On the last weekend of autumn my family and I ventured to one of our favorite weekend getaway destinations, the Catskill Mountains. We had a bumpy start getting there with our car breaking down an hour into our trip, but my family are such great sports about things that for the most part we made it through the unexpected hurdle still smiling.
The next day however, we arrived to the Emerson Resort and Spa, what has become our home away from home. All week before our trip all I could do was daydream about the soft, plush beds of our favorite suite in the lodge, the sounds of the running creek in behind our bedroom window, and the views of the mountains in the background. It’s just all so very dreamy.
Rip Van Winkle around the grounds of the Emerson Resort and Spa. The short story, written by Washington Irving takes place in the Catskill Mountains.
When we visited the foliage was just starting to change colors. It must be so beautiful right about now. Just driving up to the mountains provided us with great views, but the absolute best way to take in all the sights is during a foliage tour offered by the Catskill Mountain Railway.
The Catskill Mountain Railway
If you want a unique tour in the Catskills, then you should take part in a Catskill Mountain Railway tour. This 45-minute train ride along the Esopus from Mt. Temper station, right near the Emerson, takes you along a forested trail, which around this time of year is a colorful display to enjoy. The foliage tours only take place during the weekends till the end of October (check out the website for more information) and get filled fast, with seating provided on a first come, first serve basis.
This wonderful attraction is staffed by volunteers, so please do leave a tip as they offer wonderful insight into the history of the railway and trail. Your visit also helps to support a railway that is currently battling the county to stay in place. There is hope from Ulster County leaders to convert the railway into trails, for running, biking, and walking. However, after my tour and learning more about this historic railway and the fun it offers visitors to the area, it saddens me to think that an attraction such as this would be eliminated. My hope is an agreement can be reached, maybe one where both can exist in unison, as the railway really does complement the visitors’ experience in Ulster County. Check them out, hopefully during the foliage season but then also during their winter tours, and you will see what I mean.
Another wonderful discovery we made during our most recent visit to the area was that of the Kaaterskills Falls hiking trail. In Greene County. This moderate hike almost 6.5 miles long round trip and leads hikers right to two cascading waterfalls, that go as high as 260 feet, making it one of the tallest waterfalls iN New York State. My adventurous little boys (and husband) couldn’t wait to scale the rocks that would take them up to the first landing, and once there they proudly display their most explorer-like pose.
Of course there are endless trails in the Catskills. A great resource in finding the right trails for you and your abilities or desired experience is the Catskill Region tourism site. We don’t miss an opportunity to visit at least one trail when we visit. Also read about our prior visit to learn more about guided hikes.
Apple and Pumpkin Picking
Of course no tour would be complete without a visit to the orchard for apple picking. Though we have enjoyed visiting New Paltz in the past, this time we went to Red Hook, ny and visited the Greig Farm. This farm is pretty basic: you drive in, pick a bag ($25 each) or pay on your way out by weight (we chose the bag) and head into the fields to pick. There is no farm store, which we usually love to visit, but they do host a farmers market and they have a cute little area where the kids can feed the goats.
The boys loved walking through the orchard and picking their favorite apples and they really enjoyed being able to pick their own pumpkins from the field as well – not something you get to do in to many places.
Of course, if you would rather choose from the pre-picked pumpkins, they offer that option as well.
If you still find yourself craving some pastries and coffee, as well as other farm store treats, the Gigi Market and Cafe is not too far from the farm. It seems however that some of their items run out quickly. I was a bit sad when I got there and they had run out of apple cider doughnuts.
Apple Cider Doughnuts
I thought for sure that we were going to leave the Catskill area without having my beloved donuts. It just doesn’t feel like fall without them. We lucked out though, because in driving around downtown Red Hook led us to Terry’s Country Bake Shop.
I was drawn by the colorful displays outside, but was immediately captivated by the scent of freshly baked goods once inside. There, in front of us, was a counter full of doughnuts with even more freshly made ones coming out. There were sugar cookies and snicker doodles and a grandma-like woman, complete with an apron and a warm smile, offering me a taste of it all. “We make the snicker doodles with lots of butter and love,” she said. And man, of man, could I taste it. Without hesitation, we purchased a dozen of the still warm apple cider donuts, with sugar and without and made our way back home feeling like finally fall had truly begun.
I want to thank the Emerson Resort and Spa, and everyone we met that weekend for sending us home with warm hearts, full stomachs, and big smiles.
I can’t wait to go back to celebrate my birthday weekend when the pond will be frozen and opened for ice skating and the holiday tree will be up and lit in their grand parlor, and the resort will be hosting some fun winter events. If you are ever in the area and are staying at the Emerson, they are really great at helping you figure our what to do in the area as well as help you organize activities to make the most of your visit. Or you can just lay low and enjoy their awesome spa. Either way, I loved greeting fall here and am looking forward to celebrating the next season.