New Kaaterskill Falls Parking Lot

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New Kaaterskill Falls Parking Lot

New postby dave » Tue Jun 23, 2015 2:37 pm

The DEC has started construction on the new Kaaterskill Falls Parking Lot. It will be located at the end of Laurel House Road. There is accommodations for about 100 cars.

The DEC has also started construction for the bridge that will go over Lake Creek and hook up the Kaaterskill Rail Trail and the Southern part of the Escarpment Trail. This will be a huge improvement in the area.

The DEC has also started to build the trail from the Escarpment Trail to the lower part of the Kaaterskill Falls. At this point we do not know if there will be installing the steps or put in switch back trail down the 175' embankment.

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As we had expected most people are walking around the fence and still walking down to the top of Kaaterskill Falls. We believe that this will increase the amount of visitors to Kaaterskill Falls, and the rate of number of deaths will increase. Part of the objective was to reduce the deaths. Right now, Kaaterskill Falls is one of the deadliest waterfalls in the world.
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Re: New Kaaterskill Falls Parking Lot

New postby Jon » Tue Jun 23, 2015 7:19 pm

awesome. I haven't been there in very long. Most times I have the urge to stop off after a hike the parking area is always full. It is cool that you guys are constructing another way to get down there. Hopefully this new trail doesn't cause erosion in the ravine.

I think a large issue that has remained is the inability to go from the bottom to the top, or vice-versa safely. Most who are not familiar with the area expect there is or should be a path between the two, not that one should drive all the way down to 23a and hike up. I think anything besides closing the waterfall to reduce deaths is a good idea.
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Re: New Kaaterskill Falls Parking Lot

New postby mike » Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:27 pm

The general concept was to make Kaaterskill Falls safer. But, in reality, the work being done is to increase the amount of visitors there. Greene County Tourism is heavily promoting Kaaterskill Falls. I presume that some of the money being spent is from them. Apparently they are not aware that there are 50+ waterfalls in the Kaaterskill Clove.

1. They are going to put in a new parking lot which will double the amount of people at Kaaterskill Falls.
2, They are going to put in a trail from the Escarpment Trail to the bottom of the Fallss
3. They are going to put in step from the top of the Falls to the bottom. About 175' of vertical.
4. They are going to put in a platform to overlook the Falls (I think they are proceeding with this).
5. They are going to put the old hotel bridge in across Lake Creek. But, this project was approved a year or two ago.

They are going to do nothing with the traffic problems on Rt 23a

The fence they put in is working out poorly. When we were there on Saturday, 100% of the people just walked around the fence and walked down to the top of Kaaterskill Falls.

In our opinion, the deaths at Kaaterskill Falls will increase. Kaaterskill Falls is already one of the deadliest waterfalls in the world. It is going to get worse. There have been over 200 deaths there. There is a waterfall in Japan that has had 200 deaths, but 40 of the deaths are suicide. Niagara Falls has a large number of deaths, but 99% of them are suicide. Sort of like the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge.

The steps will be nice, but if someone tumbles down the steps they can take out a lot of people with them. From what I understand there will be no landing zones to stop tumbles.

We also hoped that they would cut open Prospect Point, but I don't think that will happen either.

One of the biggest problems is that the hike is too short and people have too much energy once they get to Kaaterskill Falls. With lots of energy, they start to explore. That is how they are getting killed. The changes will make the hike even shorter, and will increase the amount of visitors. This will result in more deaths. They now have a person there to warn people about the dangers of the Falls. But, we'll see how long that last.
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Re: New Kaaterskill Falls Parking Lot

New postby dundee » Thu Jun 25, 2015 1:20 pm

Jon wrote:awesome. .. It is cool that you guys are constructing another way to get down there. Hopefully this new trail doesn't cause erosion in the ravine.

I think a large issue that has remained is the inability to go from the bottom to the top, or vice-versa safely. Most who are not familiar with the area expect there is or should be a path between the two, not that one should drive all the way down to 23a and hike up. I think anything besides closing the waterfall to reduce deaths is a good idea.


What we need is FEWER people visiting the area, not more. We need more signage and more uniformed people, volunteer or paid, to advise visitors what is safe and what is not. The DEC has just opened a huge can of worms.
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Re: New Kaaterskill Falls Parking Lot

New postby kennykb » Thu Jun 25, 2015 8:28 pm

The top of the falls is comparatively safe. At least the rock is sound sandstone, and not the siltstone that you get lower down.

The really dangerous things are crossing the creek right at the top (it's a waterslide!), and climbing up or down to the middle tier of the falls and the dog memorial. The real killer spot is the place where the old trail turns coming out of the amphitheatre on the way to the base. The stone is slick and crumbly and even sure-footed people lose their footing there - and it's a lethal drop. I don't think there is a safe way into the amphitheater.

I've never been in, although the pictures have made me want to. I started up there from the base once, but got to a point where I said to myself, "I can see why they closed this. Coming up here is stupid," and turned around.
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Re: New Kaaterskill Falls Parking Lot

New postby mtnclimber » Sat Jun 27, 2015 8:30 am

Yup, those are some of the danger points. I lot of people also fall off the top near the water. By the boulder. They walk up to the edge, and think nothing of it. Or, they pack in there like sardines until someone gets bumped. There are some people who are trying to get a better view and fall off. People just need to understand waterfall safety.

I think they should have made the trail longer so that people are more tired when they get there. That would keep them from exploring dangerous places.
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Re: New Kaaterskill Falls Parking Lot

New postby Jon » Sun Jun 28, 2015 8:13 pm

dundee wrote:What we need is FEWER people visiting the area, not more.


I will have to disagree with this argument. As a young boy I was brought to Kaaterskill falls, as many other have been, and this may have been what instilled in me a life-long love of nature, which I have now dedicated all of my being to promoting, protecting, and discovering.

While we may get angry at people for being ignorant, disrespectful, and plain dumb, I do not think that restricting access to natural wonders is justified. I think more people should see the falls. More people should see the viewpoints. More people need to get out in nature and experience what is there, before it's all gone and nothing is left. In an age where it is difficult to get people to remove their noses from smart phones for more than 20 minute, and people spend most of their time mentally online, exposure to nature is all the more important. If people no longer go to see what is in nature, why would they ever have a reason to protect it?

Also from an ethical standpoint it is plain greedy. How would you feel if the day you were going to hike to the falls for the first time, was the day that all who have already been there decided to close it?

Yes, more people hiking will likely cause more accidents. There needs to be more work done to make it safer, so that all can enjoy. I don't know what the answer is, but I will never agree with or argue for less people. Conservation and protection of nature is always a double edged sword.
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Re: New Kaaterskill Falls Parking Lot

New postby dundee » Mon Jun 29, 2015 8:22 am

Jon, you say we need more people at K-Falls, but then you say more people will causse accidents. Which way do you want it?

I would oppose closing the falls and never mentioned that, but making a bigger parking lot at Laurel House Rd. and installing a stone stairway is just asking for trouble.

The local police could also enforce the parking laws on Rt. 23A. People park wherever they feel like, block each other in at the Molly Smith parking area and little if anything is done.
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Re: New Kaaterskill Falls Parking Lot

New postby mike » Mon Jun 29, 2015 11:22 pm

The primary reason there are so many deaths is because the hike to the falls is too short. People have too much extra energy, and they start to explore in places they don't belong. We had suggested to the DEC to make the hike longer. But, that isn't going to happen. It's okay to have a lot of people at KF. But, they have to be tired enough that they will not explore. Secondly, they have to be educated how to hike around waterfalls. Once this is done, the deaths will be reduced.

The real sad part is that there are over 50+ waterfalls in the Kaaterskill Clove, but the public only knows about 2 waterfalls. Catskill Mountaineer had suggested putting a parking lot at the bottom of the clove. This is where the PA was in the early 1900's. The trail up Lake Creek is still there. This would have made the hike about 4-5 miles round trip. It would also allowed people to visit Fawn's Leap, Lower Buttermilk Falls, Bastion Falls, and Kaaterskill Falls. This would have spread out the visitors and added more options. It would have gotten all the cars and people off Rt 23a. There would be a place for hikers, climbers, ice climbers, swimmers, hunters, and skiers. It would also provide an alternate access to the upper trail (waterfalls). instead of the access from Palenville. It would have provided about 300 parking spaces. It would have solved all the problems.

The Greene County Tourism is also driving some of this. they had suggested more options at KF. They have been promoting KF relentlessly. We suspect that they are paying for some of the work at KF, so the DEC is doing what they want. It is suppose to be about safety, but the work is more about tourism. We don't disagree with attracting more people to the Catskills Mtns. But, there are some many things to see. Kaaterskill Falls is just one of many gems to be visited.

By the way. The DEC cannot close Kaaterskill Falls, so that will never happen. But, they can change it enough to mitigate the deaths, and accommodate future needs.

Then there is the fighting between the DEC and DOT. The DOT wanted to put in a walkway along Rt 23a about 10 years ago when they were redoing this section. The DEC refused to allow this. The people then started to walk in the road. The fighting continues today.
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Re: New Kaaterskill Falls Parking Lot

New postby Joe McHugh » Tue Jun 30, 2015 12:01 pm

I saw a man fall from the lower falls New Year's Day 2004. Weather was warm (50s) but snow remained from earlier in the season and trail was an icy, wet mess. Luckily we were there and I happened to be looking up when he tumbled down, otherwise no one would have see him or been there to help. He landed in a freezing pool of water hidden behind a big boulder, unconscious, crumpled up like a broken umbrella and suffering some gruesome lacerations. We were reluctant to move him, but decided we had to get him out of the water. Sent friends for help and nearly 2 hours later about 10 rescuers arrived. By this time he was conscious, barely, and SARs asked a now small group of gawkers, including us, to leave. A TV crew was waiting at the horseshoe bend.

I tried but never found out what happened to the guy. Not as much info on the net back then. I go to the falls at least once a year still, and probably annoy my friends with warnings about its dangers. That didn't stop us from going around the wooden fence at the top this Memorial Day though. It did seem to dissuade some groups, but most went around.
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