Smoking and Staggering Up Balsam Mountain

“You don’t have spikes?” The middle-aged man had planted himself in the center of the trail, hands clenched around his hiking poles at stomach level like he was really excited to be asking Morgan this. “Nah…” Morgan was not wearing spikes, the hiking boot attachment that gives one traction in the snow, and in fact…

Here’s How Climate Change Could Affect the Hudson Valley

Temperatures are expected to rise in the Hudson Valley and Catskills more drastically than most of the U.S. due to climate change, with the region seeing temperatures four-to-five degrees higher by 2050 when compared to the late 20th century. These predictions come from the Fourth National Climate Assessment, a voluminous report produced by the National…

Dodging Trespassing Signs to Poet’s Ledge

The trailhead to Poet’s Ledge is easier to find than you might think — just follow the highest concentration of barriers unfriendly residents have erected to make it hard to find. My friend Megan (of Nerding Out at the New York Ren Faire fame) and I drove up Route 23A in Greene County to Palenville…

‘New York’s Mount Rushmore’ in the Catskills

Prattsville, a small town straddling the Schoharie Creek in northwestern Greene County, is home to Pratt’s Rock, a site once called “New York’s Mount Rushmore” by Ripley’s Believe It or Not. It was here the town’s founder and namesake, Zadock Pratt, employed a series of itinerant stonemasons to carve his life story in a cliff…

Environmental Groups Attack Proposal to Separate Hudson River from Atlantic

Six proposals are on the table to protect New York City and its surroundings from catastrophic flooding, including two plans to separate the city’s harbor — and therefore the Hudson River — from the Atlantic Ocean with a combination of seawalls and gated storm surge barriers. Hudson River environmental groups have attacked these two plans,…

Climbing Blackhead and Black Dome in the Catskills

Scaling Blackhead Mountain and Black Dome Mountain not only allowed me to cross the third and fourth highest peaks in the Catskills off my list, it marked one of the few hikes in recent memory where I did not get lost. I set off early one weekday morning with my friend Ellen, who is making…

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North Point: The Catskills in the Quiet Months

The North-South Lake area in the eastern Catskills is packed with gawkers in the summer months. The road leading to Kaaterskill Falls, the jewel of the area (and by ‘jewel,’ I mean ‘most easily accessible’) is crammed with pedestrians giving motorists heart attacks as they wander along the twisting mountain lane from their cars to…

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Abandoned Zoo in the Catskills

A clump of dried weed crushed under my foot as I stepped onto the split pavement of the Catskill Game Farm’s deserted parking lot. As soon as the door clicked closed, I heard a series of conversational meows, and a cat the size of a baby panther trotted towards me from the thicket he had…

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America’s Longest Zipline at Hunter Mountain

New York Zipline Adventure Tours at Hunter Mountain is billed as the longest, highest, (but not necessarily fastest) zipline in North America. The fastest zipline in North America is located somewhere in Canada, according to the tour’s instructors, but two out of three superlatives is extreme enough for a good adventure. I walked into the…

A Mick with Tequila: The East Durham Irish Festival

The East Durham Irish Festival takes place in the most ridiculously Irish town this side of Galway. As we drove down Route 145 in Greene County on Memorial Day weekend, we passed a sign declaring we were entering “The Emerald Isle of the Catskills.” I had traveled with my girlfriend Jody down to Kingston to…

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Throne Room in the Catskills

I first came upon Dibble’s Quarry with no foreknowledge of the place, stumbling upon the slate monoliths more than a decade ago while hiking with my friend Sam. I remember the scene opening up around a bend in the trail, a giant, dusty throne room with spiders and toads skittering about its floors like warped handmaidens. Sam doesn’t remember the scene…

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Catskill’s Abandoned Cement Plant

Getting into the LeHigh Cement plant involved a degree of clandestine planning usually reserved for dodgier military assaults. I thought I was just going to stroll in there one Sunday afternoon, but, in attempting to stroll in there one Sunday afternoon, I was met with a ten-foot chain link fence topped with three vicious lines…