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The Beaver Kill, sometimes written as the Beaverkill or Beaverkill River, is a tributary of the East Branch of the Delaware River, approximately 44 miles (71 km) long, in the U.S. State of New York. The kill drains a 300-square-mile (780 km2) area of the Catskill Mountains and has long been celebrated as one of the most famous trout streams in the United States. Its preservation helped establish many of the basic conservation principles of rivers in the United States.
The river has been popular as a trout stream since the early 19th century, when it became one of the first resort destinations in the United States. The subsequent depletion of the brook trout population by the 1850s led to an early conservation movement to preserve the river, including the introduction of hatcheries for brown trout. Its popularity as a trout stream arises in part from the many cold springs and deep pools in the upper river that keep the water at an even cold temperature. The fly fishing industry is centered around Roscoe, home to several fly-shops and bed and breakfasts catering to fishermen from around the world. More local fly fishing history and information can be found at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum located in Livingston Manor.
The Beaver Kill rises in western Ulster County, beginning at an elevation of 2,760 feet (840 m) just south of the col between Graham and Doubletop mountains, two of the Catskill High Peaks in the Town of Hardenburgh. It descends gently from here, first on private land belonging to the descendants of Jay Gould, then into the Big Indian-Beaverkill Range Wilderness Area, part of the Forest Preserve in the Catskill Park. Shortly after entering state land, it receives its first tributary, an unnamed stream that flows down steeply from the southeast slopes of Doubletop.
At its first crossing, the Neversink-Hardenburgh Trail, the stream turns west and enters a different state-owned parcel, the Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest, paralleling the trail for two miles (3 km) to the Quaker Clearing trailhead at the end of Beaverkill Road. Here it turns southwest again and parallels the road through the minimally developed valley, widening slightly as it does, and receiving from the north tributaries such as Alder Creek. It gradually moves to a more westerly direction until just short of the Delaware County line it turns southwest again and parallels it just past the small hamlet of Lew Beach where it enters Sullivan County. Here it keeps the same course. The covered Beaverkill Bridge crosses it at the Beaverkill State Campground, a popular fishing spot. After briefly bending into Delaware County it reaches the only significant settlement along its length, the hamlet of Roscoe, where its largest tributary, Willowemoc Creek, joins it from the east at the Junction Pool, the Beaver Kill's best-known fishing hole. The confluence also marks the point where the Beaver Kill becomes part of the Blue Line, the boundary of the Catskill Park]].
It also starts to parallel another road, the NY 17 expressway slowly being converted into Interstate 86. Widening and turning westward again, it soon enters Delaware County and the Town of Colchester for good, passing the small hamlet of Cooks Falls shortly afterwards. The river and the highway remain close, intersecting several times. At the Hancock town line, the Blue Line leaves the river.
For its last few miles, it bends northward slightly, staying alongside Route 17. At the hamlet of East Branch, it drains into the East Branch, approximately 10 miles (16 km) northeast of where it joins the West Branch to form the Delaware's main stem.