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Catskills 101

Updated: Aug 2, 2019

I feel responsible to give you a teensy bit of Catskills 101 before you hit the road. If you don’t have it, you will get halfway there and have some questions. So, here it is whenever you need it.

The Catskills is a region. It is loosely made up of seven counties. The primary four — Sullivan, Ulster, Delaware and Greene — represent the heart of the region, but three just north of those — Otsego, Schoharie and Albany — also have much to see and do. I like a broader definition of the Catskills than some, and I think you will too. More is more.

Data from US Census includes 2016 population estimates and 2010 land assessments.

The Catskill region features not only these counties but an overlay of Catskill Park, a 700,000-acre area earmarked by the state of New York as a protected area in 1885. In addition to that, 278,500 acres of the park are considered part of the Catskill Forest Preserve and are protected from timber removal while open to the public for recreation amidst the trees, waterfalls and meadows there. Catskill Park and the Forest Preserve are managed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Thank you.

The region also features an impressive network of Catskill and Delaware Watersheds where six reservoirs provide 90% of New York City’s daily water needs. These reservoirs are located in Sullivan, Ulster, Delaware, Greene and Schoharie counties.

Towns and Villages and Hamlets, Oh My!

On a micro level, the organization of Catskill towns is more complicated than I originally realized. Now that I've got it down pat, it seems simple. But, oy, was it confusing at first. Pay attention.

Towns are smaller than cities (le duh!) and are defined by a population range between 20,000 and 100,000 inhabitants. A village is smaller than a town, so officially under 20,000, but usually somewhere between 500 and 2,500 inhabitants. A hamlet is not a small pig, but instead a community within a town that has its own name, but is not incorporated. Are you with me?

Maybe the best way to think of a hamlet is like a neighborhood in New York City — think Chelsea, Park Slope, DUMBO, Harlem. Each neighborhood has its own life, rhythm and personality, but not its own mayor (at least not officially!).

What's funny about the Catskills is that some of the hamlets overshadow the towns they belong to. It's just that way. Some towns, like Rockland, have a number of vibrant hamlets — Livingston Manor and Roscoe, for example.

To keep you oriented as you read, the chapters are organized by county and the county is always included in the post's hashtag (#). Towns and hamlets are announced as you go. More hashtags. Each entry includes a street address, a phone number, a website address and an Instagram handle, where available. All the deets you need!

Also, in the post about each town, you will find “Where do we go from here?” which will direct you to the most easily accessible nearby towns. Have fun exploring!

You know you love me...

XOXO Farm Girl

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