Friends From the Forest is a series of hikes that aims to put the focus back on the time spent with people. Our early experiences on trail were filled with countless amazing men & women of all ages. The time they spent with us, and the memories we created, inspired us to pursue our passion for guiding. Now we would like to create an opportunity to take the focus off the activity, or the destination, and put it where it really counts! Back to our friends from the forest. If you have crossed paths with us you are welcome to join us, and we look forward to creating many memorable experiences that inspire others to enjoy their time spent with friends in the great outdoors.
This unique program puts control in your hands. The beginning of each week, we will announce a location, and activity that was selected from one of your suggestions. The adventure will take place on a Wednesday, or Thursday. Selections will be made with careful thought to the season, conditions, and with safety in mind. We will post registration infomartion when we announce the destination. Don't wait to register, as space will be limited to 11, so we may comply we backcountry regulations, and best practices.
As the summer crowds begin to dwindle, we look forward to spending time, catching up with our friends in the forest. We will offer a host of new programs this season. From interpretive history walks, to fishing trips on the legendary waters of the Catskill Mountains. We will have all kinds of adventures, with all sorts of amazing friends.
We kick off our next round of adventures, in the series, during the first week of September. We hope you can join us, and we would like to remind you that you can, and should recommend an adventure for this series!
Nestled deep in the Western Catskills, this area is perfect for a relaxing flat water paddle. Surrounded by the Millbrook Ridge to the north, and the Cradle Rock Ridge to the south. Alder Lake is wrapped in fall colors, this time of year. On a day without a breeze the lake is like a mirror reflecting the vibrant, and varied colors of autumn, back at us. It is picture perfect for sure!
We thought it would be helpful to see where we have ventured previously with our Friends From the Forest. Remember anyone is welcome to suggest an adventure to be featured in this series. To suggest an adventure simply send us a message, and let us know where you want to go!
What a great choice to kick off this series. We had a grand time exploring John Burroughs backyard. Our early morning mid week hike, allowed a pervasive sense of solitude to permeate the forest around us. The only other visitors we encountered on our leisurely stroll around the preserve were several deer browsing the tender buds on low hanging branches. The peculiarly warm weather (70's) was an odd, yet welcome treat for the end of February. I caught a faint whiff of spring in the air that day, and I Look forward to revisiting the treasured sight to watch the seasons, and their scenery come and go.
Join us for another great selection! This hike brings us to the legendary California Quarry in Woodstock. Tucked beneath Overlook Mountain this once bustling quarry produced some of the most desirable bluestone in the region. Today it sits quietly overlooking Woodstock and the lesser peaks that dot the horizon beyond. The hike will be a rather short one, but will feature ample views, and allow for time to relax and reflect, as the sun slips behind the mountains to our west.
This enchanted valley holds some of natures most spectacular scenery. Most of it is nestled deep in a very treacherous landscape. However, the trails on the Platte Clove Preserve, provide safe access to this beautiful 75 foot waterfall.This waterfall sits atop a narrow gorge that plummets through the valley downstream. The sweeping views along the trail extend all the way to the Hudson River. Bring goods shoes, and a camera on this adventure!
The Ferncliff Preserve is a great example of efforts to protect the landscape, of the Hudson Valley. The Hike features uniques groves of old growth, and gentle terrain. The views from the fire tower provide an unrivaled perspective of the Catskills.
Flanked by a canal on one side, rails on another, Joppenbergh Mt. was once home to several bustling cement mines. Until one day, when the mountain could no longer give anymore, and it sealed the mine shafts with a series of mighty collapses. Today, Thanks to the efforts of the community, and the Wallkill Valley Land Trust, the mountain is open for recreation. We will follow a trail that works its way up the mountain to breathtaking vistas, which overlook the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, and the Rondout Creek below.
Torn from the pages of a Catskills fairy tale this once bustling quarry site captives the imagination. With stone chairs, and meandering walls, that adorn the open mountainside. Sit atop the sky throne, amidst the meander walls, perched high on a mountain of bluestone, and gaze across the vast valley to the edge of the Great Wall of Manitou. Watch the Hudson wind through the distant valley below. This enchanted pile of stones is more than just a remnant of forest industry. It is a place where our imagination, and curiosity have a chance to run wild.
The Woodstock Land Conservancy's Sloan Gorge Preserve opened to the public in June 2007. Located at the foot of Overlook Mountain on the Woodstock-Saugerties town line, the 88-acre Preserve is a treasure trove of mixed hardwood and coniferous forests, vernal pools, a seasonal stream, and bluestone quarries, and has the first interpretive “geology trail” in the area. It is home to bear, fox, deer, racoon, possum, porcupines, and a wide variety of birds and woodland flora.
At the entrance to the preserve are two half-hip, pony-style trusses from a 24-foot-long bridge built by the King Bridge company in 1887 located across Black Creek in the town of Byron, NY. The Sloan family, who owned the King Bridge Company, donated them to the Woodstock Land Conservancy. It is reputed to be one of the oldest wrought-iron bridges in New York State.
Just inside the blue line of the Catskill Park, Onteora Lake is often overlooked. Hidden right in plain sight, most people looking to spend time connecting in nature don't think that they can find the peace, and serenity of nature here. While the area surrounding the upper, and lower parking lots could easily give a passer by that impression. Those that take the time to walk just a little deeper know, that there is a treasure waiting to be discovered. We will take relaxing walk passed vernal pools, old bluestone quarries, and a diverse and changing forest. We will wander off the yellow loop, and approach the waters of both Onteora Lake, and Spooky Lake. In the summer both sites provide good sites for foraging. We will take some time to explore these abundant habitats, before return along the loop trail. This trip just begins to scratch the surface of what is hidden in plain sight, at the eastern edge of the Catskill Forest Preserve.
This hillside would have been prized by anyone lucky enough to discover it. Spillian sits at the base of Fleischmann Mountain. The lower slopes of the mountain, are alive with springs bubbling, fresh pure mountain water to the surface. No doubt this, and the majestic view across the valley, are what caught the attention of the Fleischmanns family when they built their grand summer retreats upon the hillside. Today, Spillian is the only one of these grand cottages remaining, providing us a rare glimpse into the history of the Western Catskills. Certainly a time in these mountains when anything seemed possible.
As the forest has grown, it has incorporated the once sprawling garden landscape creating an enchanted forest laced with carriage roads, and dotted with clues that hint at the grandeur of what once occupied this land. Our walk will loop up, and down the hillside. Along the way, I will help you read the story, that the forest has illustrated for us, with its truly unique composition. We will marvel at unparalleled botanical specimens, and at Mother Nature’s ingenuity, as we stroll along the old carriage roads. Once we have returned from the forest I invite you all to join me on the sprawling front porch. I will share lively stories, and legends from these magic mountains. While we relax delicious treats, and cocktails, will be available for us to enjoy, as the day fades from the sky.
This adventure brings us to Bovina, NY into the wide open skies, and rolling hills of Delaware County, in the Great Western Catskills. We will explore the peaceful meadows and woods at Field & Stone, a nature escape on 500+ acres comprised of two former dairy farms. Bovina, the Latin word for “cow,” is a name fitting for the town’s dairy farming history, although few working dairy farms remain in the area today, it is easy to imagine how these pastures once bustled with activity. As we stroll along these hills, and gaze upon the once prosperous farm land you will get a sense for the rich history in this corner of the Catskills. We will discover stone walls, and majestic old growth hidden among the newly reforested pasture, at the edge of the open meadows.
We will hike a variety of terrain, down old farms roads once used to move livestock and maintain the fields, through the woods to a large beaver habitat, alongside the property’s abundant fishing streams, and up the rolling hills to a number of spectacular vistas.
Lunch will take place at the historic Maynard house built in the 1880s. It is believed to have been built on the spot where Bovina's first settler, Elisha Maynard, settled in the 1790s. The Maynard farm was one of the best producing dairy farms in the area and remained in the Maynard family until the 1930s.
This trip is a prelude to an extended, weekend adventure we plan to offer in conjunction with Field & Stone. We are so excited to share the magic of the Great Western Catskill with you. The longer, and more immersive adventure will feature more time to explore the sprawling grounds, forest, and streams. It will also connect us to the people, the history, and the exquisite farm to table cuisine this region is known for.
A hidden gem of the Catskills, Onteora Lake offers great hiking trails, and amazing fishing opportunities*. Part of the Blue Stone Forest preserve, this site was once the largest quarry in the Catskills. The easy access and ability to ship the stone helped construct New York City in the late 1800’s. Walk through the trails that workers of the era would use to mine and haul the valuable blue stone. Spend a day visiting an important location in our Catskill history, while enjoying the sights of the quarry. One of our favorite hidden fishing spots is here. We will be able to canoe this hidden lake as you try to angle in some of the monsters from the lake. The lake is home to Chain Pickerel, Yellow Perch, and Catfish. Be prepared for a good fight if you hook anyone of these fish on your line! NYS Fishing License Required if fishing*
Off the beaten path, near the quiet town of Pine Hill, lays the John Burroughs Forest. John Burroughs once said “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order”. This is a spot where you will find your bliss and an admiration for what John loved most about the Catskills. The Birch Creek flows through the area, providing the even-tempered
angler a chance to catch native wild brook trout. Enjoy the peace and serenity of the Catskills,
dedicated to a man who believed in a simpler way of living
Weather, and conditions permitting, the tides will be in our favor for a trip up the western shore, to Robert Post Park. This would provide a nice resting place, and a unique vantage point of the Kingston - Rhinecliff Bridge, and surrounding scenery. Bring your own canoe, or kayak, or ask us about space in one of ours.
The unique monument pays tribute to one of the Catskills most influential, and intriguing characters. Zadock Pratt was a businessman, banker, soldier, congressman, husband (several times), and father. In later years he even started to dabble in conservation. As one of the most productive tannery owners, he altered the landscape around himself, in an incredible fashion. He also started planning for the future of the Catskills long before anyone else even thought there was an end in sight. With his attempts to replant depleted stream banks, and forests, Pratt was way ahead of his contemporaries.
Pratt Rock has a short trail that weaves around a series of carvings, which Pratt commissioned to immortalize his the things he held most dear. The trail while steep in points, is fairly short. Aside from the glimpse at Pratt's monuments in stone, there is also a fantastic view from the overlook atop the ledges. If conditions are just right we should have spectacular fall colors to enjoy as we rest perched above the Schoharie River. The views are great anytime of year, but the colors make it magical! I wouldn't leave the camera home for this one!