Hiking in New York's Catskill Mountains
Just over an hour's drive from New York City, the Catskills have become the urbanite's backyard: full of stylish restaurants, boutiques, and art galleries. The relatively unknown mountain hamlet of Phoenicia is the perfect base for fall hiking.
What to Do
Gear up for your hike with a guidebook and map at the Nest Egg bookshop (84 Main St.; 845/688-5851), then hit the trail: three-mile Giant Ledge (Ulster County Rd. 47, 10 miles west of town), which has panoramic views of 4,180-foot Slide Mountain. Or, trek up the nearby Belleayre Mountain—a ski run in the winter—to see the entire yellow and bronze valley below.
Where to Eat
Plate-size blueberry pancakes are what they're known for at Sweet Sue's (49 Main St.; 845/688-7852; breakfast for two $25), run by Sue Taylor. Assemble a picnic for your hike at the Phoenicia Delicatessen (46 Main St.; 845/688-5125), where the grandmotherly Margarete Nolte makes a stellar German potato salad. Brooklyn-born chef Devin Mills, who trained at New York's Le Bernardin and Gramercy Tavern, opened Peekamoose (8373 Rte. 28; 845/254-6500; dinner for two $65) in the neighboring village of Big Indian in 2005. The red wine-braised beef short ribs are the biggest crowd-pleaser.
Where to Stay
The five-room Phoenicia Belle (73 Main St.; 845/688-7226; doubles from $105) is a Victorian B&B in Catskill Park. Opt for the lower rate (from $90) without breakfast. Instead, go to Alyce & Roger's Fruit Stand on Route 28 (Mt. Tremper; 845/688-2114) for cider doughnuts.
Sue Taylor's favorite trail is Panther Mountain, off Route 28, 10 miles west of town. "The area around the mountain is a ring-shaped valley formed by an ancient meteor impact. From the top, there are Thomas Cole-worthy vistas as far as you can see."