Five kid-friendly Catskills hikes

Above: Kids hiking in the Catskills. Photo by Tim Luby.

While the Catskills have a reputation for rugged, steep terrain, the region also offers plenty of short, exciting jaunts with amazing views that kids can scale.

1. VROMAN’S NOSE. 1.5 miles round trip. A mostly gentle climb, with some steep sections, that leads to sweeping views of surrounding farmland. The large, flat summit is known as “The Dance Floor.” Park on Mill Valley Road in Middleburgh.

2. TROUT POND. 3 miles round trip. A pleasant walk on an old woods road up to a scenic lake. A side trail on the way overlooks a waterfall. Great fishing and camping opportunities. Park on Russell Brook Road near Roscoe.

3. FRICK POND. 2.2 miles round trip. A level hike through forests, swamps and meadows along the shoreline of Frick Pond. Can be muddy. Park on Beech Mountain Road, Livingston Manor.

4. TANBARK TRAIL. 2 miles round trip. A climb up to impressive views of Phoenicia, the Esopus Creek and surrounding high peaks. Trailhead at Parish Field, Phoenicia.  Read more

Follow that rainbow

The spotty rainstorms we had yesterday paid off for Watershed Post reader Robin Williams, who spotted an enormous rainbow while driving on Route 28 through the Delaware County town of Meredith at 6:25 p.m on Monday, August 3. Thanks for sharing, Robin! 

Woodstock Writers Radio with Martha Frankel and guests

Downstream leak stopped, emergency releases halted at the Cannonsville Dam

Above: A stream of cloudy water, center, flowed from a rock embankment downstream of the Cannonsville Dam for several weeks. Photo via the NYC DEP

A disturbing gush of cloudy water below the Cannonsville Dam was stopped on Saturday, August 1, and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection dialed down the emergency cold-water releases gushing from the Cannonsville Reservoir into the West Branch of the Delaware River on Sunday, August 2.

Fears that the dam was compromised arose on July 8, when a mysterious turbid discharge appeared below the dam, prompting the DEP to draw down the reservoir and warm communities downstream.

On July 23, tests confirmed that the sediment leaking into the river downstream of the dam wasn't coming from the earthen dam itself.  Read more

The hike up Overlook Mountain: Ruins and spectacular views

Above: The view from the top of the Overlook Mountain fire tower, looking down. Photos by Alan Via.

Overlook Mountain, located just outside of the Ulster County town of Woodstock, is a magnet for hikers of all ages, abilities, and interests. The five-mile round-trip hike begins on the Meads Road trailhead and follows a trail up 1,400 feet to the summit, where ruins and a fire tower with spectacular views await.

Above: The view from Overlook Mountain.

The much-loved hike is an attraction for families, photographers, birders and dog owners. (Because you may get a rare glimpse of a timber rattlesnake, it's a good idea to keep your dog on a leash.)

On any morning of the week, locals use the Overlook trail in place of a morning visit to the gym. Weekenders, people on vacation and anyone else out to enjoy the cool ambience of Woodstock may find themselves hiking to enjoy the gorgeous summit views.  Read more

Blueberry and raspberry picking in the Catskills

Above: Picking blueberries at Blue Sky Farm & Winery in Stamford. Photo by Jane Margolies.

Strawberry season has come and gone, but not to worry if you didn’t get your fill of luscious, locally grown berries. Blueberry season is upon us, and, thanks to the late spring rains, growers at U-Pick farms around the Catskills are reporting bumper crops of berries that are bigger and plumper than usual. Raspberries are also ripe for the picking at some farms. So grab a pail and get out your pie and cobbler recipes—and stay tuned for more updates on U-Pick offerings throughout the summer and fall.

DELAWARE COUNTY

Blue Sky Farm & Winery
779 Charcoal Road, Stamford
607-652-4712; blueskyfarmwinery.com

Blue Sky Farm & Winery had its first U-Pick day July 18, and owner Russ Betz says he’ll have blueberries for the next three or four weekends (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.). The berries are $3 per pound—and you can pick up a bottle of blueberry wine while you’re at it.  Read more

Hobart Book Village hosts jazz weekend; mulls festival

Above: Victor Mullen and John Mahoney install the art for their Jazz Soiree exhibit weekend at Liberty Rock Books. Photo via the Hobart Book Village Facebook page.

The Hobart Book Village will hold a Jazz Soiree and Sale from Friday, July 31 to Sunday, August 2, featuring live jazz music, jazz workshops, a free screening of Ken Burns' film "Jazz" and the sale of a private collection of over 2,000 Jazz LP and 400 plus CD's. All events are free, and all are welcomed.   Read more

This Weekend: Our guide to the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice

Above: Sila, an Inuit throat singing duo, will perform at the festival on Aug. 1. Photo via the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice website. 

Over the past few summers, the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice has traveled (musically, at least) all over the world. 2013’s fest focused on Italy and Germany with works by Verdi and Wagner, and last year’s covered the music of Spain. But this year the annual event, now in its sixth year, is bringing it all back home with a program devoted to American melodic traditions. And luckily, we’ve got a lot of ’em.  Read more

The Catskills comes to Queens

Above: Joseph DiStefano (left) and Chef David Noeth of NY Epicurean Events at M. Wells Steakhouse, Long Island City, Queens. Photo by Stanford Chiou.

Catskills-made cider, craft beers, cheeses and meats are coming to the Flushing Town Hall in Queens this Saturday at a new tasting event that aims to bring mountain foodies and city dwellers together.

The Catskills Comes to Queens” is the brainchild of David Noeth, a Catskills-born chef who has logged time at The Four Seasons and the Waldorf Astoria in New York City and at the Catskill Mountain Lodge in Palenville, and Joseph DiStefano, a Queens-based food writer for the New York Times, Gourmet and his own website, Chopsticks and Marrow

The two have founded a new business, New York Epicurean Events, which is based in the Delaware County hamlet of Delancey, Noeth's hometown. The Queens event is the first of many farm-to-table festivals the pair plan to produce with the goal of boosting “culinary and agricultural and culinary tourism in the Catskill-Delaware New York City watershed.”   Read more

Phoenicia Voice Festival grows “five times bigger” for its sixth season

Above: Maria Todaro, center, at a choir rehearsal for the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice, which opens today. Photo by Paula Ann Mitchell.

It takes luck, miracles and a hero or two to make a music festival happen. That’s how Maria Todaro sees the sequence of events leading up to the annual Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice, which begins today, Wednesday, July 29.

In mid-July, the festival’s 28-piece orchestra suddenly lost its rehearsal space in New York City, and Todaro was frantic. She rallied the support of festival patron and fellow musician Mark Holland, who happened to call her about getting tickets.

“I said, ‘Can I ask you a favor? Can you go look at some rooms for me?’ He went to visit 20 churches in the city,” Todaro said. “He called me at midnight and said he found the Riverside Church. That was incredible. Every day, there’s a miracle like that.”

Todaro, the festival co-founder and executive director, is exhaling this week now that some of the last-minute problems of finding housing for 69 of the 132 guests artists and tapping the generosity of local restaurants and volunteers to feed them have been solved.

There have been other last-minute strokes of luck.  Read more

Delaware County Fair won't ban Confederate flags

Above: A tractor decorated with an American flag and a Confederate flag in Delaware County. Photo by Julia Reischel.

The New York State Fair has banned sales of merchandise bearing the Confederate battle flag, but the Delaware County Fair will not follow suit. 

The flag, the best-known symbol of the southern rebellion in the U.S. Civil War, became more divisive than at any time since the end of that war after nine African-American people were killed at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. on June 17.

The man charged with the crimes, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, was pictured on a website posing with the flag and other emblems associated with white supremacy. The ensuing controversy led to the removal of the flag from the South Carolina Statehouse on July 10. Many national retailers, including Wal-Mart and Sears, have stopped selling the flag. 

Above: The board of directors of the Delaware Valley Agricultural Society at the July 27 meeting. The board is wrapping up plans for the upcoming Delaware County Fair. A ban of Confederate flag merchandise is not part of those plans. Photo by Robert Cairns.

Last month, the New York State Fair announced that the Confederate battle flag would not be welcome at its fairgrounds.

Spokesman Dave Bullard issued a statement:

"The Great New York State Fair is a proud symbol of the heritage, diversity, and great promise of New York State. Our state and our Fair represent inclusion and respect for all. The Fair requests vendors to refrain from selling or displaying items that may offend or in cases of public health and safety. Our vendors have always complied with these requests. The Fair is aware of two vendors who have sold Confederate merchandise in the past. They have agreed not to sell such merchandise at the State Fair."

The Delaware Valley Agricultural Society is the governing body of the Delaware County Fair, which runs from August 17 to August 22 in the town of Walton.

Noting the state fair’s ban, Leslie Kauffman, a 4-H club leader and a co-superintendent of the rabbit barn at the Delaware County Fair, contacted Ed Rossley, the president of the society's board of directors, to request a similar ban.

Rossley brought the issue to a Monday, July 27 meeting of the board of directors, reading an email message from Kauffman.

“She wants to know what you think about Confederate flags at the fair,” he said.

“The more of them, the better,” replied Director Norm Kilpatrick.

  Read more

NYC woman found with 499 bags of heroin during Hancock traffic stop, police say

Above: Close to 500 bags of heroin were found in a car headed from the Bronx to the Delaware County village of Sidney on July 25, police say. Photo via the Delaware County Sheriff's Office.

A woman driving from the Bronx to the Delaware County village of Sidney was found with 499 bags of heroin when she was pulled over for a traffic violation on Saturday, July 25, police say.

Left: Sonia Ramirez. Photo via the Delaware County Sheriff's Office.  

Fifty-three-year-old Sonia Ramirez of Ottawa, Illinois and New York City was pulled over for speeding on Route 17 in the village of Hancock at 12:30 a.m. on Saturday, according to a press release from the Delaware County Sheriff's Office.

While talking to Ramirez, Sheriff's Deputy Kyle Karcher allegedly smelled marijuana in her car. When he ran her driver's license, he found that it had been suspended.

Karcher arrested Ramirez for speeding and for operating a vehicle with a suspended license.

Then sheriff's deputies and Ozzie, a drug-sniffing police dog, searched Ramirez's belongings.  Read more

The Cannonsville Dam isn't leaking, DEP finds

Above: A rendering of the drilling incident that caused muddy discharge at the base of the Cannonsville Dam, according to the NYC DEP. Source: NYC DEP.

The Cannonsville Dam isn’t leaking, an investigation by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection has found.

After a mysterious muddy discharge appeared below the dam on July 8, fears that the dam was compromised prompted the DEP to draw down the reservoir and warm communities downstream

Now the DEP knows that the sediment leaking into the West Branch of the Delaware River downstream of the dam isn’t coming from the earthen dam itself, DEP spokesman Adam Bosch said on Friday, July 24.

Instead, the sediment is coming from a silt layer in a rock embankment about 50 yards away downstream where contractors were drilling on July 8, Bosch said.   Read more

Delhi bridge repairs cause worries, business losses

Above: Contractors work on the rehabilitation of Delhi's Kingston Street bridges. The bridges carry Route 28 over the West Branch of the Delaware River. Photo by Robert Cairns.

The mayor of the Delaware County village of Delhi says that work on the main river crossing through the village is behind schedule, but a New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) official disagrees. Meanwhile, a Delhi flower shop on the island between the bridges under repair is struggling as construction limits access to her store.

The Kingston Street bridges, a matching pair of steel spans, carry Route 28 over the West Branch of the Delaware River into the village center from the south. Since mid-May, traffic has been limited to one lane as DOT contractors carry out a long-delayed construction project.

Mayor Richard Maxey, at the Monday, July 20 meeting of the Dehil Village Board of Trustees, said that work on the bridges is behind schedule by “at least two months, I would think.”

He said that contractors found more deterioration in the structural steel than expected and had to make unexpected repairs.  Read more

Dahlia's Delights sandwich stand in the national radio spotlight

Above: Dahlia's Delights. Photo by Jason Dole/WJFF.

If you're a regular at Dahlia's Delights, a White Sulphur Springs ice-cream-and-sandwich stand, you may hear yourself on National Public Radio this weekend.

NPR's Weekend Edition is profiling snack stands across the country, and is working with local Catskills station WJFF 90.5 FM in Jeffersonville to produce a radio story about Dahlia's, which serves a surprisingly extensive array of gourmet paninis made with ingredients grown in an on-site garden.

Dahlia's Delights opened in 2013, and is now entering its third season in a walk-up window on Route 52 in Sullivan County.  Read more

Delaware County adds dedicated drunk-driving prosecutor

Above: A police officer making a drunk driving arrest. Photo by Flickr user Jeffrey Smith.

Delaware County will have a full-time prosecutor for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) cases following action of the county's board of supervisors on Wednesday, July 22.

The board adopted a resolution creating a new position in the couny district attorney's office.

The resolution states that the county “recognizes that effective and efficient prosecution of DWI offenses in the local criminal courts is needed, but is time consuming and requires specialized training and experience.” It notes that the current assistant district attorneys “have extensive caseloads relating to non-DWI offenses” and says a full-time DWI prosecutor “is necessary.”  Read more

Pedal mettle: Mountain biking and road cycling in the Catskills

Above: A mountain biker races in Hurley in 2013. Photo by Tim Kleeger of Fats in the Cats.

The Catskill Mountains were made for road cycling and mountain biking, with miles of paved, lightly trafficked roads and rugged mountain trails. For those who love to shred shale, the region is a mountain biker’s paradise.

The FATS IN THE CATS BICYCLE CLUB (fatsinthecats.com) has over 150 members and has been around since 1994, with rides for bikers of all abilities, including a weekly “newbie” rider group.  Read more

ATV riders find body in Mountaindale

Above: Post Hill Road, center, runs through a wooded section of the hamlet of Mountaindale. Image via Google Maps.

People riding ATVs on Post Hill Road in the Sullivan County hamlet of Mountaindale discovered the remains of a human body on Friday, July 17, according to the Times Herald-Record

The remains of the body ... were so badly decomposed, all that was left was bones, according to Town of Fallsburg Supervisor Steve Vegliante. The sex of the remains was unknown, he said he was also told.

Authorities are refusing to say much about the discovery while they investigate, the paper reports.  

This weekend: The Catskills Forest Festival

Above: A rough beginning of a wood sculpture of a bear made by Samsonville wood artist Hoppy Quick. Quick will be at the Catskill Forest Festival this weekend. Photo via Hoppy Quick's Facebook page

Woodchips will fly in Margaretville's village park on Saturday during the Catskill Forest Festival, an annual showcase of forestry and woodsmen skills and products.

This year, the organizers at the Catskill Forest Association promise that lumberjacks will compete to show off their cutting skills, a sawmill will turn logs into usable boards and craftsmen will turn trees into sculptures. (Ulster County artisan Hoppy Quick is planning to create a few bear sculptures on the spot during the festival -- see his photos above.)   Read more

BBQ in the Catskills

Above: Brisket, pulled pork, chicken and ribs at Catskill Mtn. BBQ in Grand Gorge. Photo by Julia Reischel.

Barbecue fans will drive long distances for their fix of smoked pork belly and brisket. Here’s where to get barbecue in the Catskills. 

The Tannersville version of AMERICAN GLORY BBQ (6033 Main St., Tannersville. 518-822-1234. americanglory.com) opened in August 2014, serving North Carolina-style pulled pork, brisket (chopped or sliced Texas style) and St. Louis-style ribs, all smoked over maple wood for hours.

Above: Ribs at American Glory BBQ in Tannersville. Photo courtesy of American Glory BBQ.   Read more

Lexington hosts first-ever broadband pep rally

Above: Adam Cross, left, the code enforcement officer for the town of Lexington, and Kim Do, a part-time Lexington resident who helped compose the "Broadband Anthem," at the Broadband Pep Rally on July 18. Photo by Julia Reischel.

A boisterous crowd of between 150 and 200 people gathered under a pavilion in the Greene County town of Lexington on Saturday, July 18 to demand broadband high-speed internet service in their remote Catskills town of 805 people, where even old-fashioned landline telephone service is spotty and cell phone service is nonexistent.

The rally, which was organized by resident Bonnie Blader, aimed to convince Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration to fund half of a $3 million project to lay 76 miles of fiber optic cable to 90 percent of the town’s residents.

To set the mood, group of singers in cowboy hats performed a “Broadband Anthem” set to the tune of the “Rawhide” theme song.  Read more