Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cannonsville Recreational Boating - give it a paddle

New York State’s Western Catskills  have long been a place for those who know the secrets of its waters: the best fly-fishing spots, early season high water kayaking on the rivers, fishing from canoes on the reservoirs. What had been lacking are large bodies of water for recreational use.  That changed in 2009 when the New York City Department of Environmental Protection opened up of  most of the Cannonsville Reservoir for recreational kayaking, canoeing, sculls, and for small sailboats, like Sunfish. The Cannonsville is western-most reservoir, and runs from south of Walton west and south towards Deposit and Hancock.   Last year almost 200 people went through the process of getting a permit and steam cleaning their boats – and got to paddle on these pristine waters. 

Two steps are required to access the Cannonsville.  First the boater will need a DEP Access Permit, which you can get online at or at local sports stores. Second is the Recreational Boat Tag, which you get once your boat has been steam cleaned. All craft must be steam cleaned prior to being placed on the water and permits affixed to the boats. Trailers are not allowed in the water and there is no camping at these sites. 

The NYC DEP has nine launch sites: Roods Creek, Mormon Hollow, Dry Brook, Speedwell, Patterson, Apex, Fish Brook Beers Brook, and Dryden Brook all listed with GPS coordinates on the free brochure.

Boat Cleaning
Five  boat cleaning businesses will be in operation in the towns surrounding the reservoir – Downsville, Deposit, Trout Creek and Walton and each charges their own rate. The cleaning process will take about 20 minutes per boat, so make sure you give yourself enough time if you have a few boats.   These vendors will  issue you Recreational Boat Tag good for 1-7 days during which your boat must stay on NYC DEP lands. When you visit these locations, please remember to support these local vendors and purchase your supplies from them. For those wishing to obtain a full-season pass, steam cleaning services will be provided by the DEP Downsville Operation’s office located on NYS Route 30. Call 607-363-7009 to schedule an appointment.

Boat Rentals
Here are a few options for renting boats – though you’ll still need to have the boat steam cleaned.  Als Sport Store in Downsville will be renting out canoes and kayaks - call them at 607-326-3500 or visit  Catskill Outfitters in Walton will be renting kayaks and canoes – call them at 607-865-8827 or visit Border Water Outfitters in Hancock will be renting canoes and they can be reached at 607-637-4296 or at  Catskill Outback Adventures has kayaks and canoes to rent out to the public, complete with car-top accessories for transporting the boat. Call them for more info at 845-254-9888 or visit their website at

Access is from sunrise to sunset and will run from Memorial Day weekend to Columbus weekend.  The Delaware County tourism office is providing a brochure outlining all the information you need to know on the rules and regulations for the Cannonsville. You can receive a copy by calling 866-775-4425 and leaving your name and address or by emailing your request to  You can download the brochure on the tourism website  

This is a three year pilot program running from 2009 – 2011, after which the City will assess the benefits and local impact and determine whether to keep it open or possibly expand it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How To Pack For A Catskills Vacation

A few things you may not know, that you need to know, if you want a truly great vacation experience in our neck of the woods.

Bring a light sweater or long sleeves when you go out at night, even if it's been a hot summer day. Our evenings are always cooler than you'd expect. There's a nice breeze - it's a double benefit - it keeps the bugs away.

Hiking in shorts is what most folks think they should wear in the summer. We do it sometimes - but always regret it when we come back scratched up from the wild raspberry and blackberry brambles we encounter along the way. It's all good if you're hiking when the berries are ripening!!

And hiking shoes.  No sneakers please. Our moutains are rocky and there are roots and fallen branches. You need your ankle support. Let's hope you'll never twist an ankle but you need to be able to walk out as cell phones don't have great coverage here and in the Catskill Park.

Don't bring skinny heels, especially if you're coming here for a wedding. They're all held on lawns and ours can be a little "punky" - meaning your heels will sink right in.  Outside of villages, we don't have lots of sidewalks - more along the lines of gravel or stone paths leading to houses. Some events have port-a-johns and, well, it's just easier to go in and out of one in comfy shoes.

So what are we really saying?  It's a relaxed, comfortable, rugged, and quirky kind of place you'll be coming to experience. 

A this tip is just to make sure you experience our country vibe completely. If you're on a slow back road small village street,wave to folks when you drive past them. We do it all the time. Sometimes we know them. Sometimes we don't. But it always makes everyone feel good.