Catskills, The Blue Mountains of the North - maximilianimaging

Catskills The Blue Mountains of the North

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Catskills

The Blue Mountains of The North


While most will go south for the winter, I do the opposite and head north.   I find the subdued desolation and cold winter breezes one of the most soothing and healing experiences of my entire year.  There is nothing like it, which is why I find the Catskills one of the most overlooked hidden gems of New York.


The Catskill Mountains, or the Catskills, are a large area in the southern eastern portion of the U.S. state of New York. They are located approximately 100 miles north-northwest of New York City and 40 miles southwest of Albany, starting just west of the Hudson River. As a cultural and geographic region, the Catskills are generally defined as those areas close to or within the borders of the Catskill Park, a 700,000-acre forest preserve protected from many forms of development under New York state law.

Geologically, the Catskills are a mature dissected plateau, a once-flat region subsequently uplifted and eroded into sharp relief by watercourses. The Catskills form the northeastern end of, and highest-elevation portion of, the Allegheny Plateau (also known as the Appalachian Plateau). Although the Catskills are sometimes compared with the Adirondack Mountains further north, the two mountain ranges are not geologically related, as the Adirondacks are a continuation of the Canadian Shield. Similarly, the Shawangunk Ridge, which forms the southeastern edge of the Catskills, is part of the geologically distinct Ridge-and-Valley province, and is a continuation of the same ridge known as Kittatinny Mountain in New Jersey and Blue Mountain in Pennsylvania.

The Catskills are well known in American culture, both as the setting for many 19th-century Hudson River School paintings and as the favored destination for urban vacationers from New York City in the mid-20th century. The region's many large resorts gave countless young stand-up comedians an opportunity to hone their craft. In addition, the Catskills have long been a haven for artists, musicians, and writers, especially in and around the towns of Woodstock and Phoenicia, New York.

Esopus Creek, Phoenicia, NY

The name Catskills did not come into wide popular use for the mountains until the mid-19th century — in fact, that name was disparaged by purists as too plebeian, too reminiscent of the area's Dutch colonial past, especially since it was used by the local farming population. It may also have been a continuation of the British practice, after taking possession of the colony in the late 17th century, of trying to replace most Dutch Knickerbocker toponyms in present-day New York with their English alternatives.

Esopus Creek, Catskills, NY

The locals preferred to call them the Blue Mountains, to harmonize with Vermont's Green Mountains and New Hampshire's White Mountains. It was only after Washington Irving's stories that Catskills won out over Blue Mountains, and several other competitors.

Kaaterskill Falls Overlook

The confusion over the exact origins of the name led over the years to variant spellings such as Kaatskill and Kaaterskill, both of which are also still used: the former in the regional magazine Kaatskill Life, the latter as the name of a town, creek, clove, mountain and waterfall.  

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Max

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