Horseback riding in the Catskills

Riders head out on the trail. Photo courtesy of Bridle Hill Farm.

Strapping on your hiking shoes isn’t the only way to see the Catskills: You can also hit the trail on horseback. Trail-riding companies operate throughout the region, and they offer an alternative way to enjoy the spectacular views and fresh mountain air that make the Catskills a paradise for hikers.

Novice and experienced riders alike should have a pre-ride safety check with the trail ride leader, says Laura Phoenix, a riding coach and equestrian specialist at Country Meadows Equine in Delaware County. Before embarking, beginning riders should be shown how make their mount turn left or right — and most importantly, how to stop.

As you ride, the group should set the pace at the comfort level of the most inexperienced rider, in order to ensure a successful ride for everyone in the group.

After horse and rider have gotten acquainted, it’s time to sit back and enjoy the views.

Spring is a great time to take a trail ride, Phoenix says.  Read more

This weekend: Taste of Country Festival returns to Hunter

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Above: A video of highlights from the 2013 Taste of Country Festival, which featured Lady Antebellum, Trace Adkins, Willie Nelson, Hunter Hayes, Billy Currington and more. Source: Taste of Country Festival's YouTube channel.

Ready your cowboy hats and Daisy Dukes for this weekend’s Taste of Country Music Festival, kicking off tonight at Hunter Mountain.

The four day, two-stage event is the only multi-day country music festival in the Northeast, offering country music lovers a star-studded line-up of performers, along with vendors, activities and food. Folks can take a break in between sets and check out some fireworks, frisbee and golf demos and even a live-action “Farmville 2” petting zoo. 

The lineup includes headlining crooners Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley, Brantley Gilbert and Hank Williams Jr. Also performing will be newcomers Chase Rice, Thomas Rhett and Jamie Lynn Spears (yes, Britney’s younger sister).  Read more

This weekend: Kingston Kayak Festival

Above: Kayaks lined up on Kingston Point Beach at the 2013 Kingston Kayak Festival. Photo from Kenco's Facebook page.

Kenco's Kingston Kayak Festival returns to the Kingston Point Beach on Saturday, June 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to offer opportunities for both seasoned and novice kayakers alike.

Kayakers will be able to learn new skills in beginner, intermediate and advanced lessons — on both land and water — that include instruction on kayak fishing.

Beginners will be provided with a kayak for a guided tour. Experienced kayakers are expected to bring their own.

Instructional offerings on how to pick the right paddle and kayak will also be available.

Food vendors, boating brands and exhibitors will be present, tabling products including used gear and boats.

Scheduled events will end with an auction of gear from 3 to 5 p.m.  Read more

Green Door closes

Green Door, a Liberty-based quarterly magazine about Catskills life and culture, is shutting down.

It's been a good run; in their three years and 13 issues, Green Door's founders have launched a multi-use art space on Liberty's Main Street, popularized the word "hickster," gotten a nod from the New York Times for their "Narrowsburg Not Williamsburg" T-shirts, and earned plenty of love from the local arts and business community. But, as the sage says, sometimes love just ain't enough.

Founders Ellie and Akira Ohiso announced the news on the magazine's website and Facebook page on Tuesday:  Read more

This Weekend: Livingston Manor's 11th Annual Trout Parade

Above: Jenny Lytton and Eric Hirsch, who were joined in "Holy Mackerel-mony" at the 2006 Trout Parade, marching together in fin-ished regalia. Photo by Tyler Young; courtesy of Manor Ink.

One fish, two fish, red fish, 25-foot-long giant segmented puppet fish.

All this and more can be found at the 11th Annual Trout Parade, Saturday, June 14 at 1 p.m., on Main Street in Livingston Manor.

The parade features the art and wit of local businesses who create trout-themed costumes, floats, puppets, signs and more. This year's o-fish-al theme is “steampunk,” offering up a science fiction twist to the community fixture. Folks can expect monocled and top-hatted fish and gears galore, among the cast of festival fare.

“Think Jules Verne on Mars, or Sherlock Holmes with a steam-powered robot sidekick,” reads the parade’s website  Read more

It's here: Get your copy of the 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide

On Memorial Day weekend, our 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide hit the streets! We went through about 2,000 copies in 24 hours, and are waiting on the rest of our 20,000 print run to be delivered this week. They're going like hotcakes. 

This year's edition of our print guide to outdoor recreation in the Catskills is our most comprehensive yet, and has some new bells and whistles, including a pull-out map of the Catskills and a list of 20 great Catskills hikes that you can fold up and take with you on your travels.

The magazine also covers professional guides, ice climbing, new Catskills trails, paddling, cycling, boating, tubing, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, outdoor weddings, Catskills steam-cleaners, and the ins and outs of paddling on the NYC DEP's reservoirs.   Read more

A few good Catskills paddles

Photo by Courtney Ross; submitted to the Watershed Post's 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest.

Water is everywhere in the Catskill Mountains, even their name: The “kill” in “Catskills” is a Dutch word for “creek.” There’s plenty of open water to go around for kayakers, canoers, sailors and rowers — especially now that four of New York City’s vast reservoirs have been opened to recreational boating, a development in the past few years. (See our guide to boating the reservoirs.)

Another aspect of the Catskills great outdoors that’s improving: our bald eagle population. If you spend time on our rivers and creeks, you’re likely to have a close encounter with one of these fish-eating eagles, who have been brought back from the verge of extirpation over the past few decades and are now a common sight near Catskills waterways.

Catskills creeks have a tendency to be broad and shallow, and water levels can vary a lot depending on recent rainfall and reservoir releases. When preparing to go boating on running water, check out the water level, or ask a local boat rental company, to make sure there’s enough water to keep you from running aground.  Read more

U-pick while you can: Strawberry fields not forever

Squeezed between the end of spring and the beginning of summer, strawberry season in the Catskills emerges for a brief but illustrious period.

For most farms, the season begins in June and lasts about four weeks, sometimes stretching into the first week of July. In the higher elevations, the season tends to run later. This year's cooler spring could also make for a later strawberry season, according to farmer Jim Story of Catskill's Story Farms.

Listed below are farms around the Catskills region that will be open this summer for U-pick strawberries and other seasonal fruits, including raspberries and blackberries.

DELAWARE COUNTY

Greenane Farms
196 County Route 10, Meridale
607.746.8878
Open for U-Pick between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
Strawberries available late June through July; blackberries and raspberries available July through October.

GREENE COUNTY  Read more

New Catskills hotels aim for a design-savvy crowd

Above: A room at the Arnold House. Photo courtesy of the Arnold House. 

For over a century, urbanites have found refuge in the Catskills. But the heyday of the grand Victorian mountain hotels is over, and the era of Borscht Belt resort kitsch is passing away. These days, our downstate neighbors are looking for something a bit more off the beaten path in their country getaways.

A new breed of hotel is cropping up in the hills: small, laid-back escapes that cater to a design-conscious clientele. Emboldened by the success of the Graham & Co., a former Phoenicia roadhouse that re-opened as a chic motel last year, several new hotels have seized on the concept of the Catskills as a hipster's alternative to the Hamptons -- a drum New York Magazine has been beating for nearly a decade.  Read more

Yulan man arrested in connection with May 23 shooting

A man who was wounded in a Sullivan County shooting on May 23 was arrested Wednesday on gun and drug charges, after he was discharged from Westchester Medical Center.

Arrested on Wednesday, June 4 was 33-year-old William Sullivan of Yulan. Sullivan has been charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree and criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree. Both are felonies.

Another man who was also wounded in the shooting remains in the hospital in critical condition, police say.

Shortly before midnight on Friday, May 23, state troopers and town of Highland police responded to a report of gunshots fired at a residence on Airport Road in the town of Highland in Sullivan County. They found two men suffering from gunshot wounds. Police say the two men had been in an argument before the shooting.  Read more