We escaped this weekend to the Northern Catskills. I know we just returned from five weeks in Kauai, but you see the college kids were moving in this weekend, which meant party central was going to happen and we wanted to avoid the aggravation (plan failed btw of avoiding the parties, they had big ones last night, when we arrived home).
We selected this area because it was only a two hour drive away and we could get a good day of hiking in, in a new area and well we could hit a few breweries along the way.
Leaving from work, we had to wind our way through Springfield, Massachusetts which was having traffic jams, adding about 20 minutes on to our two hour drive. Once we were through that mess it was smooth sailing and we landed in Leeds, NY at Carl’s Rip Van Winkle Motor Lodge. I was late in booking this, so we didn’t have much choice on units. We ended up with the Balsam cabin, that had one creaky double bed and one stiff as a board twin. It had a mini fridge, it was clean and cozy, so no complaints.
A little after six, we went in search of food and drink. We decided to check out the town of Athens and their local brew pub, Crossroads Brewing. Unfortunately this was not the best experience, the kitchen must have been under staffed because it took over an hour for the burger and salad to come out and this was after two attempts of asking the wait staff for food. The beer was decent and they did comp the beers due to the long wait.
We were both exhausted from a full day of work and the drive so off to bed we went.
The lodge didn’t provide in room coffee, which we knew, so we brought our own set up to make coffee and food stuff for breakfast, so we were fueled up for our hike.
Our planned hike was a loop hike known as North-South Lake: North Point.
We started our trek at the North/South Lake Public Campground. at 8 a.m. Funny thing we lost the trail not even .2 miles in, followed a herd path and ended up down the road. We quickly retreated and found the correct trail. We had to get used to looking for round blue metal trail markers, not the blue painted blazes we are accustomed to in New England.
The views on this trail were beautiful and it was the perfect introduction to hiking in the Catskills region. It wasn’t a demanding trail and I would agree with the guide books as rating it as moderate. The scrambles were fun and not overly taxing or difficult for short legs to accomplish. Only in one section, before the North Point, did I need assistance with a hand pull up to get up a ledge, coming down was much easier.
Our 7 mile hike lasted about 4 hours. We needed to refuel our bodies, so we did an hour drive to a farm to glass brewery, Arrowood Farms in Accord, NY. WOW, what a way to cap off a great hike, sitting outside, facing the hops field, enjoying good beer and food.
Just when you think it can’t get any better, you drive out of the brewery to a view of a sunflower field.
It was time to return to the lodge to rest, clean up and make a plan for dinner. Our dinner choice found us going into Woodstock to R&R , Reynolds and Reynolds. This was a tiny place with a vegetarian menu and an excellent tap list. The menu online doesn’t reflect what they actually offer, but we were not disappointed at all. The food was delicious, fresh and flavorful.
Of course a meal like that needs to be followed by an amazing dessert. Mike had discovered an ice cream place in Saugerties that served a flight of ice cream. Of we went to find Alleyway Ice Cream. We found it, down an alley, inside of a closet, under a business. What a charming place and the best homemade ice cream on the planet. We had our flight of ice cream and while eating we partook in the writing of our wishes to hang on the wishing wall.
This was the perfect place to end an amazing day. Sadly on our way home, there was a traffic delay, a young cub had been hit. This was our first time we’ve seen a bear hit by a car.
Once we returned back the lodge, it was time for some reading and lights out. Sunday morning came quickly. We did the same coffee set up as Saturday, but with a little less coffee because we were headed out for breakfast in Saugerties, once business opened up. We decided to try Bluestone Roasting Company for breakfast. Mike had an excellent cup of coffee, my cappuccino wasn’t up to par, but there were issues with machine, so I forgive them for that. Breakfast foods were excellent.
On our way out of town, we stopped at one of the rocking horses so I could have a picture. One of my sisters used to frighten me with tales of the headless horseman on Halloween, so I found it fitting to take his picture and send it to her.
Once we returned to the lodge, it was time to clean up and pack up. We meandered home via different routes. Our first stop was in Athens, to see the lighthouse in Hudson River and plan our route from there.
We did one of motorcycle scenic routes on Route 23 and 23A to Route 28 and wound ourselves over to Suarez Family Brewery in Hudson, NY. They don’t serve food, but we had stopped along the way to grab a sandwich to eat, while drinking. The beer here was phenomenal. If you are only IPA fan, don’t go (or rather go and expand your palate). This is one of the best new breweries out there, we were blown away and plan to return soon!
We took back roads to return home, the drive was about two and half hours. This was such a fun little get away with so much more for us to explore and hike, that we are planning our return visit already. We can’t wait for our next trip.