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If you sit quietly and
listen, you too can hear the sounds of the balls smashing
against the pins that frightened Rip Van Winkle as
he explored this quiet and remote cove in the Catskills.
Kaaterskill Falls formed the backdrop of Washington
Irving's tale about the somnambulant country prevaricator,
filled with trolls, gnomes and magical beasts.
As you scramble over gnarled
roots and round boulders on the 1.5 mile trail out
to the falls, you too may find yourself surrounded
by magical beasties and delightful woods. Well, the
woods at least. The trail out to the falls, starting
at a curve on Route 23 west of Palenville, is a fairly
easy scramble, is well maintained and well marked.
It is not for the faint of heart or physically challenged,
but then again, isn't really strenuous or a major
challenge. Just a lot of ups and downs and ankle twisting
But the trek is well worth
the little effort. The trail follows the Kaaterskill
Creek as it ascends slowly up the cove. You are surrounded
by dense and mossy woods, cool breezes and dappled
sunlight. Ferns sway beneath the great hemlocks and
spruces while the oak and maple leaves flutter and
sparkle overhead. If you tire you can dangle your
feet in the creek or lay atop one of the many table
rocks stretching out over the creek and catch a quick
At the end of your walk
is the highest falls in New York State, descending
in two steps down into the cove. Bring something to
get wet in and relax under the cascade, or clamber
up to the middle shelf and swim in the brisk pool.
The sun will warm you and the quiet woodland breezes
will surround you. Bring a picnic and sit atop the
rocks and take it all in. Just be careful you don't
fall asleep or you, like friend Rip, may not emerge
again for 100 years.