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Catskill Mountain House Overlook

In a region made renowned in the 19th century for hospitality and gracious resorts, the Catskill Mountain House looms large as the most important and most famous of the Catskill resorts. In its day it drew potentates and presidents, millionaires and tycoons, the upper crust of society flowed onto and across its vast colonnaded porch overlooking the Hudson Valley from atop its high cliffside perch.

Everyone who was anyone took the steamship up the Hudson to Catskill and transferred to trains and carriages for the precipitous climb up to the Mountain House. People of culture and refinement flocked to the Catskills as part of the romantic movement centered on returning to the values of the natural and untamed world. A natural world, quite naturally held at bay and reformatted to the sensibilities and customs of the era.

The reward for the trip to the Catskill Mountain House was a resort where you were catered to and where your every need was seen to. But most of all, the reward was the setting and the view. Perched high up on the very edge of an escarpment, the Mountain House laid claim to the most spectacular location in all of the Catskill Mountains. Behind it a lake lazily rested reflecting the high peaks to the west in its blue toned waters and before it, the very mountains themselves fell dramatically away opening a 180 degree view stretching out across the Hudson Valley to the Berkshires in the east. Surrounding it was the majesty of nature and the great primeval forests covering the mountains.

Now long gone, the site of the Catskill Mountain House is now little more than a large clearing in the forest with some old pathways and a few piles of old stone foundations. What still draws people to the site is the view, the incomparable view afforded to anyone willing to take a very short walk on a well maintained path located at the eastern end of the North-South Lake State Campground. When you reach the site the mountains quite literally disappear and drop away and the mighty Hudson River cruises along in the middle of its wide alluvial plain. Farms dot the landscape as you look out across to the Taconic & Berkshire Mountains dozens of miles away in the east. To the north lies the capital city of Albany and south you can see down past Kingston. On a dark night with the sky clouded over with stars and the lights of country people flickering below, you would swear you are floating through the air.

This most spectacular of all views in the Hudson Valley is easily approached. Just enter the North-South Lake State Campground and drive till you cannot drive any more. You'll be in a dirt parking area past the beaches and a sign will point you to the path to the Catskill Mountain House. It's a fairly short path, possibly 1/4 mile, out to the site where you will be rewarded with the view. With a little effort, the trail is sort of handicapped accessible, but consideration should be given for a little assistance over a couple of rough spots.

Take a picnic and sit out on the lawn or over by the edge of the cliff. Make sure to go on a clear day. If you arrive on a humid August afternoon, all you will be rewarded with is a wall of gray haze as the nearest object down in the Valley that can be seen is quite literally over a mile away.

Specifics on visiting the Catskill Mountain House Overlook were correct at time of publication. We would suggest that you confirm dates and times prior to your visit.
 
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