Monday, July 25, 2016

The Surprising History of Blueberries in the Shawangunks

Just minutes away, the northern Shawangunk Ridge was once home to a lively seasonal community of Berry Pickers who made their living foraging the wild blueberry bushes which thrive atop the wind-swept heights of what is now Minnewaska State Park and Sam’s Point.

Beginning in the early 1700’s, rugged men and women from the area would make the then long, hard journey through untamed wilds to reach these precious fruits.  A road to the ridge wouldn’t be completed until 1850, and bears and mountain lions were common.

Makeshift tarpaper squatter shacks began to appear by 1862, and many pickers would return with their families each July to stay through the season.  A good picker could forage 35 quarts of blueberries every day which would then be sold to the local general store, delivered to Catskill Resorts, and shipped down river to the prosperous people of New York City.

It was the completion of Smiley Road in 1901 which really opened the door for the blueberry picking camps by connecting the ridge to the nearby village of Ellenville.  By 1920 this scenic carriage road supported several thriving communities of transient berry pickers who lived on the ridge for just one month each year while the berries were bountiful.

The berry-picking communities were lively places inhabited by good, simple folk living close to the land.  After filling their baskets from sun up to sun down, the berry pickers would gather together and tell stories, play games, dance, drink and sing.  Some rough-and-tumble camps gained a reputation for being more rowdy than others.

The Berry Pickers were an industrious people who knew that wild blueberry bushes produce the most fruit the year following a wildfire.  When the season’s last berry had been picked, it was common for the Berry Pickers to secretly set fire to the Shawangunk ridge. 

The folks who started these blazes would sometimes return to the local saloon to await the call for firefighters- the same berry pickers who started the fires were often the ones who were paid to help put them out!

Following World War 2, the changing world economy meant the end of an era for the Shawangunk Berry Pickers.  The rise of commercial blueberry farming made the tart treats an inexpensive and widely available commodity, and the reduced demand for blueberries harvested in the wild made it difficult for the Berry Pickers to return.  By the close of the 1950’s, the last of the Berry Pickers had packed up their belongings, and the shanty towns have remained silent ever since. 

More than 60 years later, many artifacts of this unique part of local history still remain, and several of the Berry Picker’s shanties stand in testimony to this forgotten era.  A walk through the Sam’s Point along Old Smiley Road reveals many examples; Minnewaska State Park now manages a nature preserve here which encompasses some of the most popular berry picking sites.

Sadly, a series of wildfires in 2016 have forced the closure of much of the treasured blueberry picking areas for the remainder of the summer, but Minnewaska State Park remains open, enticing visitors with miles of scenic hiking trails and crystal-clear sky lakes with gorgeous mountain views for swimming. 

Come celebrate the beloved berry!  The nearby town of Ellenville pays tribute to this rich local history each year with the Shawangunk Mountain Wild Blueberry Festival which features performances by local musicians, handcrafted gifts, cultural events, entertainment, and of course- all things blueberries!  

Eager to pick your own delicious blueberries?  There's ample opportunity to try your hand at nearby Kelder's Farm which offers visitors a wide range of delicious and healthy farm fresh fruits and vegetables just ripe for the picking!   

Ideally situated just minutes from Minnewaska State Park and the Shawangunk Mountain Blueberry Festival, the Hudson Valley Resort & Spa is the perfect choice for exploring the historic Shawangunk Ridge.  Just 90 miles from NYC, you'll feel a world away.

Featuring indoor and outdoor swimming pools, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam rooms, a fitness center, game room, tennis & basketball courts and so much more, you'll enjoy resort accommodations while exploring all the area has to offer.

Planning a getaway?  Give Hudson Valley Resort & Spa a call today and they'll help you make the most of your stay.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Rocking the 'Gunks!

The brilliant white profile of the The Shawangunk ridge is widely recognized as one of the finest climbing centers in the US, considered by many to be the Yosemite of the East.

Known simply as “The Gunks”, this world-famous 12 mile long escarpment is home to more than 1200 ascent routes which entice the climber with colorful names like “Space Invaders”, “Twilight Zone”, and “Pumping Pygmies”.

Many of the classic routes first established by Fritz Weissner and Hans Kraus have become legendary in rock climbing circles; for some, negotiating epic 'Gunks ascents like High Exposure, Gargoyle, and Gelsa are practically a right of passage.

Flocking to the 'Gunks in record numbers to enjoy peripheral activities like bouldering, mountain biking and hang-gliding, climbers of every skill level are invited to experience the Shawangunk ridge for themselves.

Not only a haven for Climbers, the Shawangunk Ridge boasts thousands of acres of unspoiled natural beauty and accessible scenic views; even a comfortable stroll through Minnewaska’s carriageways or a quick stop at one of many roadside overlooks can be a richly rewarding experience!

You won't believe just how affordable a weekend in the Gunks can be!  Located just minutes from the ridge, the Hudson Valley Resort and Spa offers climbers and their families resort  accommodations at “rock bottom” prices.

With a European health spa, fitness center, game room, indoor & outdoor pools, tennis & basketball courts, and a championship 18-hole golf course on site, the Hudson Valley Resort truly has something for everyone.  Give us a call today, and we'll help make the most of your stay.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

3 Essential Keys for Annihilating Stress

The hectic day-to-day hustle of modern living can lead to setbacks in our personal health and well-being.  It’s no wonder: stress can wreak havoc on your body as well as your mind.

The key to a healthier, happier lifestyle is learning to control stress before stress controls you.  While there are a myriad of ways to deal with stress, here are three key solutions to help you annihilate stress and enjoy a more peaceful way of life.

Exercise Regularly.  Studies show that regular exercise is a sure-fire stress killer. Just 30-60 minutes of exercise performed just three times a week will greatly reduce stress, release muscle tension, and help you feel awesome! Exercise produces endorphins in the brain which create a sense of well-being and happiness, so it’s the perfect option.

Eat for Wellness.  A healthy, balanced diet is another way to help annihilate stress.  Eating fatty, low quality meals is not conducive health and wellness; you are what you eat, so prepare well-balanced meals and you'll feel well balanced, too.  Avoid fast-foods and incorporate fresh, local ingredients whenever possible.

Visit the Spa.  With stress-related illness on the rise, it’s more important than ever to find time for ourselves.  A visit to a Hudson Valley spa can provide peace and relaxation while reducing stress to help you enjoy a healthier, happier life.
The Spa at Hudson Valley Resort offers a full menu of massage therapies to help manage stress as well as an array of amenities designed to help you relax and rejuvenate. Because our guests enjoy complimentary use of the Jacuzzi, sauna, & steam rooms, glass enclosed fitness centers, crystal clear swimming pools and more, the Hudson Valley Resort & Spa is the perfect place to incorporate these 3 keys for annihilating stress for healthier, happier lifestyle.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Celebrate Summer: Explore the Outdoors

Summer is in full swing and we’re getting out to explore the outdoors this season with some exciting Hudson Valley hiking!  With so many unique opportunities for outdoor adventure just minutes away, the Hudson Valley Resort is the perfect base-camp for hiking & mountain biking in the Shawangunk and Catskill Mountains.

You’ll find five exceptional forest preserves within easy reach of the resort which offer hundreds of miles of scenic trails for hiking and biking through some of the most unique natural landscapes in the Northeast.

Visitors will find a myriad of exciting trails to explore, each with its own allure.  This favorite woodland hike allows visitors to explore some of the most interesting and beautiful features of Minnewaska State Park.

Mossy Glen/Blueberry Run/Castle Point Carriageway Loop
(9 mile loop hike, Moderate Difficulty.  Allow 5.5 Hours)

The Shawangunks are known for their varying terrain and unique micro-habitats, so it can be difficult to experience all they have to offer in just one visit.  The little known Mossy Glen / Blueberry Run / Castle Point Carriageway loop takes hikers on an exhilarating whirlwind tour of the park.

Hudson Valley Hiking: Minnewaska
The hike begins on the Mossy Glen footpath, accessable via the Awosting parking lot.  You’ll walk along the cool Glen through a silent forest of hemlock and mountain laurel, crossing and then following the golden Peter’s Kill brook.  Be sure to enjoy the secluded wading pools as you continue through the shady glades.

Hudson Valley Hiking: Minnewaska Resort
With little warning you’ll emerge from the forest and find yourself crossing a brilliant white exposure of bedrock.  This is an extraordinary example of the famous Minnewaska barrens: a stark, alien landscape punctuated with scrub pine and blueberries.

Hudson Valley Hiking: Mohonk Resort
Now the Peter’s Kill cuts it’s way gently across the exposed bedrock, babbling softly as it flows.  Continue along the trail, past small waterfalls and inviting wading pools before entering a dense and shady rhododendron  thicket.  The blueberry run trail is just ahead.

Hudson Valley Hiking: Minnewaska
You'll emerge from the thicket suddenly to find yourself standing in another slab barren.  Turn left and follow the Blueberry Run footpath.  This moderate ascent will lead you steadily up the ridge through endless wild blueberry bushes, dwarf pitch pine, and stands of mature mountain laurel.

Hudson Valley Hikers
As you gain elevation, you begin to catch glimpses of the park’s famous ridgeline cliffs, standing in stark contrast to the blue sky.  Now you emerge on a massive rock slab offering a stunning northern view of the Catskills which will leave you breathless.  Don’t be fooled: the best is yet to come.

Minnewaska Ridge Resort
Continue along the Blueberry Run to an open rock ledge at the highest point on the trail, and the Castle Point Carriageway is just ahead.  Turn left onto the Carriageway, and you’ll find yourself emerging at Castle Point, a steep promitory with astonishing panoramic views.

Hiker on Minnewaska Ridge
From here you can see the majesty of the Shawangunks and the Hudson Valley:  Lake Awosting is below, Sam's Point may be seen looking to the southwest, Hamilton Point is ahead, and the sheer cliffs of Gertrude’s Nose may be seen to the east across the dramatic Palmaghatt Ravine.

Hiking Minnewaska Park
Turning right back onto the carriageway, you’ll descend gradually along the ridge, with intermittent viewpoints from along the ledge affording gorgeous views of the ravine and the face of Gertrude’s Nose.  Continue to Kempton Ledge and enjoy the view.

Lake Minnewaska with Hiking
Soon, you’ll reach  Lake Minnewaska, a crystal clear high-altitude glacier carved lake with dramatic white cliffs rising in sharp contrast to the brilliant sapphire water.  Swimming is allowed in season, and you’ll be thankful for the opportunity to refresh yourself after the long hike.

Hiking at Minnewaska in Hudson Valley
From here, you’ll follow the scenic Sunset Carriageway a short distance back to the gatehouse.  If you have time for a short side excursion before departing, turn right before the gatehouse for a quick walk to Awosting Falls, one of the most impressive and iconic images in the park.

The Hudson Valley Resort & Spa is just minutes from Minnewaska State park and other popular Hudson Valley hiking & mountain biking areas.  The Mononk Preserve, Sundown Wild Forest, Sam's Point Preserve and the Catskill Forest Preserve are all within easy reach, and each offers visitors exciting opportunities for outdoor recreation.

After a long day on the trail, there's nothing better than a relaxing visit to the spa, and our guests enjoy the use of our Jacuzzi, sauna and steam rooms as well as our beautiful indoor and outdoor pools!  With a fitness center, tennis and basketball, and a gorgeous 18-hole golf course on site, the Hudson Valley Resort is the perfect place to stay while exploring the Hudson Valley.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Upstate Escapes: Summer Events and Attractions

Summer is in full swing and travel to the Hudson Valley Catskills is really starting to heat up. With the region's endless opportunities for outdoor adventure, an exciting lineup of fairs and cultural festivals, and a thriving farm-to-table and craft beverage movement it’s no wonder so many people escape to the Hudson Valley each summer. 

Outdoor Adventure

Immortalized by the masterpiece landscapes of Hudson River School painters, the epic untamed beauty of the Hudson Valley Catskills offers endless opportunities for outdoor adventure and exploration.

Winding through an unspoiled natural wilderness, the extensive hiking trails  and waterways of the Catskill State Park bring the traveler through serene forests, over cool, clear creeks and up to majestic views so beautiful they inspired an art movement.

The nearby Shawangunk Ridge is a hiking and climbing mecca, and you can experience its beauty at Minnewaska State Park Preserve.  Recognized by The Nature Conservancy as “One of the Last Great Places”, Minnewaska is famous for it’s stunning white cliffs, sapphire blue sky-lakes and unique ecosystem.  It definitely deserves to be on your summer "to do" list.
Canoeing, mountain biking, kayaking, fishing, golfing- the Hudson Valley has something to offer everyone.  Other popular summer-time activities in the region include skydiving, river tubing, hang-gliding, and more!  

Fairs and Festivals

Home to countless fairs, festivals, and cultural events throughout the summer, there’s always something exciting going on in the Hudson Valley.  

Visitors have been flocking to the Ulster County Fair for more than 125 years, and it’s no surprise. There’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned country fair to celebrate the summer!  Featuring rides, games, agricultural exhibits, local crafts and specialties, musical events and entertainment, the Ulster County fair is fun for all!

America's longest running continuous summer chamber music series has been pleasing audiences since 1916, and this year is heating up to be their most exciting season yet! Maverick Concerts invites you to celebrate 100 years of glorious music performed and heard in the historic 1916 concert hall which has echoed in the surrounding woods for visitors to enjoy.  

Growing in popularity each year, the Hudson Valley Rib Fest is the regions largest and most unique BBQ food festival for whole family!  Featuring live music, demonstrations, and of course- the best BBQ ribs in the North East, it’s a two day summer event which is sure to have you coming back for more.

Farm to Table

A recent shift in consumer awareness towards healthier and more sustainable food options has put the Hudson Valley in the spotlight as more and more people are learning what our local growers have known for years- the secret to great food is fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

From fruits & vegetables to honey and maple syrup, artisan breads to small-batch cheeses, the Hudson Valley is producing some of the finest culinary delights on the market today.

Many local farms are inviting people to experience the farm-to-table movement hands-on. Nearby Kelder’s Farm offers educational events, fun for kids, and pick-your-own fruits and veggies allowing visitors a greater appreciation of Hudson Valley produce.
Open rain or shine, the Ellenville Farmers' Market is a small, family friendly market featuring fresh locally grown produce and regional products from Hudson Valley growers.  Live music, monthly visits from Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardeners, kids activities, cooking classes and more are offered to visitors each week.

Looking to quench your thirst?  The Hudson Valley is home to a thriving winemaking, brewing, distilling, and craft cider-making culture which is redefining the American drinks scene.  Explore the Shawangunk Wine Trail for tastings at 14 local wineries, or stop in any number of local craft beverage producers for demonstrations, tours and tastings. 
Whether you're visiting one of the regions many farmer’s markets, picking your own fruits and vegetables right from the vine, or taking time to savor the flavor of a craft beverage- visitors to the Hudson Valley are sure to the taste the difference.

Summer Escapes

Each summer, hundreds of thousands of visitors escape to the Hudson Valley for outdoor adventure, to experience the  fairs and cultural festivals, and to enjoy the region’s bounty, and The Hudson Valley Resort & Spa is at the center of it all!  Ideally nestled in the heart of the Shawangunk Mountains and surrounded by gorgeous Catskill views, the Hudson Valley Resort is within easy distance to the best summer Hudson Valley attractions

Offering guests clean, comfortable accommodations with world-class mountain views, the Hudson Valley Resort & Spa features a beautiful 18-hole championship golf course, a full service European Health Spa, and more!  Tennis and basketball courts, fitness and arcade centers, and a spacious conference center make the Hudson Valley Resort the ideal choice for your Hudson Valley Getaway.

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