Stream Recreation and Activities

Fish­ing  |  White­wa­ter Activ­i­ties  |  Hik­ing  |  Resources

Oxclove Creek

The Ashokan Water­shed offers abun­dant recre­ation­al activ­i­ties to res­i­dents and vis­i­tors to the area. Town cen­ters sport a vari­ety of restau­rants and shops. Near­by Bel­leayre Moun­tain has down­hill and cross-coun­try ski­ing in the win­ter and music fes­ti­vals in the sum­mer. The Catskill For­est Pre­serve offers the oppor­tu­ni­ty to hike numer­ous trails, camp, and in some loca­tions, even swim. Most parcels owned by the New York City Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion (DEP) are open to the pub­lic for a vari­ety of activ­i­ties includ­ing hik­ing, hunt­ing, and fish­ing. Vis­it this DEP web­site for more infor­ma­tion on obtain­ing access to City owned lands. Be sure to check the sig­nage on land that you wish to visit.

Ulster Coun­ty has devel­oped an excel­lent online, inter­ac­tive map for locat­ing pop­u­lar sites for fish­ing access, hik­ing trails, and camp­grounds. Vis­it the Ulster Coun­ty RECon­nect web­site to use this nifty online tool.


Fish­ing is an impor­tant part of the cul­ture of the Ashokan Water­shed and the Catskill Moun­tain region. The Catskills are known as the “Birth­place of Amer­i­can Fly Fish­ing” and were the home of pio­neers of the sport includ­ing Theodore Gor­don, who is wide­ly con­sid­ered to be the father of Amer­i­can dry fly fish­ing. Fish­ing is an impor­tant part of the local tourism econ­o­my in the Ashokan Water­shed. Because of stock­ing efforts in the ear­ly 20th Cen­tu­ry, the Eso­pus Creek has earned a rep­u­ta­tion as a wild rain­bow trout stream. Anglers can find brook trout in the cool­er head­wa­ters of most streams. Rain­bow and brown trout are found in larg­er streams, such as the Eso­pus Creek. Over 200,000 brown trout are stocked annu­al­ly by the New York State Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion (NYSDEC) in the Eso­pus Creek.

A num­ber of pub­lic fish­ing access loca­tions are avail­able to anglers in the Ashokan Water­shed. Pub­lic Fish­ing Rights (PFRs) are per­ma­nent ease­ments pur­chased by the NYSDEC from will­ing landown­ers, giv­ing anglers the right to fish and walk along the stream­bank. Vis­it this NYSDEC web­site to locate fish­ing access sites. The NYC DEP also offers access to some areas for fish­ing. While many DEP lands are free to access, some require a water sup­ply land access per­mit. Vis­it DEP’s water­shed recre­ation web­site for infor­ma­tion on obtain­ing permits.

In addi­tion, there are many clubs and orga­ni­za­tions that can help you become acquaint­ed with the sport of fish­ing if you are new to it. The Fed­er­at­ed Sportsmen’s Clubs of Ulster Coun­ty and sim­i­lar orga­ni­za­tions give fish­ing class­es and offer youth and fam­i­ly fish­ing days. The area also has two chap­ters of Trout Unlim­it­ed, The Catskill Moun­tains Chap­ter and the Ashokan-Pepacton Water­shed Chap­ter, where trout fish­ing enthu­si­asts can meet oth­ers who share their pas­sion. Please remem­ber that to fish any­where in New York State you must pos­sess a valid NYS fish­ing license. Some waters also have addi­tion­al restric­tions. Back to top

Whitewater Activities (Tubing, Canoeing and Kayaking)

The Eso­pus Creek is clas­si­fied as a nav­i­ga­ble stream under New York State Law, which allows users to access the stream for white­wa­ter recre­ation, includ­ing canoe­ing, kayak­ing, and per­haps the most unique Catskill region recre­ation­al activ­i­ty: tubing.

The Amer­i­can White­wa­ter and White­wa­ter Clas­si­fi­ca­tion Sys­tem con­sid­ers the Eso­pus Creek to be a Class II-III stream mean­ing that much of the stream is appro­pri­ate for begin­ners with some more chal­leng­ing sec­tions appro­pri­ate for inter­me­di­ate pad­dlers. The creek is also home to the sec­ond old­est kayak slalom race in the Unit­ed States, in exis­tence since 1964, spon­sored by the Kayak and Canoe Club of New York (KCCNY). The KCCNY also hosts an annu­al Eso­pus White­wa­ter Fun­fest, usu­al­ly in ear­ly June, with races, riv­er-runs, and a freestyle “rodeo” where pad­dlers per­form maneu­vers and tricks on stand­ing waves.

Tub­ing has been a pop­u­lar pas­time on the Eso­pus Creek since at least the mid-20th Cen­tu­ry when school-aged chil­dren would take old truck inner tubes, inflate them, and coast down the creek to cool off on a warm summer’s day. As time went by and this activ­i­ty increased in pop­u­lar­i­ty, entre­pre­neurs began to fill the need for avail­able tubes and safe­ty equip­ment. There are cur­rent­ly two tube rental agen­cies oper­at­ing in the Ashokan Water­shed: Town Tin­ker Tube Rentals  and F&S Tube Adven­tures, LLC. Back to top


The entire­ty of the Ashokan Water­shed is locat­ed with­in the Catskill Park, which is a patch­work of New York State For­est Pre­serve and pri­vate­ly owned land. On the pub­li­cal­ly owned lands there are a vari­ety of recre­ation­al oppor­tu­ni­ties includ­ing: camp­ing, hunt­ing, fish­ing, and hik­ing. Many of the hik­ing trails dou­ble as cross-coun­try skiing/snowshoeing trails in the win­ter months. There is an abun­dance of long hik­ing trails that trans­verse many miles of ground and reach sev­er­al of the high peaks, such as Slide Moun­tain. These trails offer exer­cise and the chance to enjoy the beau­ty of nature. For more infor­ma­tion on NYS pub­lic trails, please vis­it this NYSDEC web­site describ­ing hik­ing and rock climb­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties. DEP also has many lands that are open to the pub­lic with des­ig­nat­ed trails as well as back­coun­try hik­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties. Back to top


For more information on Fishing Opportunities in the Ashokan Watershed please visit:

NYS DEC Fish­ing (

NYC DEP Fish­ing (

Fed­er­at­ed Sportsmen’s Clubs of Ulster Coun­ty (

Trout Unlim­it­ed Catskill Moun­tain Chap­ter (

Trout Unlim­it­ed Ashokan-Pepacton Chap­ter (

For more information on Whitewater Recreation in the Watershed please visit:

Town Tin­ker Tube Rental (

F&S Adven­tures, Inc. (

Kayak and Canoe Club of New York (KCCNY) (

Amer­i­can White­wa­ter (

For a list to Hiking Trails please visit:

NYS DEC web­site (

NYC DEP web­site (

Other Recreational Activities in Ulster County, NY

Ulster Coun­ty RECon­nect (

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