Longtime Catskills wilderness guide Charles “Sonny” Somelofski has earned a few more gray hairs since this photo was taken — and caught countless more fish. Photo courtesy of
Catskill Outdoor Adventures (catskilloutdooradventures.com).
Charles “Sonny” Somelofski of Catskill Outdoor Adventures in Margaretville (catskilloutdooradventures.com), remembers when the licensing process to become an outdoor guide in New York state was a simple paper questionnaire with a $2 fee that asked whether he could swim, handle a boat, and read a map and compass.
“That was it, back then,” Somelofski says. “Bang! I was able to take people out and do it all.”
Today, being a state-licensed outdoor guide requires a bit more: taxable income disclosure forms, a physician’s statement, and certifications in first aid, CPR, and water safety. Those are the just the basics. Guides can be licensed in a number of different categories, ranging from camping and fishing to whitewater rafting and ice climbing, each with different licensing requirements.
The heart of guiding, however, has remained the same: proving to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) that you can reliably take paying customers out into the great outdoors and bring them back again in one piece. Read more
Main Street/Route 52 in Jeffersonville at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 2. Photo by Tiffany Karen Denier.
Heavy rains and thunderstorms on Wednesday afternoon caused major flash flooding in the Sullivan County village of Jeffersonville, and widespread power outages across the region.
The flooding in Jeffersonville was intense enough to bring swift-water rescue teams to the village. Eyewitnesses in Jeffersonville reported about two feet of water on Main Street, and deeper water in some areas.
Above: Main Street/Route 52 in Jeffersonville at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 2. Photo by Tiffany Karen Denier.
Above: Main Street/Route 52 in Jeffersonville at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 2. Photo by Tiffany Karen Denier. Read more
A cyclist takes a break for the panoramic view from Castle Point on the Shawangunk Ridge, at the southeastern edge of the Catskills. Photo courtesy of Riding the Catskills (ridingthecatskills.com).
Climb up and over the rocky Shawangunk Ridge to a spectacular vista overlooking the Hudson Valley. Meander along hundreds of miles of carriage lanes and trails through the Mohonk Preserve. Ride through rolling pastureland on 19th- century dirt roads, lined by mossy stone walls and shaded by tunnels of overarching trees. Travel winding country roads for hours without seeing more cars than you can count on your fingers.
The Catskill Mountains were made for cycling. And if you’re not here already, they’re easier to get to than you might think. From New York City, in less than two hours by car, you can leave urban sprawl far behind and discover a cycling utopia. You don’t even need a car to get here: Bring your bike on a scenic 90-minute Metro-North train up the majestic Hudson River to Poughkeepsie, cycle across the Walkway Over the Hudson, and you’re practically in the Catskills. Read more
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
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
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.
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.
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