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Vacation Catskills

Tourist Guide

The Catskill Mountains
New York's Wilderness, Past and Present

Hunter Mountain in the Catskills offers 14 chair lifts and tows and 53 different slopes
Hunter Mountain


If you're visiting during winter, it's time to hit the slopes for a day of skiing. Known as the "Snowmaking Capital of the World," Hunter Mountain offers terrain for skiers of all abilities; there are 14 chair lifts and tows and 53 different slopes and trails. You'll also find ski-rental facilities, a ski school and various snack bars and restaurants where you can stop for lunch. If there is enough snow at the base of the mountain, you can try cross-country skiing on over five kilometers of trails. Windham Mountain provides a similar experience to Hunter but is a bit less hectic and a third option that's a little different from the rest is Belleayre. Operated publicly by New York State, it is somewhat less expensive and has a more laid back atmosphere.

The Devil's Path is a 27-mile trail that traverses the Catskills mountain range
Devil's Path

If there's no snow on the ground, get out early for an all-day hike.  Stop at the Village Market in Tannersville to pick up your favorite coffee and some homemade salads, breads and sandwiches for a picnic lunch. On the more strenuous side, you might try a section of the ominous-sounding Devil's Path. This 27-mile trail traverses the range that includes Hunter Mountain and is known for particularly steep slopes and deep valleys. Legend had it that when the devil wanted to be in solitude, he would retreat here because no one else could negotiate the craggy trail well enough to follow.  While serious hikers do the whole trip over three or four days, staying the night at mountain campsites as they go, there are plenty of access points along the way for just a day trip.  A popular entrance is at the end of Prediger Road off of Route 16, which connects to Route 23A near Hunter.

If you would like a little help in getting to the summit, take the Hunter Mountain Skyride to the top of the ski area. The lift will bring you up 3500 feet, and from there you can hike two miles to the Hunter Mountain fire tower, a 60 foot steel structure and the highest tower in the Catskills. The lifts, which usually open at the beginning of July each year, also accommodate mountain biking, with options for both beginners and advanced riders.  Another nice place to drive, hike or bicycle is North South Lake, a favorite subject of Hudson River school painters. To cool down, bring your bathing suit and take a dip. The lake is a short ways away from Hunter Mountain at the head of the waters leading to Kaaterskill Falls.

Slide Mountain is the highest mountain in the Catskills
Slide Mountain Summit

A good alternative for an all-day trip is the roughly five-hour hike up and down Slide Mountain, highest in the Catskills at 4,180 feet. Popular for good reason, it was the impetus for an early forest commissioner to say that the views there was as good as any in the Adirondacks, helping to create political will to include the Catskills in the New York State Forest Preserve.  The trailheads are located off of County Route 47 south of the town of Big Indian. Looking at a map, you will see that Routes 28 and 47 follow the rim of a large ring shaped valley that is thought to be evidence of a giant meteor strike 375 million years ago.

If you happen to be around on a Saturday, try to get to one of the live antique auctions that take place in the nearby towns. Roberts' Auction hosts live auctions in Arkville every Saturday at 6 p.m. and the McIntosh Auction Service down the road in Margaretville hosts a similarly lively affair at 6:30 p.m. most Saturdays. Check websites for weekly details.

Continue to Day 3


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(Updated 09/01/11 SS)

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