within Birch Creek’s watershed and the runoff from Belleayre’s snowpack drains into Cathedral Brook.
Like many of the Ashokan Watershed streams and creeks, Birch Creek has an outstanding population of wild trout including Rainbow, Brown and native Brook Trout. The majority of brook trout can be located in the headwaters of Birch Creek and its tributaries, whereas brown and rainbow trout often inhabit the lower stream reaches below Upper Birch Creek Road. There are several recreational access locations along this stream: NYSDEC access at the Pine Hill day use area, NYCDEP Public Use Parcel along Lower Birch Creek Road, and access near the top of the watershed along Upper Birch Creek Road which includes both DEC and NYCDEP land. Handicap fishing access for stocked trout is available at the end of Upper Birch Creek Road at the former Doc Riser estate.
Birch Creek was assessed in 2011 by Ulster County Soil & Water Conservation District staff with assistance from interns from the Student Conservation Association and Ulster County Community College. The assessment focused on recording locations of bank erosion, suspended sediment source areas, potential private property riparian buffer restoration locations, native plant material source areas, and infrastructure threats. This inventory of stream features and corridor condition is being used in conjunction with historical data to develop a stream management plan for the creek that will describe the stream health and condition in order to offer recommendations for future management.
The Birch Creek was assessed in 2012. A full report on Birch Creek conditions and recommendations will be available on this website when it becomes available.