Spring Hiking for the Soul
Refresh Your Body/Mind/Spirit in the Catskill Mountains
Being in the mountains is restorative. We breathe a little deeper, lift our faces to the sun overhead, find ourselves smiling for no reason. Boy, we must look funny. But who cares? We're outside, it's springtime, everything smells fresh and nothing but beauty and the open trail lies ahead.
This spring, head to the Great Northern Catskills to hike in the Catskill Park. Feel the cabin fever roll off of your shoulders and let the promise of new beginnings sink in on our favorite hiking trails. We guarantee you’ll leave a little lighter in spirit.
Juuust in case you didn't already know, Greene County's waterfalls, mountains and valleys are what inspired America's first truly unique artistic style: The Hudson River School. Painters like Frederic Church and Thomas Cole helped bring the concept of wilderness preservation to cities, inspiring vacationers to travel north from NYC to experience the sense of untamed wonder. Luckily, the seed of preservation planted by Cole and his contemporaries grew into the Catskill Park, a "Forever Wild" area of New York State, which means that the views these painters captured are for the most part unchanged for today's visitors. Start at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill and grab a map of the trail. Hike to Kaaterskill Falls, view the Hudson River from a rocky ledge, and find Alligator Rock and Sunset Rock – all places immortalized by America's first maverick artists. Spring hiking in the Catskills doesn't get any better than this!
Hunter Mountain's resident work of art has a long history with the Catskills. Washington Irving's characters tended to be larger than life – and to outlive their own short stories. Ichabod Crane still flees the horseman in our imaginations, and Rip Van Winkle still wakes to find his beard grown long and 20 years' worth of 40 winks under his belt. Irving's short story about the henpecked Dutchman was inspired by his visit to Greene County, in particular the Kaaterskill Clove, a deep cleft in the mountains that enchanted the young writer. Visit the Kaaterskill Clove Experience to gaze across the landscape that provided inspiration and backdrop for Rip's story, or hike the trail up Hunter Mountain. A blue stone carving of Rip sits atop Hunter Mountain, making for a unique hiking destination. Access the carving by hiking to Rip's resting place, or by hiking from one of the many access points to the summit if you're up for a climb.
Tannersville's hidden gem provides nearly 180 acres of gardens, forests and quiets marshland for exploring. Ideal for families with little kids, or anyone who is looking for an easy nature walk in the Catskills, the Mountain Top Arboretum features towering pine groves and dwarf conifers, a woodland walk and meadow - making it a destination that enchants in any season. Open from dawn to dusk throughout the year, explore the wooded paths and quiet meadows solo or join a guided walk to learn more about the arboretum's flora, then enjoy tea with new friends. Bring binoculars for the spring migration birding season, learn about edible fungi on a Mushroom Walk, or take a forest bath with a certified Shinrin-yoku nature therapist.
HCP offers four major trails, the LaVerne Irving, North, Red Lopp, and Paper Mill - and all lead to spectacular views. Spreading over more than 110 acres, the preserve's easy-to-follow, clearly marked hiking trails lead to a cascading waterfall, scenic overlooks, and the foundation of an old paper mill. Open year-round to non-motorized traffic, the atmosphere is quiet and serene - perfect for communing with nature.
Coxsackie's 7.6-acre nature preserve is located mid-way between the Hudson River's eight-mile course between the towns of Hudson and Coxsackie - hence the name. Once the site of a Native American tool making workshop, then a 19th-century icehouse used to store frozen blocks of ice before shipment to Manhattan during warmer months, traces of the area's bustling past remain. Explore picturesque shoreline, or take a wooded nature trail for a tranquil walk through the woods.