Hiking: From the Archives | Tunis & Vly Ponds via Neversink-Hardenburgh Trail | South-Central Catskill Mountains, NY

There are not many generally level and easy to accomplish for all hiking types trails in the Catskills.  There is however, the Neversink-Hardenburgh Trail which spends almost its entire length along the valley floors and provides a route to explore two remote, natural ponds in the Catskills.  While, the entire Neversink-Hardenburgh Trail, from Black Bear Road to the parking area at the end of the Beaverkill Road is just over six and a half miles, the trip from the Beaverkill Road Trailhead to Tunis Pond is about three miles if you continue to the headwaters of the Beaverkill just beyond Tunis Pond.  If you end at Tunis Pond, the trip is about two miles or so, but since some of the trip is bushwhacking, that mileage can vary a bit.


The hike starts out from the parking area and trailhead at the end of the Beaverkill Road.  The Dry Brook Ridge Trail also starts from this trailhead, traveling north towards its Balsam Lake Mountain Trail.  For Tunis and Vly Ponds though, head east on the yellow marked Neversink-Hardenburgh Trail.  From the parking area the trail descends gently to Black Brook in just under half a mile.  The trail then climbs gently over a ridge and then descends to its crossing with Gulf of Mexico Brook at about the mile and a half mark.

After crossing Gulf of Mexico Brook, the outlet to Vly Pond is the next major stream crossing that the trail makes.  There is no official trail to Vly Pond, but several indistinct trails do leave from the Neversink-Hardenburgh Trail.  If you miss the herd paths, follow the outlet of Vly Pond northward from the main trail less than a quarter of a mile to pond itself.  The pond is quite small and surrounded by swampy, grassy areas.  Its higher levels are mostly maintained by beaver dams, so depending on the beaver activity, the pond may be higher or lower.

From here return back to the Neversink-Hardenburgh Trail and continue about three quarters of a mile to the outlet of Tunis Pond.  Again there are indistinct herd paths that travel to the pond just east of the outlet, but the most surefire way of finding the pond it to follow the outlet northeastward to the pond, which really is a series of smaller ponds that like Vly Pond, who's water levels are regulated by the amount of beaver activity in the area.

After you return to the Neversink-Hardenburgh Trail I think it is well worth continuing on another three quarters of a mile or so to the point where the trail crosses the Beaverkill and begins heading south.  It is an incredibly beautiful area and one of the few remote mountain valley areas protected in the Catskills.  It reminds me a lot of stream headwaters in the Adirondacks.

Since a portion of this trip is off trail, I would highly recommend having a detailed hiking map with you (details on good choices are below).  The two ponds are not that far off the trail, but considering the remoteness of the area, it is best to be prepared and the map should make finding the ponds a lot easier.

Tunis Pond

Tunis Pond

Tunis Pond

old beaver meadow

Trip Details
Trail Conference Map #142 (Trail Description on Map #143)

Need more information on hiking and planning your 
trips to the Catskills and the Catskill Park?

Need a hiking map for your hikes in the Catskills? We recommend the Trail Conference's Catskills Trails 6-Map Set. These maps are the best available for hiking and outdoor adventures in the Catskills and the Catskill Park. The Catskill Center offers a regional map of the Catskills that provides an excellent overview of the region, it's roadways, attractions and trails. National Geographic Trails Illustrated also produces a map for the region. 

How about a guidebook? Both AMC and ADK publish trail guides to the Catskill Region and thAdventures in the Outdoors Bookstore carries many more books and maps that will help you as you hike and explore the Catskill Mountains region. 

If you are looking for more information about the extensive history of the Catskill Mountains and the Catskill Park, we would suggest reading The Catskills, From Wilderness to Woodstock and The Catskill Park, Inside the Blue Line. For the most comprehensive natural history of the Catskill Park and the Forests of the Catskill region, we recommend reading The Catskill Forest, a History by Michael Kudish.