12 hours in the Catskills

12 hours catskills composite

By Julie Madsen

Sometimes it's easy to forget just how close the Catskills are to the Capital Region. The northern edge of the area is in Greene County, immediately to the south of Albany County. And it's just an hour's drive away.

So you can head out to the Catskills for a day full of hiking, shopping, and eating -- and still be back home to sleep in your own bed...

Set out at 8 am on I-87 south...

9:00 AM - Breakfast

The most important meal of the day, so they say. The Catskills are full of eclectic and kitschy spots to start your day right. Here are two options to try:

Donut slider breakfast sandwiches from Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks Coffee & Donuts
5950 Main St, Tannersville, NY 12485
Along with standard breakfast fare Twin Peaks makes its own delectable mini donuts. If you can't choose between sweet and savory, why not have both? They have donut slider breakfast sandwiches on the menu. After breakfast you can play some pool or shop around the attached antique shop.

Raspberry danish from Hartmann's

Hartmann's Kaffeehaus
1507 Hearts Content Rd, Round Top, NY 12473
To be honest I didn't make it past the dessert display case at Hartmann's. Maybe you have more willpower. There is something sinfully special about stuffing your face with a raspberry danish first thing in the morning. I saw others seated and civilized eating traditional breakfast, so if that's more your speed it looked great as well.

10:30 AM - Take a hike

Get out and enjoy the beauty of the mountains that the region is named for which surround you.

Kaaterskill Falls

Kaaterskill Falls
NY-23A Palenville, NY (map)
The path is a short, steep, and rewarding hike. Before you even take a step you are dazzled by Bastion Falls at the base of the trail. A rocky 1.4 miles round trip jaunt will bring you out and back from New York's highest two-tier waterfall, the magnificent Kaaterskill Falls. (The state Department of Environmental Conservation has been building new trails and staircases at the falls this summer, so the upper portion of the falls is currently closed to the public. But you can still access the base of the falls from the trailhead on Route 23A.)

The Ashokan Reservoir

For more of a relaxing stroll...
Try the flat, paved Ashokan Reservoir trail with the most awe-inspiring views of the surrounding Catskill mountain range, which are reflected onto the reservoir doubling your delight. NY-28A Shokan, NY (map)

The view from Overlook Mountain

For more of a challenge...
Try the strenuous Overlook Mountain trail with hotel ruins to explore and a fire tower to climb for panoramic views. Don't miss the beautiful grounds and temple of the Tibetan Monastery across the street. 335 Meads Mountain Rd, Woodstock, NY 12498

12:00 PM - Lunch time

12_hours_in_Catskills_circle_w_general store.jpg
Sandwiches from Circle W

A great post-hike meal can be found at the Circle W General Store, which pumps out killer sandwiches with great local and homemade ingredients. The Fernwood Panino has fresh mozz, tomato, and Whole in the Wall pesto on Bread Alone ciabatta, perfect for your veggie friend -- or slap a slab of apple cider-cured bacon on it, which could only make it better. While your meal is being made you can mosey around the aisles of the market that has been open since 1908. 3328 NY-23A, Palenville, NY 12463

1:30 PM - A bit of culture

Opus 40

Opus 40 is a unique sculpture park and museum built by one man, using the materials from his quarry, and an interesting method. This exhibit is fascinating to explore, wander the subterranean paths and climb up to the huge monolith of this amazing landscape. 50 Fite Rd, Saugerties, NY 12477

3:00 PM - Visit a roadside attraction

Discover America's largest kaleidoscope inside Emerson Resort and Spa. Kaatskill Kaleidoscope will run you $5 for a psychedelic show in a 56-foot silo. If you haven't had enough after 10 minutes of gazing at the mesmerizing pictures on the ceiling, take a look around the kaleidastore filled with intricate and beautiful kaleidoscopes for purchase. 5340 New York 28, Mt Tremper, NY 12457

4:00 PM - Woodstock

No trip to the Catskills is complete without a visit to the town of Woodstock. Wander up and down the main drag people watching and popping into shops. If you visit on a weekend check out the Mower's Weekend Flea Market where you can haggle for a cool souvenir. 11 Maple Ln, Woodstock, NY 12498

5:30 PM - Dinner

After a long day full of fun and excitement, dinner awaits. There are lots of options in Woodstock for any palate, wallet, and atmosphere. Here are a few ideas:

The Green Palate Vege-Terranean Grill
Rock City Road at Tinker St. Woodstock, NY 12498
If you want an affordable and laid back meal, this food stand is your spot. You'll sit outside and smell the food cooking fresh on the grill while talking to owner Giovanni. This family-owned and vegan-friendly restaurant serves simple menu items such as grilled pizzas, award-winning veggie sliders, and corn on the cob. Opened weekends only.

Butterscotch budino at Cucina

109 Mill Hill Rd, Woodstock, NY 12498
If you're looking for good food with a classy ambiance, look no further than Cucina. Enjoy sitting out on its rustic porch or slide onto a couch within the chic interior. This kitchen has contemporary Italian-inspired meals with many pizza and pasta options, the salads and fresh fish dishes are wonderful as well. Be sure to save room for dessert, the butterscotch budino with toasted coconut crème is scrumptious!

New World Home Cooking
1411 Saugerties-Woodstock Rd, Saugerties, NY 12477
Of course, there's now a New World branch in Albany. But the original in Saugerties is worth a visit if you're in the Woodstock area. As with the Albany location, you'll find a dedication to local ingredients and exciting flavors in a trendy environment. Get the blackened string beans, they're addictive. Be sure to make reservations, this place gets packed!

Be back in your car by 7:00, and back snug in Albany by 8 pm ready for 12 hours of sleep.

Julie has got the travel-bug. Whether it's day trips, weekend getaways, or wandering around the world -- she's always up to something. Read more about her adventures at juliejourneys.com.

New World Catering advertises on AOA.


All that activity calls for a beer at Crossroads Brewing :


I actually took Julie's advice this past weekend and took my dad (armed with his new camera) for a trip down to the Catskills. Ashokan Reservoir was absolutely gorgeous. Well worth the trip!

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