Catskill Mountains is a land of crystal-clear splashing brooks,
primitive wilderness, balsam fragrant mountains; sweet air freshened
by high hills and the vastness of space. There are quaint towns
and villages, fine accommodations, great food, and plenty of opportunities
for hiking, fishing, skiing, shopping; or just relax under the shade
of a tree on a summer's day.
Native Americans lived in awe of these mountains and believed their
Gods lived here, behind the "Great Wall of Manitou," the breathtaking
wall of stone that marks the Catskill's eastern boundary, rising
dramatically from the floor of the Hudson River Valley.
Thomas Cole created America's first
school of painting in the 19th century by recording this dramatic
landscape of high peaks, deep cloves, and breathtaking views. James
Fenimore Cooper and John Burroughs captured their beauty in novels
and essays 100 years ago. That beauty is intact, today.
And in 1894 New York State's Constitution
was amended to create the Catskill Forest Preserve, 300,000 acres
of land that "shall be forever wild." Cared for by the Department
of Environmental Conservation, there are miles of hiking and walking
trails, fishing streams, lakes and ponds, and unspoiled woodlands.
few suggestions on how to enjoy the Catskills and the great
Information on hiking, fishing and
places to just get out into nature.
The Catskills Forest
Preserve & Park are protected and managed by the DEC. Made up of
a unique conglomeration of private and public lands, there are Wilderness
Areas & Wild Forest Areas. The Wilderness areas all contain at least
10,000 acres of uninterrupted and unspoiled forest and mountainside.
Foot travel is the only way to traverse the Wilderness; all motorized
and wheeled (bicycles) vehicles are prohibited. Even the DEC must
walk. The Wild Forests are designed to provide a higher degree of
human recreation; they resemble parks. Mountain bikes and snowmobiles
are allowed in these areas. There are usually more people here;
they are less remote than the Wilderness.
Both the Wilderness and Wild Forests
provide beautiful natural environments, close to civilization but
far enough away so you can clear your head, forget your day to day
pressures and leave these mountains refreshed and rejuvenated.
Current day residents are content to
let the rest of the world think these mountains are filled with
the old time stereotypical hotels because we know that what's really
here is unparalleled natural beauty. There are charming Beds & Breakfasts,
Country Inns, small motels and even a spa or two. Many refugees
of our overcrowded cities have migrated here, bringing their city-bred
talents and expertise with them. Good food abounds.
Small villages and towns, places like
Phoenicia, Hunter, Windham, Lexington and Olive, are home to shops
offering charming gifts, local crafts, specialty foods. There are
galleries and unusual museums. In the summertime, farmstands, craft
fairs, flea markets abound. And there are under-the-stars concerts,
too. We are the guardians of a well-kept secret.
Time, in many ways, has passed the Catskills
by, just as it did for one of our more famous characters, Rip
Van Winkle. The English Crown's land patent system, The French-Indian
War, The American Revolution, combined with the vagaries of mountain
weather and our rugged terrain conspired to keep the Catskills isolated
and to make early settlement difficult. Civilization reached here
100 years later than it did the rest of the Northeast, so that today
we are reaping the benefits and have what so many other communities
long for: open spaces, fresh, untainted air, clear waters, little
traffic, and quiet, quiet that lets you hear the birdsong.
Come during any season, these mountains offer
sweet summers, brilliant fall colors, winter white snows and glorious
Washington Irving wrote, "I shall
never forget my first view of these mountains. It was in the course
of a voyage up the Hudson…before steamboats and railroads had driven
all poetry and romance out of travel. We were all day (on the sloop)
slowly tiding along. Of all the scenery of the Hudson, the Kaatskill
Mountains had the most witching effect on my boyish imagination.
Never shall I forget the effect upon me of the first view of them
predominating over a wide extent of the country, part wild, woody,
and rugged; part softened away into all the graces of cultivation.
As we slowly floated along, I lay on the deck and watched them through
a long summer's day; undergoing a thousand mutations under the magical
effects of atmosphere; sometimes seeming to approach, at other times
to recede; sometimes melting into hazy distance, now burnished by
the setting sun, until in the evening they printed themselves against
the glowing sky in the deep purple of an Italian landscape."
A few links
for you to follow to find out more about the Catskills on HV/Net:
is not meant as completely accurate representation of
the terrain, roads and trails. HV/Net suggests that
before you visit you first obtain an accurate map of
the area. They are available in many locations throughout