Sure, New York City always seems to get all the love but the rest of New York, especially the Catskill Mountains, really deserves some attention and love from those who love nature. In fact, the Catskills have always been the escape of choice for New Yorkers who need to get out of the city and out into the best of Mother Nature.
There are few places in the Northeast that offer a more dynamic mix of soaring vistas filled with lush forests and rushing rivers quite like the Catskills. Oh, and it just so happens to offer some incredible driving roads too!
Ready to dive into the best scenic drives in the New York Catskills? Let’s do it.
The Big Loop
If you have the time for a full day of driving and exploring, traveling the heart of the Catskills on the many meandering highways and back roads between Hunter and Hancock is a fantastic way to spend a day. The best part of the Catskills is the fact that you can just get lost and explore, yet always end up back on the road home. It encourages you to explore, enjoy the landscape and forget that you’re a few hours from the metropolis of New York City.
Take off from Hunter Mountain Resort, around the Big Indian Wilderness and Slide Mountain wilderness to the Catskills Scenic Byway, which follows Highway 28 to then on to Route 30 along the Pepacton Reservoir, one of the largest in the Catskills. Stop in the quaint mountain hamlet of Downsville, and admire the area’s many wood bridges that crisscross rivers and creeks.
Transition to Highway 97 and head back towards Hunter Mountain towards Roscoe and its iconic, old-school diner for lunch and chat with friends. Once you’re done, head out on Highway 17 and take Highway 55 from Liberty until you reach the Roundout Reservoir, there you’ll take a quick detour so you can enjoy the long way round the Roundout and some of the area’s great switchback road sections.
The next stop along the way is the iconic Peekamoose Blue Hole, a must-see in the area. This local attraction offers pristine, blue waters that flow from Rondout Creek for an epic swimming hole during the hottest summer months. Keep on Highway 28 until you reach Highway 42, which peels North towards Highway 23 and crosses the Rip Van Winkle bridge as well as the iconic Hudson River.
The last stop on this gangbusters tour of the Catskills is the Five State Lookout where you can see the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the Green Mountains of Vermont, the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts, the Helderberg Mountains of New York, and the Connecticut Valley all from one vantage point.
This route is the ultimate Catskills experience and will offer drivers beautiful roads, and if you happen to visit in the fall, you’ll see some of the most incredible foliage imaginable.
Catskills Scenic Byway to NY-10 Loop
For a solid half-day drive that will take you across some of the most iconic landscapes in the Catskills, you can’t miss the Catskills Scenic Byway / NY-10 loop.
Starting off in Hunter, connect with Highway 28 and enjoy a short but impactful drive through the Slide Mountain Wilderness, Indian Head Wilderness, Big Indian Wilderness, Shandaken Wild Forest, and Hunter-west Kill Wilderness. Keep on Highway 30 at the split, towards Pepacton Reservoir for some seriously twisty and engaging sections along the way. You’ll brush with the border of Pennsylvania before you head north to catch Highway 10 on the return route. Highway 10 is a joy to behold as it flows along the Delaware River past Catskill Mountain towns like Delhi, Bloomville, and Stanford.
For fall foliage viewing options, this route is one of the absolute best you can take since it rolls through some of the scenic hills of the Catskills. For ultimate fall viewing options, try to shoot for around the second week of October and enjoy some other fall activities like a cider at Wayside Cider in Delhi to one of the area’s many Oktoberfest or harvest celebrations.
This route has inspired countless artists and visionaries, and after taking a few corners along this incredible route, we think you’ll see why.
The Greatest Hits
If you only have a short time to visit and explore the Catskills, the 92-mile loop from Hunter Mountain to Grahamsville and back through Lexington is a must for visitors to the region.
Leaving Hunter Mountain, head down towards the Catskills Scenic Byway on Highway 214 to the scenic Hamlet of Phoenicia, where you and your travel companions can cruise through antique malls or perhaps explore the vast Woodlands State Park. Next, cruise down Highway 28 towards Grahamsville and don’t forget to check out the Peekamoose Blue Hole in the summertime for a quick tip. In Grahamsville, you’ll catch old Highway 47 and wind your way past cottages, resorts and camps that welcome visitors from both locally and far away.
In Shandaken, catch Highway 42 and wind past some of the highest points in the Catskills like Halcott Mountain and onto iconic Highway 23 in Lexington where explorers can venture into the Hunter-West Kill Windlerness Area for some serious mountain trekking. Before you know it, you’ll be back at Hunter Mountain lunch and cocktail.
At around 2.5 hours, this journey packs in plenty of punch in a small period of time.
The Catskills and Supercars Go Hand In Hand
Be it the peak of fall colors or the heat of summer, there are few things more invigorating than a drive through the bristling Catskill Mountains.
The only thing better than the drive itself is what you’re behind the wheel of and at Open Road, we want to make the experience perfect by offering you seat time in a bonafide supercar. Our guide drives give you the opportunity to drive vehicles from Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini and more on some of the most glorious pieces of tarmac in the country. Beautiful mountain vistas, stunning fall foliage, iconic covered bridges and wailing supercars? Can you think of a better way to see the Catskills? Neither can we.
See you on the road!