Getting Cozy in the Catskills
|SUCH GREAT HEIGHTS: Kaaterskill Falls, the highest cascading waterfall in the state (courtesy, Green County Department)|
Steeped in history as enchanting as the tale of Rip Van Winkle, Greene County is as well preserved as the man himself was after his 20-year slumber. There are museums, antique treasures, and bona fide historians in every town who know the ironic truth about Washington Irving's legendary character. Perhaps Rip didn't sleep through a revolutionary war on the grassy Catskills' hillside after a few too many pints of bowler's brew, but the moral of the storythat change is built upon the principles of the oldhas served as Greene County's central foundation.
Summertime festivals celebrate Greene's early and contemporary influences, flooding banjo-thumping bluegrass and Irish music through the parks, farms, and streets. Art galleries showcase the work of fine local painters and sculptors.
The county's towns and villages are a feast for the eyes and ears, but when you and your mate are ready for some action, Greene doesn't disappoint. Thousands of forested and open acres laced with skiing, hiking, and biking trails surge to the upper reaches of the mountain peaks. Tidal preserves and estuaries harbor birds, rabbits, grouse, and bear.
And then there's nearby Hunter and Windham ski resorts. When the snow falls, the resorts boast a collective 3,200 vertical feet, while the summer months see lift-accessed downhill mountain biking, roller coaster singletrack, and some of the region's best hiking.
*The coveted Catskill Suite is the gem of the Catskill Lodge (518.261.7150), a bed and breakfast built in 1893. Two bedrooms, a Jacuzzi bath, and a spacious cupola off the master take up the entire third floor. An elaborate breakfast with coffee will get you and your partner buzzing for the day.
*It doesn't get warmer or fuzzier than Hull-o Farms (518.239.6950), where baby chicks, calves, and kidsthe talking kindroam the farm. Guests can take part, feeding goats, milking cows, and getting lost in a manmade cornfield maze. Whether you choose to pitch in or observe the cultivating over a scrambled egg breakfast (the freshest eggs you'll ever taste), the Hulls will put you up in one of three fully furnished guest houses. Pretend your Eva Gabor and Eddie Albert from Green Acresjust remember to keep the curtains closed.
* Sometimes, the best hotels are the ones that remind you of home. Cuomo's Cove (800.734.5903) offers cozy, comfortable rooms with exposed brick, updated kitchens, and bubbling Jacuzzi tubs just luxurious enough to confirm you're on vacation. Secluded in its mountain setting, yet close to wine tours, natural springs, and ski trails, Cuomo's is the best blend of Old World service and modern amenities.
* Intimate place settings and woodsy décor set the dinner scene at Bavarian Manor Restaurant (518.622.3261) where award-winning cuisine has a German flair. The Rouladen, delicate sliced steak brushed with mustard and filled with bacon, pickles, carrots, and onions, is served alongside buttered spaetzle and red cabbage. Köstlich!
* Bell's Café (518.943.4070) does eggs every wayscrambled in a heavenly jumble of avocado, chicken, and mushrooms; poached with hollandaise; whisked with tomato and pesto in a Mediterranean omelet; the list goes on. For the cholesterol-conscious, there's a lovely Nicoise salad with ahi tuna and green beans.
*Bear Creek Landing Restaurant (518.263.3839) serves up downright hearty lunch fare, from St. Louis-style spare ribs to slow-smoked brisket sandwiches slathered in BBQ sauce. Have a drink together at the bar or book a table in Bear Creek's dining room, which faces glorious Hunter Mountain.
Work it Off:
*Get ready to hit the mountain bike trails at Hunter Mountain (800.HUNTERMTN), where downhill routes and singletracks twist across 200 acres of varied terrain. Perfect your technique in the new skills parkscaled-down features and expert staff will help you prep for the real deal. Come winter, the resort boasts 58 runs across 240 acres.
* Two-tiered Kaaterskill Falls is the highest cascade in New York, tumbling over 260 feet of rocky cliff face. Somewhat steep at first, the yellow-blazed trail off Route 23A eventually levels, winding along a rolling stream. The mile-long trek is a bit of a challenge for new hikers; views from the more accessible Kaaterskill High Peak approach are just as divine.
* Ride off into the sunset like Roy Rogers and Dale Evans at K & K Equestrian Center (518.966.4829), owned and operated by the Phillips family for more than 30 years. Guides lead guests down scenic trails on horses so gentle, even beginners will be trotting through the woods by midday.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication