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A Nature Lovers Guide to the Delaware River Valley

Ninety minutes from New York City, nearly 1000 square miles of rivers, lakes, rolling hills, mountains and scenic byways make up the Sullivan Catskills. Though there’s something here for everyone, nature lovers in particular will find a haven here, where they can hike a mountain, bike through scenic towns, take a guided nature tour, or cruise down the Delaware River… all in the same day. Located on the western edge of Sullivan County, the Delaware River Valley is unique and beautiful, with its rolling hills, long vistas and rock cut landscapes.

The Delaware River Valley is spattered with sleepy river towns, all with cozy inns, shops, and restaurants. Callicoon is one of these gems, and the home of Nine River Road, the perfect place for nature lovers to build a weekend nest. Perched atop a hill overlooking the Delaware River, the eight-room dates back to 1884. After its previous life as a furniture store, these days the house serves as a home base to experience all the best things about life on the river. Many rooms have river views, and all rooms have access to a kitchen, living room with a potbelly stove, and plentiful reading material. In the morning, borrow one of the hotel’s cruiser bikes to ride over the bridge and catch the sunrise over the mountains. Spend the afternoons swimming or water sporting in the river; evenings are best spent on the screened in porch with a glass of local wine, or with fellow guests around a bonfire.

A couple minutes up the road, Callicoon is also home to Landers River Trips. Trips on kayak, canoe, or raft begin in Callicoon and go as far as Matamoras, PA. Tubing excursions are also available from Skinners Falls to Narrowsburg. No matter your vehicle or route, the river varies from bursts of white water to placid pools, where fish and other aquatic life can be seen from your boat. Keep an eye out for bald eagles too–the Delaware River Valley is home to several hundred of these magnificent birds.

Of course, water sports aren’t year round, but the hiking here is. Several trails are spectacular throughout the seasons; just make sure you’re properly outfitted, especially in summer and winter. Twenty minutes from Callicoon, Jensen Ledges in Long Eddy is a popular hike. The 2-mile round trip can have some steep moments, but the spectacular views of the Upper Delaware River Valley at the top make it worth every drop of sweat. At the top, take some photos, add to the cairn collection, or simply take in the views. Another great hike is the Tusten Mountain Trail, also about twenty minutes from Callicoon in Narrowsburg. The 3-mile loop climbs over 1,120 feet above sea level, and can take up to three hours. Again, the views at the top make it a worthwhile jaunt. Along the way, remains of a stone arch bridge was built in 1875 when the lumbering and quarrying industries were at peak for the region.

Last but not least, for those wanting a more in-depth or educational nature experience, The Outside Institute is a must. The organization has a year-round program schedule including forest bathing, hikes, plant walks, field trips and workshops. Collaborations with expert guides, craftspeople and educators offer instruction in beekeeping, herbalism, sustainable foraging, tracking, photography, birding, natural dyes and more. A wide range of activities can be found on The Outside Institute’s event page; among the offerings are six-course meals based on locally grown ingredients and wild edibles (from $90) and weekly nature walks educating hikers about native flora, fauna, and fungi (free.)

This post was created in collaboration with Sullivan Catskills. However, all views and recommendations are our own.

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