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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

Year-round mountains: Ski centers shine in all four seasons

Above: The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup at Windham Mountain, the only event of its kind in the U.S., draws pro athletes from around the globe. Photo by Karl Anshanslin, an honorable mention in the 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest.

One World Cup mountain biking competition featuring 7,000 riders from 35 countries. Three days of yoga. Car and motorcycle shows, skateboard races. Summer concerts starring Buddy Guy, Gretchen Wilson and the brothers Allman and Avett. A chance to taste more than 300 beers made by 70 New York state brewers, zoom above the trees on a zipline or take your kids geocaching.

Welcome to the Catskills ski region, where resorts whose main attractions involve the fluffy white stuff have increasingly morphed into four-season recreation centers with wildly diverse offerings — both indoors and out.

“You have this huge asset — you can’t just shut your doors and wait for it to snow again,” says Troy Ketcham, the sales and marketing director at Windham Mountain in Greene County. “Every mountain is really a year-round mountain.”

Mother Nature smiled upon the winter sports season in 2013-14, with early cold temperatures and bountiful snowfall. Fans of downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing had little to complain about as the snowpack endured into early April.  Read more

This Weekend: Celebrate National Trails Day

Above: The view from Cross Mountain on a brand-new section of the Long Path Trail, which opens to the public on Saturday, June 7. Photo courtesy of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference.

For 21 years, the first Saturday in June has been reserved for appreciating the nation’s mountain trails and greenery. This Saturday, June 7, Catskill area parks will observe the 22nd annual National Trails Day by hosting outdoor celebrations — welcoming residents and visitors to participate in hikes, runs and restoration projects, as well as the opening of several brand-new trails.

Below: Volunteers install a sign on the new Palmer Hill Trail in Andes. Photo by Ann Roberti.

Palmer Hill Trail opening, Andes, Delaware County  Read more

This weekend: Hunter hosts 10th annual Mountain Jam

Photo courtesy of Hunter Mountain.

The tenth annual Mountain Jam Music Festival, produced by Radio Woodstock WDST and hosted by Hunter Mountain, kicks off on Thursday, June 5 and continues through Sunday, June 8 featuring a line-up of 40 musical acts across three stages.

Jimmy Buff, program director at Radio Woodstock WDST, said booking acts for the Mountain Jam Music Festival is always a bit of a “juggling act.” It takes the perfect storm of luck, album releases and tour schedules to assemble the diverse line-up of new and old favorites.

“Sure, you’ve got your wish list every year,” Buff said. “But schedules have to match up with the dates. Work on this year’s Mountain Jam began when last year’s finished.”  Read more

Between meals: Catskills-style coffee breaks

Above: Phoenicia’s Mama’s Boy Market serves homemade baked goods and a selection of snacks from local purveyors.

Residents of the Catskills are often people who thrive on privacy and peace, but it’s also important that the commons contain ample opportunities to get off of the farm and out of the woods to socialize. Happily, we’re blessed with a fine selection of coffee shops and casual cafés that showcase coffee curation and offer sweet and savory snacks.

Bread Alone Bakery (breadalone.com, multiple locations) has been doing the bakery-café thing for decades, and has two Catskills shops: the main headquarters on Route 28 in Boiceville, and a satellite café in Woodstock. Flour milled to spec, locally sourced fresh dairy and wood-fired ovens are some of the ingredients in its well-loved recipes.  Read more

This weekend: Rails to the Catskills premiere

Engine number 49 on the New York Ontario and Western Railway, taken around 1872. Photo courtesy of the Cornell University Library.
See video

Forgotten history is what interests filmmaker Tobe Carey most. His latest film, the documentary Rails to the Catskills, is an attempt to encapsulate the history of the railroad lines that abounded in the Catskills area for much of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

"I had been asked for years to make a film about the railroads," Carey said. “Many people don’t have a sense of the vibrant railroad industry.”  

The 95-minute film, which will premiere on Sunday, June 1 at 4 p.m. at the Mountain Cinema, Doctorow Center for the Arts in Hunter, highlights the cultural and economic impact the railroads had on the area.

According to Carey, the film tells the story of the railroads in chronological order — beginning with its predecessor, the Delaware and Hudson Canal — and its original intent to “connect waterways.”  Read more

Scout's Honor: Earn Catskills Badges

This summer, channel your inner Eagle Scout in the Catskills: Earn one of our outdoor badges by hiking a fire tower or paddling a reservoir. (That’s right, “earn”: Our Catskills badges can’t be bought.)

The 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide is proud to present our 2014 Catskills Badge Program, which features two limited-edition embroidered badges: the brand-new Catskill Reservoir Paddler Badge and the popular Catskill Fire Towers Badge. They’re perfect for sewing onto a sash, a backpack or your favorite pair of Carhartts.

The badge program is simple: Boat a New York City reservoir or hike a fire tower in the Catskills, send us proof of your adventure (see details below), and you get your very own real-deal badge. You can’t buy these beauties in a store; you’ll have to earn them the old-fashioned way. So get out there and show us what you can do.  Read more

Severe thunderstorm watch issued for western Catskills

Above: The National Weather Service in Binghamton warns of an eastward-bound line of thunderstorms moving across the New York-Pennsylvania border.

A severe thunderstorm watch was issued Tuesday afternoon for central New York and the western Catskills region, including Delaware and Sullivan counties. The watch is in effect until 9 p.m.

Hudson Valley Weather writes that the storms in the forecast are the result of an incoming cold front that could send temperatures plunging for the next week or so. 

The Catskills region may be in for some fierce storms this evening, which could bring hail as well as rain. But the approaching thunderstorms aren't likely to top 2013's Memorial Day weekend weather, when snowstorms blanketed the highest peaks of the Catskills in white.

Celebrating the trout

The 25-foot-long Giant Brook Trout, a creation of local artist Bud Wertheim, is a regular at Livingston Manor’s annual Trout Parade. Photo by Tyler Young; courtesy of Manor Ink (manorink.com).

The Catskills region is renowned as the cradle of American dry fly-fishing. It’s the place where, in the 1800s, local anglers first began to alter English flies into shapes and patterns that mimic our own native insects.

Today, the fly-tier’s art thrives in the Catskills. Roscoe, known as “Trout Town, USA,” boasts several excellent fly-fishing shops and many local fishing guides. Phoenicia, where an important angling history collection was gutted by a 2011 fire at the local library, is now home to a digital trove of local fly-fishing lore, with a detailed hatch chart that tracks the dates of local hatches and the flies used to mimic them (catskillanglingcollection.org).

But in the Catskills, it’s not just fly-fishers who revere the trout. The native brook trout and stocked browns and rainbows that run through the cold, clear waters of the Catskills’ many creeks are part of the soul of the community — and when fishing season rolls around, everyone celebrates.  Read more

The girl within: The real story behind Harvey Fierstein's 'Casa Valentina'

Above: Larry Pine and Patrick Page in Harvey Fierstein's 'Casa Valentina.'

History has a way of revealing itself by accident. In the 1990s, antique-furniture dealer Robert Swope was browsing a flea market in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood when he stumbled upon a treasure trove—a collection of photographs taken in the ’50s and ’60s of men wearing women’s clothing, beaming beneath neatly coiffed wigs and dressed to Eisenhower-era perfection. This cache of snapshots turned out to be a visual record of life at Casa Susanna, a midcentury resort outside of Hunter, New York that catered to a very specific clientele: heterosexual male transvestites.  Read more