Rip's Ledge and the trails of Winter Clove

Above: Rip's Ledge. Photo by Alan Via.

Most people have never heard of Catskills trails with names like Venus' Bath, Countryman Kill Falls, Moonshine Ridge, Lover's Loop, Yankee Smith and Rip's Ledge.

All of them are seldom-hiked unofficial trails that begin on private land owned by the Winter Clove Inn, an old-style Catskills resort in the Greene County hamlet of Round Top. The resort welcomes day hikers to use its lands, provided that they ask permission at the front desk first.

Above: Winter Clove Inn. Photo by Alan Via. 

The Winter Clove Inn has been attracting visitors to this northern Catskills clove for 152 years. The resort got its start in 1863 as a farmhouse that took in urban folks looking for wilderness.

Five generations of innkeepers, all members of the Whitcomb family, turned the property into a stately hotel with a large porch lined with rocking chairs sitting on hundreds of acres of land. The resort also boasts its own waterfall.  Read more

This weekend: Hudson Valley Hullabaloo plus four other Catskills craft fairs

Above: The 2014 Hudson Valley Hullabaloo. Photo via the HV Hullabaloo's Facebook page

The holiday craft season is heating up. This weekend, 65 vendors will flock to the Hudson Valley Hullabaloo in Kingston, and more will appear at markets and bazaars in three other counties. Here's where to shop local for the holidays during the weekend of Nov. 21 and 22.


Fresh-baked pies, locally-raised meats, Catskills-made spirits and wines and much more will be for sale at the Greater Stamford Area Chamber of Commerce (GSACC) Holiday Pop-Up Farmers’ Market from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 21 in Stamford. The market has become an annual tradition, and over a dozen vendors will be there to provide a shopping bonanza just before Thanksgiving.   Read more

New book describes the "color, charm and lunacy" of the Catskills

Above: The Flager in South Fallsburg in the 1950s Catskills. Image from 1950s Unlimited via Flickr.

To the wider world, the Catskills mean just one thing: The Borscht Belt, with its famous Jewish resorts that inspired the movie “Dirty Dancing.”

But Grossinger’s, Kutsher’s and the Concord only take up about two-and-a-half chapters of “The Catskills: Its History and How it Changed America,” a new book released by Knopf on Oct. 27.

That surprised even its author, veteran entertainment journalist and writer Stephen Silverman.

Left: Stephen Silverman. Photo via the Catskill Mountain Foundation.

Telling the story of the Catskills required five years of research and 450 pages. It’s the longest book Silverman had ever written.

“This is 150,000 words,” Silverman said. “You’re talking to somebody who is used to writing 200 words for People Magazine.”

By heft alone, it’s a coffee-table book—a big, glossy hardcover brick stuffed with four centuries of Catskills lore.

It's lavishly illustrated and intended for a mainstream audience that is once again rediscovering the region. (As the book shows, the Catskills have been discovered and re-discovered roughly every 50 years since the 17th century.) 

There’s the well-known history, like the story of how Jennie Grossinger created a world-famous Jewish resort out of her family’s Sullivan County boardinghouse. There are quick biographical sketches of the lives of must-mention 19th-century celebrities Jay Gould and John Burroughs. And there’s a snappy account of how Washington Irving wrote the legend of Rip Van Winkle.

But the best parts mine a rich vein of more obscure Catskills stories.

Promenading tourists find a gangster stabbed to death and strapped to a slot machine floating in Sullivan County’s Swan Lake in 1937.

Father Divine, the charismatic leader of the integrated Universal Peace Mission Movement, brings thousands of followers Ulster County in the 1930s.

Mark Carr, an enterprising farmer, invents the idea of commercial Christmas tree sales in America.

At Casa Susanna, a 1950s retreat in Jewett, a small colony of cross-dressers learn how to apply makeup and walk properly in a pair of pumps. 

“Illegal liquor. Religious cults. Gangsters. Left-wing children being raised on communist work songs," Silverman said. "You had restricted hotels that had signs that read, “No dogs and no Jews,” and then you had Jews. Murders took place. Religious salvation took place. There was the bluestone mining and leather tanning. It was a lively place.”

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"Harvest of Songs" brings lessons about Catskills farms, food and water to NYC

Above: Story Laurie, the Andes storyteller and musician Laurie McIntosh, "sprouts like a seed" with Miss Mostert's kindergarten class in Delhi in 2013 as they write a song about germination. Photo courtesy of Harvest of Songs.

A set of songs written by Catskills and New York City schoolchildren about milking, picking pumpkins, farming and water are the heart of a new educational curriculum aimed at teachers throughout the city and its upstate watershed.

"Harvest of Songs," an educational project funded by local nonprofits Farm Catskills, the O'Connor Foundation and the Catskill Watershed Corporation, launched on Saturday, Oct. 24 with a potluck meal at the Hamden Inn in the Delaware County town of Hamden.

Laurie McIntosh, the artist behind the project, presented her work to the board of Farm Catskills.  Read more

This weekend: The holiday bazaar season begins

Above: Image by Allison McDonald via Flickr. 

If you’re living in or passing through the Catskills and plan to give gifts to loved ones this holiday season, you have absolutely zero excuse for wrapping up a six-pack of sweat socks. (Unless, of course, that’s your loved one’s dearest wish.)

Makers, crafters and artisans across the region are gearing up for two solid months of holiday bazaars showcasing locally-made gifts. The first craft shows are this weekend, Nov. 7 and 8. Here's where to find them. 


How to spend Halloween in the Catskills

Above: One of the many creepy scenes at Night Terrors Haunted Farm in Schoharie. 

Halloween is this Saturday, Oct. 31, and the Catskills are celebrating with costume bashes, trick-or-treat events, zombies, witches and more. Here’s our five county guide to the best spooky events of the weekend.


In Andes, the annual Harvest Moon Ball is a Halloween tradition featuring a potluck, costume-contest and kid-friendly dance party that takes over the back room of the Andes Hotel every year. Saturday, Oct. 31 at 7 p.m.

O’Neill’s Shire Pub in Delhi is hosting its Spook-Tacular Halloween Party on Saturday, Oct. 31, from 9 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. They’ll have DJ Pat hosting a costume contest with prizes for scariest, sexiest, best Couple, and funniest costumes.  Read more

Coders come to camp at Catskills tech conference

Above: Dennis Crowley, a founder of Foursquare, speaks at the Catskills Conf on Saturday, Oct. 24. Photo by Julia Reischel.

Luminaries in the tech world, including the founder of Foursquare and the managing director of Etsy, wore sweatshirts and flannel in the Catskills over the weekend to talk startups and coding while learning about blacksmithing, foraging, square dancing and butchery.

About 100 coders and techies, many from New York City, gathered around campfires and slept in bunkhouses during Catskills Conf, a new three-day conference held at the Ashokan Center in the Ulster County hamlet of Olivebridge on the weekend of Oct. 23 through 25.

The talks were aimed at a global tech community of makers and coders. Some were inspiring: Crowley, the Foursquare founder, talked candidly about failure--and how to survive it--during his talk on Saturday, Oct. 24.  Read more

See video

Big names shoot gay murder movie around Hudson Valley

Above: A Company 1 Production film crew setting up at a house in Saugerties on Monday, Oct. 19. Photo by Paula Ann Mitchell. 

A film starring 1980s-era icon Molly Ringwald is shooting at locations around the Hudson Valley this month.

While the film’s publicist isn’t releasing more details, the movie is almost certainly “King Cobra,” a lurid tale of the gruesome murder of a gay porn kingpin that is being produced by James Franco and stars Ringwald and Christian Slater.

Rumors about the film have been swirling around Saugerties, where a film crew is on location this week.

Slater reportedly arrived at the Kingston Ulster airport last week to film scenes for the movie, according to a photo posted on the Instagram account of film producer Jordan Yale Levine, who is working on the project:  Read more

Catskills Columbus Day

Michael Johnson took this shot of the brilliant colors on a Catskills mountainside on Sunday, Oct. 11 and shared it with the Watershed Post in a Facebook message.

Show us what your Catskills Columbus Day looks like--share your photos with us via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Flickr

Update: Man, what great photos you shared! Check them out: 


Reader photos of Columbus Day 2015 from around the Catskills.

Posted by Watershed Post on Monday, October 12, 2015


Arts and healthcare come together at the O+ Festival

Above: Collage of musicians playing this year's O+ Festival. Image from O+ website.

More then 60 musical acts, 25 artists, a kick-off parade, workshops and classes and a late-night literary salon come to Kingston this weekend during the O+ Festival (pronounced “oh-positive”), which was founded in 2010 to bring free healthcare to broke artists and anyone else who might need it.

With the slogan “Apply Pressure and Elevate,” this year’s three-day, weekend-long celebration begins on Friday, Oct. 9 and runs through Sunday, Oct. 11. The heart of the event is the wellness clinic, where doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers volunteer to give free healthcare to all comers.       

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