Bushwhacking the Catskills!

In my never ending (but soon to be completed) quest to hike all the 3500 peaks in the glorious Catskill Forest Preserve…my excellent friend Ms. Liz Levine and I decided to hire the amazing Jeff Vincent, a recent AT thru hiker who just started Catskill Mountain Wild (check out his website by simply clicking on our pic with him CatskillMountainWild.com)   Jeff is available to guide folks on any adventure of their choice…hike, fish, camp, paddle.  He is a local and knows these mountains like the back of his hand!  Liz and I had done a couple of the bushwhack hikes on our own but realized we had just been super lucky to find the top and the canister which you must sign.  Let me back up…of the 35 peaks about 10 of them are bushwhack hikes…meaning NO marked trail…and at the top you need to find the canister and sign the book.  After our successful sign in on top of Friday mountain…we got lost coming back down…but eventually found our way back to the car.  Yes, we had compasses, maps, etc….we realized we just didn’t know how to use them properly.  Enter…Jeff Vincent!!  Jeff took us out on the North Dome/Sherrill bushwhack and guided us to the top of both while also patiently teaching us how to REALLY use a compass and map!  What an amazing journey!


I was so inspired and impressed with Jeff’s expertise we have started discussions about offering packages to our guests.  Snowshoe excursions, bushwhacks and fishing trips.   One I am particularly excited about…includes backpacking from a tbd start to Echo Lake where we would do an overnight then hike the next morning down Overlook and end the second night at the Woodstock Inn on the Millstream with a fabulous dinner in Woodstock.   Check out Jeff’s website by simply clicking on our picture with him!

Stay tuned…..






yours truly mimicking the strong tree arm that protruded from the side of the mountain we bushwhacked

Jeff Vincent of Catskill Mountain Wild

Jeff Vincent of Catskill Mountain Wild, Liz Levine, et moi

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You’re crazy if you don’t hike in the Catskills in the Fall!

images-2There are so many amazing, beautiful trails right here in Woodstock, and venturing into the larger backyard of the Catskills is simply wondrous. It’s always awe-inspiring to see the power of nature in action; watching flowers and streams and right now especially, the trees, change and adapt.

Fall is always a balancing act. It brings those melancholy moments thinking of passing time and impending cold, but it also brings these rapturous, beautiful sun-filled, crisp days. They beckon us outdoors as adamantly as our childhood friends would; it truly is time to come out and play.

To that end, technology has caught up with many adventures and we just have to share this web site that lists all kinds of outdoor adventures in Ulster County. Hiking, bicycling, birding, U-picks. You name it, this site lists it. Just go to the legend button at the stop of the site and explore away! This is a great cross-reference resource and we’re thrilled to share it with guests.

One of the most popular trails in Woodstock is Overlook Mountain. images-1Our friends at Catskill Mountaineer have compiled everything you want to know about this 5-mile hike to the fire tower. (And this is their picture of the ruins!) The truly hardy can go the full hike to Echo Lake, but leave plenty of time! Overlook is right in town, makes for a lovely excursion and the view will leave you breathless – both for it’s beauty and for that last quarter mile. But all well worth it.

The nearby Ashokan Reservoir has a well-maintained paved trail that offers runners, walkers – even those with strollers – and bicyclists, some great views and it’s always amazing to think that all that water will wind up in a New York City apartment – without filtration! In addition to the reservoir info, Trailkeeper list many other Catskill sites representing a variety of distances and difficulties.

And Karen, an avid hiker, is always an amazing source of knowledge about various trails and summits throughout the Catskills. It’s where she spends most of her days off, and once you see the sights, you’ll understand why. Scenery on the fall hikes is ever-changing. Literally, the leaf colors on an out and back path can change during one hike! But although ever-changing, the beauty is constant.

And remember, relaxing at the Inn is always the perfect antidote for a rigorous hike. The most important thing is to enjoy the time outdoors this Fall – it will be a whole year until you can have this experience again.



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Embracing the end of summer

Don’t know how the heck it’s happened. I feel as if some ghost must have fast forwarded the calendar. Is it REALLY the end of August? The summer is such a special time hkarenhikesummerere in the Catskills and this year Woodstock has been so busy and fun-filled.
The music options have been legendary – right from the opening days of Mountain Jam in June through tonight’s Kate Pierson performance at the Byrdcliffe Barn.  It never ceases to amaze our guests – and us! – how much talent resides right here in the community. Maverick’s centennial season has been appropriately celebrated by locals and visitors alike – imagine 100 years of music in the woods! How magical.
And when Karen went hiking this week on a well-deserved day off she sent back these lovely images. Too soon these mountains will be transforming into a horizon of color, a visual testimony to the time that passes us all by too fast.
Meantime,  enjoy the weekend and the memories you’ll make. They’ll keep you smiling and warm, even through the gray days of February.
Now, I need to go back and look at that calendar one more time!


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The local dining scene in Woodstock village

When it comes to food, fresh and delicious reigns in Woodstock and throughout the Hudson Valley. We have our share of both celebrity chefs and special, small dining establishments. The ones within the village are within walking distance of the Inn and offer everything from five star dining to pizza slices

Here are some of our favs – and a pic to get your taste buds going:



Joshuas: Delicious Mediterranean cuisine. Must haves include the falafels, and the coffee bar upstairs is the best for a mid-afternoon caffeine fix. $$





Shindig:  A menu that changes with the seasons, locally sourced and breakfast until 3 p.m. – Need we say more? $$





Yum Yum Noodle Bar: Noodles of every mix, match and combination and martinis. Life is good. $-$$




Catskill Mountain Pizza – Perfect solution for the family that’s about to get hangry. Great patio seating, large pie feeds the family. And the homemade gelato? Delish. Perfect summer treat. $




oOriole 9 – If you want to see where the locals eat, swing by Oriole 9z. The menu is varied, the staff is helpful and the intimate setting perfect for breakfast or lunch. $$



cucina heirloom tomato, fetaCucina’s quality, fresh food makes for an amazing culinary experience, however, the communal tables lend to a social experience as well. It’s often credited for the best of both worlds. $$$




Breadbreads Alone for the best in bagels, bakery goods and fresh sandwiches and breakfast treats, Bread Alone is the place to stop. And don’t forget their java options – Must haves for early morning outings. $-$$

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Shhh – we’re sharing summer’s must do list…

One of the greatest things about living in Woodstock is, well, living in Woodstock. As we embrace the pleasures of summer we’d like to share our 10 favorite summer treats of Woodstock. And remember take some video as you explore – it could win you a free night at the Inn. So here they are, in no particular order – except #1. Enjoy.

Mower’s Market – Even if you aren’t looking for that hard to find, just right, one-of-a-kind momento, spend your Saturday strolling around, talking to vendors and looking at an eclectic gathering of people and goods.

Sunday drummers circle – Surround yourself with aging hippies, enthusiastic toddlers and just funky folks banging away at the Village Green. To fully get in the spirit pick up an extra drum lying about and join in.

Gallery hopping – With almost a dozen art galleries right within Woodstock proper, you’ll encounter everything from classic painting to abstract sculpture.

Golfing at dusk – Nothing like watching the shadows lengthen, feeling the air cool down and hitting a straight drive along the green fairways of the Woodstock Golf Course. (Well, maybe having that straight drive actually land in the cup would make it better, but being in the moment on the course is pretty darn swell.)

Jane’s Ice Cream. It’s summer. It’s their 30th birthday. Indulge.

Thorn Preserve – This area off John Joy Road is a natural sanctuary for checkerspot butterflies and other beautiful flora and fauna. And Woodstock Land Conservancy offers guided hikes throughout summer.

Drive to Big Pink. It may not be 1968, but it is where The Band worked on their transformative album and, yes, it’s still pink. The currenUnknownt owners respect the legacy of their home. To find out more visit bigpinkbasement.com

Maverick Concerts – Woodstock and music go hand in hand, so it really shouldn’t be a surprise that there’s a crafted wooden structure amid the woods.that’s been hosting lovely outdoor summer concerts for a century now. Yet, it’s still a magical place to listen, and the afternoon family series is fun for all ages.

KTD Monastery – Visiting this impressive, massive, spiritually-amazing Buddhist Temple is always a treat. But on Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. there’s a free guided tour and on Saturday at 2 pm there’s a free intro to meditation class offered. Bliss.

Our stream – Refreshing; mesmerizing; relaxing. Grab o2ca75488-5d70-40d3-9fa0-15ed99799022ne of our big plushy beach towels, settle in, soak up the sun and nature and beauty. Ahhhhh, life is good



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Serious about…bragging!



Quite an odd picture I know…but the story behind it is a great one…I promise!  We are not only serious about laundry here at the Woodstock Inn….we are serious about providing our guests with the best experience we can possibly create.  A lot of people here work above and beyond the call of duty day in and day out to make this Inn the wonderful place it is today.  If you have been to the Woodstock Inn on the Millstream recently you may have noticed in your standard room some changes….like a hand made walnut desk (from local artist/furniture maker Andrew Gray), a flat screen TV, a fresh coat of paint and a newly designed closet for all your belongings.  You may have also noticed our newest “addition”  which houses our state of the art laundry room!  I joked quite a bit this winter as it was being built telling all who inquired that it may not be that exciting for them…but boy…it is a godsend to this Innkeeper and her staff.

Our improvements are sometimes subtle….sometimes obvious….the key word being improvements.  The inn is run…yes, as a business…but it is not just about the almighty $….it is also about you…and me….and the cleaning staff, the painter, the gardener,  the community, and yes…dare I say it…the world.    We look at the small picture …but we also look at the big one and it helps to put the right kind of perspective on how to run this business.  And so you see loving, caring details all around.   You see a staff that has been here for many, many years…coming back day after day to proudly clean your room.   You may also see some mistakes …alas…no one is perfect…but the relief is that you can simply tell us…and 10 times out of 10 something will be done about it!

We had outgrown our old beloved laundry room and so Tom, the owner,  built a brand new one to house the commercial washers and dryers that we needed.  He listens…to his guests and his staff and always makes an informed decision.  You talk…we listen and when we can action immediately follows.  I am proud to work here…and that has been true now for 20 years!  Mr. Bullard inspires the best in all of us and it shows.   Take for instance the time Barbara came in at 8am BEFORE her other job to help out cleaning when I was short staffed one day, or take the fact that Rita has never missed a day of work, never been late or called in sick,  or that Marilla, Ariana, Ana, Kianu, Thomas, and Jackie perform their jobs with a sense of loyalty and pride…every day!  Angela goes above and beyond each week that she is here…helping with whatever is needed..including letting my “kids” out for some fresh air if I have been gone too long.   And let us not forget the amazing women behind the scenes… in the engine room…Lorrie and Theresa without whom I truly would be lost ….and perhaps you don’t know it…but you would be too!   The beauty of this place is not just the gardens and buildings…but the love that each and every one of us feels for this little bit of paradise and how that love manifests through our work.  The ol’ trickle down theory works with LOVE!




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Spring’s magic now appearing in Woodstock

curledfernsAfter this long, long winter – even for those of us who love winter – this Spring is a treasured gift. Each bud, each bloom seems to be a reminder of the beauty and magic of life. It’s as if the gardens are a 3-D painting, with colors magically appearing, where the canvas before was simply gray. What a gift to watch this literally unfurl before us. In just one week, our ferns went from newly sprouting to bright green blooming! Yes, we’re biased, but the Hudson Valley’s natural beauty simply can’t be beat. fernopenToo often we take for granted that rolling Catskill Mountains embrace our community, that we have a river that not only was instrumental in this country’s development, but that has amazingly come back to life following years of defilement and abuse. Now, the Hudson is a wonderful playground for all of us, cleaned up because passionate people weren’t willing to sit back and watch it die. From Pete Seeger’s insightful Clearwater effort, to today’s many environmental groups such as Catskill Mountainkeepers, our water is finally getting the respect it deserves and we are all the richer for it. Its appeal is a blue thread that ties the Hudson Valley communities together during these warm months.

And in Woodstock, the town is abuzz. So many exciting concerts, shows and exhibits are happening. Great new restaurants have opened and it’s just a great time to be here. Happy Spring! Happy Friday!


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Win a night at the Inn

This year we’re pleased to announce a new feature for guests: a video contest. In past years we’ve enjoyed your fantastic photos, but this year we’re going for the action. Submit up to a two-minute video of your time in Woodstock – action packed, slow-paced, dancing, meditating. Whatever it is you love about your time here, we want to see it – and share it with all our guests.

Winners and other selected entries may be posted to the Inn’s You Tube, Facebook or Google Plus pages, as well as featured on our web site. To be able to capture all of the seasons, we’re going to run this contest through Nov. 30. The winning entry by our judges will receive a complimentary night at the Inn, second and third place will receive gift certificates of $125 and $75 respectively. There will also be a people’s choice award, which will receive a bag of goodies from the Inn. And we’ll be sending out lots of swag and other cool stuff, so get filming. (Remember, we are a community of artists – respect copyright laws!)

Submit entries as an attachment to wimillstream@gmail.com before midnight Nov. 30, 2015. In the body of the email please include the dates you stayed at the Inn and the name of the reservation, as well as any interesting background insights you want to share about the video.

Pass the popcorn and go roll ’em.

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Travelling the breadth of extremities…

I was driving home today from my solo hike up Windham high peak and this line from Joni Mitchell’s “Hejira” bounded out of my speakers.  Today it was loaded with meaning for me.  I set out today to bag another peak in my quest to join the Catskill 3500 club.

But today was very different from any other
solo winter trek I have done as I had decided
to dedicate it to Kate Matrosova.  Since
her untimely death climbing the Presidential Peaks on 2.15.15 I have obsessively read about her trek that day.

Almost every account reiterates how crazy,
stupid, inexperienced she must have been to set out that day.  The weather can change in a
second up on that ridge and kill you quickly.  We all know this to be true.  I’m sure Kate Matrosova knew this to be true…but rather than focus on how “crazy”
she was I wanted to honor her spirit and unflinching sense of bravery and adventure by climbing today and writing this blog.

I set out at 10 am but with a lot more caution and preparedness than
usual.  Granted I was not climbing 6000 feet today in 100 mph winds but as I’ve learned shit can happen and climbing up to 3600 in teens can just as easily kill you if you are not prepared.  I’ll admit it.  I was nervous.  Many thoughts ran through
my mind that normally never do…like hey, Karen…you have a
heart condition, or you are 52…or what if you pass out..and on and on…so many thoughts
that I could just as easily have talked myself out of the hike.  I could have “stuck to some straighter line” as Joni puts it.

But I didn’t….and I won’t….and I hope to climb Mount Washington one day as well because that is who I am.  That’s what makes me tick.  I look at Kate’s life as
yes …tragically short but so incredibly full.

We all take chances everyday of our lives…some just take greater ones than others because their spirit beckons them to do so.

As I approached the summit I saw a figure ahead of me.  I caught up to John
Dice a 79 year old Catskill Mtn 3500er who was out hiking for fun in the gorgeous weather.  It put the hugest smile on my face and  I kept it all the way down.

Today instead of running down to see how fast I could do the hike I decided to walk down and take in the beauty of this cold winter day.  The sounds, the sights all of it.  I was thinking a lot about Kate when I looked down and saw the heart in the snow (I had missed it on the way up) More smiles and tears.  I get what drove Kate Matrosova to solo hike that day and all the other days she went out there.

For some …to simply not take the risk is a death.
We have to challenge ourselves mentally,  spiritually and physically and yes, sometimes
it can go too far.  But we know that and we take the chance anyway  …we don’t expect to be
rescued.  Someone who is experienced enough knows that ultimately  it’s up to them and they make their choices accordingly, everything from what gear & clothing to take to whether they should even venture out.

Enough of the finger wagging at Ms. Matrosova …her short 32 years here on planet earth were in my opinion lived incredibly. Myself, I only started living at 32 when I first tried to
quit smoking and started running and hiking in the forest in order to attain that goal.

I am most alive when I am in the forest and so on my days off
that’s where you’ll find me and yes…usually alone. I know I take a chance each and every time I do it but I know the internal rewards I reap.

And so I hope like John, who I met on Windham today, heartphoto(2)photo(3)photothat at 79 I’ll still be
taking chances and climbing mountains.  Rest in peace Kate Matrosova.



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