State finishes upgrades at Kaaterskill Falls
Safety and public access improvements at Kaaterskill Falls, the site of two deaths this year, have been completed.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation wants visitors to the Kaaterskill Wild Forest to follow the designated trails and obey posted signs in light of recent accidents at Kaaterskill Falls, which included a death.
The DEC this month completed safety and public access improvements at the Kaaterskill Falls that are part of a comprehensive effort to make the Kaaterskill Wild Forest area a safer and more enjoyable destination to visit, the agency said in a press release.
“DEC is committed to protecting and maintaining this unique natural and historic treasure in a manner that enhances public safety and is consistent with forest preserve management principles,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a statement. “DEC worked with state and local officials and user groups to develop these improvements designed to increase public safety while enhancing the user experience.”
Earlier this month, 30-year-old Anthony Miele of Newburgh fell to his death while hiking with a friend near the upper portion of the 260-foot, twodrop falls. Authorities said Miele slipped on ice and fell about 120 feet after having gone off the normal trail and trying to walk across an area covered with ice and moss. It was unclear at the time whether Miele had gone around safety fencing DEC installed at the top of the falls in 2014 and 2015.
The death was the second reported at the falls this year.
Late in July, 17-year-old Ezra Kennedy of Westfield, N.J., fell to his death while hiking with friends and relatives. Two women from Dutchess County fell to their deaths at the falls in the summer of 2014, leading to the installation of protective fences at the top of the upper falls.
Public access to Kaaterskill Falls was also restricted in the summer of 2015 while the DEC made $450,000 in improvements to enhance safety and upgrade trails.
According to the DEC press release, the agency has completed $750,000 in safety improvements at the Wild Forest area. That includes the installation of a 115-foot hiking bridge spanning Spruce Creek and connecting the hamlet of Haines Falls to the Escarpment trail and North/ South Lake campground. It also includes a new foot trail leading from the end of the marked Kaaterskill Falls trail at the base of the falls upslope to the middle pool of the falls, with a new stone staircase. The trail was also extended from the middle pool to the Escarpment trail, creating a key linkage between the top and the bottom of the falls.
Earlier this year, the DEC also expanded two nearby parking lots the agency manages. And in the fall of 2015, the DEC completed a fully accessible trail leading to a new accessible overlook platform at the top of the falls. The new trails, bridge, viewing platform and stone staircase address the public’s desire for access to a better view of Kaaterskill Falls and the middle pool area, while enhancing safety, the release said.