Apples, pumpkins, leaf-peeping, cider drinking, hiking—tis the season for some of our favorite seasonal activities, in one of our favorite parts of New York state. Here’s how to do fall in the Sullivan Catskills, just two hours from NYC.
This post is sponsored by the Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association.
Fall is a magical time in the Northeast. But there’s something about the tree-carpeted Sullivan Catskills—crisscrossed by rivers and streams, dotted with farms, rich with seasonal produce and locally made products—that makes it extra special.
We love the towns of Narrowsburg and Callicoon for their proximity to the Delaware River, especially for summer months, but drive a little east from the border with Pennsylvania and you’re in fall farm heaven. The proximity to the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts puts you at the center of several fall festivals, right around the storied grounds of the original Woodstock. And the area’s wonderful hiking is next-level during the fall, getting you up close and personal to those gorgeous colorful trees.
Here’s where to get your fall on in the Sullivan Catskills.
Local Farms: Apples, Pumpkins, Corn Mazes, Animals + Camping
Come October 1, it seems everyone in the Northeast (particularly us city dwellers!) wants to be at a pick-your-own farm for not only the waning season of apples, but also to choose their own pumpkins, wander through a corn maze, and perhaps take a hay ride. All the fall activities wrapped up into one day.
The Sullivan Catskills area isn’t lacking in the farm department, whether it’s a day trip or a weekend visit you’re after. Cunningham Family Farms in Swan Lake checks all the boxes—pumpkins, corn maze, hay rides—and adds gem mining and play areas for children into the mix, including a cool obstacle course for the 12+ set. It’s open every weekend through the end of October, 11am to 5pm. (Because this farm is so near to Bethel Woods, a visit here makes an ideal pairing with one of the arts center’s fall festivals, detailed below.)
Up in Claryville, swing by Galli Family Farm to order and buy duck, chicken, or heritage-breed turkeys (for Thanksgiving), as well as organic eggs and organic, made-to-order challah. The flocks are small, and all animals are free-range, pasture-raised, organically fed, and free of GMOs and antibiotics. That’s not the only reason to visit, though: Owner Dimona Galli says the farm’s nine sheep and three goats are very friendly and love to be pet by everyone. The 23 turkeys, too, are “extremely social creatures.” Families are welcome to come and stay a while.
Pair this visit with a stop at the charming Claryville Art Center and Russian Mule Brewing Company, both within the pretty Blue Hill Catskills property—there’s the riverfront Blue Hill Lodge and 40-plus miles of hiking and mountain biking here too, if you want to stay awhile!
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South of there, in Mountain Dale, don’t miss the family-owned Majestic Farm, the county’s only organic pick-your-own farm. Bring a picnic and plan to load up on apples this time of year (pictured above)—to be specific, Crimson Crisp, Enterprise, Galarina, Florina, and Idared varieties, among others. You might also consider staying the night: Majestic offers four tiny houses or campsites scattered around its gorgeous property, with a shared outhouse, kitchen, and outdoor shower, which look ideal for fall.
The best part? You can pre-order and pick up meats and eggs from Majestic, so you can cook up fresh bacon and sausage on the grated fire pit for breakfast in the morning, or make farm-fresh ribs for dinner. Combine a weekend visit here with hiking at the Mountain Dale Rail Trail (more details below) or the gorgeous, waterfall-studded Neversink Gorge Trail, 20 minutes to the south, and a stop by the Forage and Gather Market in Mountain Dale, a hybrid café-market-bookstore where local artisans can be found.
Over in picturesque Narrowsburg, along the Delaware River, the open-air Narrowsburg Farmers Market is another great opportunity to sample lots of locally made goodies in one place. More than 15 farmers, food producers, and artisans set up every Saturday through Oct. 30 (10am-1pm) to sell everything from regional meat, produce, and mushrooms to local wine and cider and handmade pottery. Stop by the riverfront Laundrette nearby for excellent wood-fired sourdough pizza (and other seasonal dishes) afterward.
Fall Festivals in the Sullivan Catskills
The leafy, sprawling Bethel Woods Center for the Arts is festival headquarters this fall. While the six-week-long Harvest Festival just wrapped up, the Big Sip beverage festival is on deck for Oct. 9-10. Over the course of this two-day event, expect live music from the likes of Smash Mouth and Remember Jones while sampling from the area’s wonderful wineries, distilleries, and breweries. For local-drink aficionados, this is a dream: lots of regional wines, local craft beers (including those from breweries we’ve loved visiting, like Upward, Shrewd Fox, and Catskill Brewery), and locally made distilled spirits, all at your fingertips. General admission tickets cost $40-$45 ($20-$25 for designated drivers).
Right on the heels of the Big Sip, get ready for Halloween! The outdoor, family-friendly Peace, Love and Pumpkins walk-through experience shows off gorgeous hand-carved jack o’lanterns and glowing pumpkin art evenings between Oct. 15-30. (Expect some Woodstock festival icons in the mix of designs!) Tickets are $10-$20, but you might want to hold off on your visit until Halloween weekend (Oct. 29-31), when the first-ever Night Fall Festival Market is happening there, featuring 50-plus craft and specialty food vendors.
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Fall Hiking and Biking in the Sullivan Catskills
We’ve previously recommended lots of hiking trails in this region, but there’s more! Particularly appealing in autumn is the network of rail trails across the otherwise hilly Sullivan Catskills—there’s something about a leisurely walk or bike ride on flat terrain through a canopy of colorful leaves that just screams fall, am I right?
In this scenic county, the main line of the former New York, Ontario, and Western Railway (O&W) once traveled for 50 miles. Several segments of these onetime railroad beds have already been converted into multiuse trails as part of the Sullivan O&W Rail Trail project. Over time, more and more former rail towns are revitalizing into trail towns, and eventually all trails will connect for the full 50 miles.
The 2.6-mile Mountain Dale Rail Trail is a great one to visit, near as it is to Majestic Farm and the cute hamlet of Mountain Dale. There’s a replica of the Mountain Dale Depot building at the trailhead, and a bike shop, Cinder Track Bicycles (6 Railroad Ave.), should you need any repairs (or a bike to purchase!). This trail connects with the 1.7-mile Woodridge Rail Trail—a good place to turn back, or keep on going to the banks of the Neversink River.
For a longer hike or ride, try the 5.4-mile Hurleyville Rail Trail, which extends in two directions from the hamlet of Hurleyville. Rent bikes for the whole family at Fortress Bikes (194 Main St.) and plan for lunch at the Pickled Owl (more details below).
Where to Eat in the Sullivan Catskills This Fall
This region is filled with good eats, but here are some restaurants in the areas of the farms, festivals, and hikes recommended above.
In Rock Hill, about 10 minutes south of Mountain Dale, stop by BHR (Bernie’s Holiday Restaurant), an American fish house and steakhouse that’s been in business since 1963. It’s a slice of old Catskills with an updated menu that highlights locally sourced, sustainable ingredients whenever possible. 277 Rock Hill Dr., map
Twenty minutes north of Swan Lake, in Livingston Manor, we like the Kaatskeller for its thin-crust wood-fired pizzas, local beers, and pretty, spacious garden (with bocce courts!). Definitely try the local brook trout rillettes (pictured below) while you’re there. 39 Main St., map
Located inside the Alder hotel at casino destination Resort World Catskills in Monticello, Dos Gatos Cantina is a fun, casual indoor-outdoor Mexican restaurant with 120 types of tequila and margaritas on tap plus a sweet fire pit. 888 Resorts World Drive, map