When it comes to outdoor adventures, Greene County ranks among the top spots in the northeast. Home to five of the tallest Catskill Peaks and extending into the Catskill Park, a New York State designated Forever Wild area, the Great Northern Catskills offer outdoor recreation in one of America's first and most pristine areas. It doesn't hurt that most trails are within a few minutes' drive of some of the best microbreweries and burger joints in Upstate New York.
Choose Your Own Adventure – Catskills Edition
Remember those choose- your-own adventure books from when you were a kid? Man, weren't those the coolest? We've taken that idea, and worked it into a few real-life scenarios for you. From this point on, adventure awaits, but you pick the place and pace!
Start your adventure on the trail to Diamond Notch Falls. The trail is lightly trafficked and an easy-to-moderate hike. Put your city-self to shame, and lace up those boots and head to the trailhead, located off of County Road 6, just off of State Route 42 north of Deep Notch. About three-quarters of a mile in on the trail, a 15-foot waterfall tumbles down a nearby rock ledge, creating a chilly pool that only the bravest souls dare enter. In total, this Catskill hiking trail loops for four miles, offering an ideal mid-morning jaunt before moving on to your next adventure.
Are you A) Ready for breakfast? B) Ready for a beer? or C) Amped up and ready to tackle something a little more daring?
- A) If you're ready for breakfast, head 10 miles down the road to Tannersville, and hit up Maggie's Krooked Café & Juice Bar for some of the best eggs benny you've ever had, or The Catskill Mountain Country Store where The Tall Tale breakfast special offers ample opportunity to tell a few of your own.
- B) The Catskills Beverage Trail features six diverse stops, but in order to maximize time, you have two nearby options here: head to Tannersville's Hudson-Chatham Winery to enjoy a glass of what is likely the best New York State wine you've never tasted before, or drive to 15 miles to Hammo's Brewpub & Lodge for killer views and great beer. Bonus ending: Hammo's offers a diverse mac and cheese menu. You've earned those calories, right?
- C) If the hike only served to whet your appetite for adventure, head to Hunter Mountain where the longest, fastest, highest, and longest zipline canopy tour in North America awaits the brave at heart. Spend the next three hours flying through the air and trying not to look down.
Continue your Catskills adventure tour, this time on two wheels. Windham Mountain Bike Center is a MTBParks.com's "Top Five Best Bike Park" in the Northeast – and for good reason. Designed by park pros Gravity Logic, and host of the only North American World Cup Downhill mountain bike race, Windham's winter terrain has been transformed into a pedaler's paradise. Take the modified chairlift to the top with your bike, and let 'er rip. There are trails for all skill levels, and expert guides and instructors on hand to tailor your experience to your needs. End the day at the Skills Park, including berms, tabletops, a mini rock garden, and all the burly features you could ever want.
After stomping it, you're ready for your next adventure. Do you cool down with A) A hike to Pratt Rock, B) A burger and beer stat or C) Kayaking on the Hudson River?
- A) Pratt Rock is about 10 miles from Windham, and has one of the kookiest stories of any place in the Catskills. Carved into a cliff side by town-founder and leather tanner Zadock Pratt, the carvings, which feature highlights from Pratt's life, are like a 19th century version of an Instagram feed. Totally worth the after-bike hike.
- B) If you're anything like the rest of humanity, the only thing you're thinking about after mountain biking is "I could really go for a burger and a beer." You're in luck, because 25 miles away – trust us, it's worth the drive – The New York Restaurant offers both. Signature burgers and hand-cut fries, craft micro-brew drafts and evening entertainment await.
- C) Rent kayaks or stand-up paddleboards from one of the businesses on the Catskill Creek waterfront in Athens or Catskill, and head for open water. The creek stretches for 40 miles, offering access to riverfront dining and shopping if you're into that, or connect to the Hudson River and explore the secret coves on Henry Hudson's namesake waterway.
If it's snowing in the mountains, we switch from hiking and biking to skiing and snowboarding. The Great Northern Catskills hide two stellar ski resorts that offer some of the best terrain in the northeast. Hunter Mountain, the unofficial "snowmaking capital of the world," has the snow conditions down to a science. The cord is pristine, the trails diverse, and the après scene off the chain. At Windham Mountain, the vibe is very family-friendly, and their motto as the "Northeast's premier alpine lifestyle since 1960" is as true today as it was in 1960. Get vertical and start shredding at the Catskills' ski resorts. When your legs are jelly, it's time to choose your next adventure.
Do you A) Take a tour on the New York Zipline Adventure Tour B) Hit the hotel's hot tub and see where the night leads or C) Go for a moonlit cross-country ski or snowshoe through the woods?
- A) As the longest, fastest, and highest zipline canopy tour in North America, the New York Zipline Adventure Tour is already pretty crazy as far as adventures go. Tac on the winter temperatures and wind chill – and you've got one gnarly challenge. However, with balaclava, gloves, and expert instruction, it's one heck of a thrill ride.
- B) Ok, well, perhaps the adventures of the day have left you more jelly-legged that usual, but what's more adventurous than heading to your hotel in the Catskills, walking outside in your bathing suit while the snow falls? Or more romantic than relaxing in a hot tub with your significant other? We dare you to not enjoy this moment.
- C) The mountains are one thing, the valleys another, and both offer insanely fun winter sports recreation opps. Rent cross-country ski or snowshoe equipment from one of the local retailers and hit the trail to discover the quiet adventure of gliding across a snow-covered trail while a full moon rises overhead. It's downright magical you guys.
Don't miss a moment of adventure, sign up for our e-newsletter and be the first to know what's going on in the Great Northern Catskills. Let the adventure begin! Turn to page one to get started...