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Old 04-26-2013, 12:39 PM   #1
l'oiseau
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Question Catskills vs. Adirondacks

Not sure where to ask this but I've never been to the Catskills and I was wondering how it compares to the 'dacks?

What are some good places to go? Seems like it is more suited to hiking and climbing than paddling, but that is just my observation from looking at maps... I don't really know?
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Old 04-26-2013, 02:10 PM   #2
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The hiking, climbing and skiing is excellent in the Catskills, but there isn't much paddling. I spend a lot more time in the Catskills than the Adirondacks, given that they're much closer to me.

Many of the waterways in the Catskills are dammed for large, closed (or limited-access) reservoirs. These feed into New York City for the most part. The other creeks tend to be too small for paddling. One good option is the Delaware River outside the park boundaries starting in Hancock NY. Esopus Creek and some other creeks are navigable as well. "Kayaker's Guide to the Hudson River Valley" cover the paddling options quite well.

The DEC campgrounds are often on pretty mountain lakes and paddling is allowed. Where I've camped the lake outlets don't have sufficient water flow for kayaks/canoes.

There is a NG map for the Catskills, like for the Adirondacks. Most hikers prefer the maps from the New York New Jersey Trail Conference, which also organizes the volunteers who maintain many of the trails.

Like the Adirondacks, the Catskills have their highest peaks to the east and mellower terrain to the west. The areas around North-South Lakes are the most popular, and crowded.
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Old 04-26-2013, 02:30 PM   #3
Bill I.
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I spent a bit of time in the Catskills a few years ago, and these were the general comparisons that I came away with from that experience:
  1. The Adirondacks have far and away more diversity in terrain: mountains, wetlands, lakes, wild streams. In the Catskills, the mountains are well preserved but nearly all of the valleys are developed.
  2. The Catskills have a higher road density, and these roads tend to wander relatively farther up the mountainsides than in the Adirondacks. This means that the wild spaces are smaller, and the walking distances are shorter. When you climb a mountain in the Catskills, you rarely have to make an "approach."
  3. The Adirondacks are peaked, the Catskills are domed. Many views down there are maintained -- i.e. someone cuts the brush to prevent it from growing in.
  4. The trail system in the Catskills makes it much easier to plan loops and traverses than in the Adirondacks, where trails are more likely to be dead ends.
  5. The Catskills have less of a cultural identity than the Adirondacks. Whereas almost every town in the Adirondacks have quaint country stores filled with Adirondack-themed books and souvenirs, I could find no such thing in the Catskills.
  6. Trails in the Catskills tend to be drier. Mud is less of an issue down there.
  7. Trailless peaks really are trailless in the Catskills. There are few herd paths.

Last edited by Bill I.; 04-26-2013 at 02:51 PM..
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Old 04-26-2013, 05:14 PM   #4
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Some of the NYC resevoirs are now opened for paddling. I did the pepacton and schoharie last summer. I think the nerversink may also be open, I think more are opening this summer. You need to download a permit from the DEC (free). You also need to get your boat steam cleaned at a DEC designated vendor and get a sticker for your boat. If you leave your boat at one of the resevoirs, one steaming is all you need. If you go from resevoir to resevoir or don't leave your boat, you need to pay each time. Cost me $16 a pop last summer.
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Old 04-26-2013, 07:05 PM   #5
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Catskills vs. Adirondacks?
I would definitely say that the Catskills are the underdog...
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Old 04-26-2013, 07:44 PM   #6
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The Catskills don't have the same paddling opportunities as the Adirondacks especially with ponds and lakes. I've paddled the Beaverkill, Lower Willowemoc, The East Branch of Delaware below the reservoir, West Branch of the Delaware above/below the reservoir and the Neversink. As far as I know, there are no camping opportunities along them either so they are all day paddles. These waters should be paddled before April as the water levels can really drop after that time. Also, these are Premier trout waters that attract many anglers and any paddling after trout season opens would certainly cause some agitation. Most of these rivers are just ouside the park boundry.

My recommendation.......leave the boats at home.
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Old 04-26-2013, 08:14 PM   #7
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Well that probably explains why I have never been there. I was looking at maps and wondering why I never have. I suppose I will at least once in my life. Every time I think about going I wind up a bit farther north

As far as the choc-key part of the ADKs, I could do without that, although I have my share of shirts and the like that have some Adirondack advertisement on them. I do like Adirondack art - that seems to make it's way back home as well.
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Old 04-26-2013, 09:58 PM   #8
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Old 04-28-2013, 06:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill I. View Post
I spent a bit of time in the Catskills a few years ago, and these were the general comparisons that I came away with from that experience:
  1. The Adirondacks have far and away more diversity in terrain: mountains, wetlands, lakes, wild streams. In the Catskills, the mountains are well preserved but nearly all of the valleys are developed.
  2. The Catskills have a higher road density, and these roads tend to wander relatively farther up the mountainsides than in the Adirondacks. This means that the wild spaces are smaller, and the walking distances are shorter. When you climb a mountain in the Catskills, you rarely have to make an "approach."
  3. The Adirondacks are peaked, the Catskills are domed. Many views down there are maintained -- i.e. someone cuts the brush to prevent it from growing in.
  4. The trail system in the Catskills makes it much easier to plan loops and traverses than in the Adirondacks, where trails are more likely to be dead ends.
  5. The Catskills have less of a cultural identity than the Adirondacks. Whereas almost every town in the Adirondacks have quaint country stores filled with Adirondack-themed books and souvenirs, I could find no such thing in the Catskills.
  6. Trails in the Catskills tend to be drier. Mud is less of an issue down there.
  7. Trailless peaks really are trailless in the Catskills. There are few herd paths.
Bill has covered it pretty well here, and I agree with all his points, but I'll add m2cw anyway. The Catskills are beautiful in their own right, just different. Spring hiking in the Cats is a delight. Beautiful spring flowers abound and there is little mud. Although there is rarely an approach of any significance, don't be fooled...steep is steep, and there are some tough climbs down there. Check it out. You'll be glad you did.
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Old 04-28-2013, 07:28 PM   #10
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I can't really speak for the paddling. I'd love to get into it someday but can't afford a boat and have nowhere to store one if i could. So from a hiking standpoint most of the key points have already been covered. I will say the Catskills are great when you don't have a lot of time for a hike as the approaches are short if not entirely nonexistent. Catskills also takes the cake during the height of blackfly season. The bugs are much less annoying in the Catskills.

Just a thought can you paddle on the Esopus? That might be something to look into.
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Old 04-28-2013, 07:31 PM   #11
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I don't need to paddle. I love to hike as well.

In the 'dacks I try to mix it up to keep my body fresh. You can absolutely kill yourself paddling and feel fairly strong hiking the next day. That is the nice thing

The exception are days/trips with difficult portage. Then just plan on taking the next day off.
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Old 04-28-2013, 11:27 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tanston View Post
I can't really speak for the paddling. I'd love to get into it someday but can't afford a boat and have nowhere to store one if i could. So from a hiking standpoint most of the key points have already been covered. I will say the Catskills are great when you don't have a lot of time for a hike as the approaches are short if not entirely nonexistent. Catskills also takes the cake during the height of blackfly season. The bugs are much less annoying in the Catskills.

Just a thought can you paddle on the Esopus? That might be something to look into.
tanston,

Check out Rich's site here
He's the owner of Adirondack Paddle 'N Pole, and posts many of his trips...I've seen the Esopus mentioned there many times.
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Old 02-03-2015, 05:47 PM   #13
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This topic has been covered by people above who are much more informed on both regions than I. So as a rookie to both areas (having been to each once, briefly... I more often frequent the Green and White Mountains) the main thing that I noticed which I did not see mentioned in this thread (which I realize is a couple years old) is that the Catskills are part of Appalachia, The Adirondacks are not. Appalachia has unique scenery and a unique feel different from that of the Adirondacks. One major component of that is that the Catskills are more of a deciduous forest than the Adirondacks which seems to be approaching perhaps 50% evergreen or more in some locations (not really sure of the %'s actually). Appalachian forests are (generally) older and more mature the hills more refined and graceful which I tend to enjoy, although places like the whites have been heavily forested (huge clear cuts in many places).

The Catskills have those amazing views in the fall also, because you're closer to large abundances of the bright sugar maples and other bright turning trees. I am biased though because as much as I like evergreens, I love deciduous forests much more.


The ADK's obviously have an advantage when it comes to an abundance waterways, although is there anything like Platte Clove, Kaaterskill Falls, Peekamoose Hole, etc... in the ADK's? Possibly not sure about Platte Clove though that is pretty unique with all those waterfalls (though it has it's own issues in terms of legal access which is very unfortunate).
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Old 02-03-2015, 06:06 PM   #14
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I'd also like to create a sub-question in this thread:

What are the nuisances to look out for in each area (ADKs vs. Cats) and which are more annoying?

Tell me if I have this right and please add on anything I'm leaving out:

ADKs: More black flies in spring, muddier hikes, more touristy in some areas, longer approaches not as easy physically to reach peaks, less deciduous forest... How is the water? Is it generally MUCH colder than in the Catskills?

Catskills: More Ticks, more Bears, more legal restrictions on access to certain areas, smaller area, less isolated from population centers, more mosquitoes?


Please add any additional thoughts you have at all, thanks!
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Old 02-03-2015, 07:44 PM   #15
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Oh Yea , RATTLESNAKES !

They're much more prevalent in the Catskills, correct?
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Old 02-03-2015, 07:50 PM   #16
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Is there a significant difference in the people/culture of each region? How would describe those differences?
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Old 02-03-2015, 08:10 PM   #17
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Bill has covered it pretty well here, and I agree with all his points, but I'll add m2cw anyway. The Catskills are beautiful in their own right, just different. Spring hiking in the Cats is a delight. Beautiful spring flowers abound and there is little mud. Although there is rarely an approach of any significance, don't be fooled...steep is steep, and there are some tough climbs down there. Check it out. You'll be glad you did.
Building on this.
In the Catskills many hikes start climbing early on. No 3-5 mile approaches there.

In the Catskills most of the waterfalls actually fall rather than mostly cascade.

In the Catskills the bushwacks don't require passage through crippling undergrowth.

In the Catskills the tops of the lesser peaks are deciduous not coniferous and just plain fun. You have to climb to the 35s to get into conifers.

In the Catskills there are very steep trails and off trail adventures. They might be less mileage but don't think they are not steep.

In the Catskills you better bring water. In the ADKs you can filter and pump water.

There are very few difficult water crossings in the Catskills.
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Old 02-03-2015, 08:14 PM   #18
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The Catskills are the ugly child, no questions about it. Not as robust, not as spectacular, not as unique, not as wild, not as challenging, not as...anything.

Are they better than a walk in a local park? Absolutely. Are they the Adirondacks? Don't even mentioned them in the same breath.
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Old 02-03-2015, 08:17 PM   #19
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The Catskills are the ugly child, no questions about it. Not as robust, not as spectacular, not as unique, not as wild, not as challenging, not as...anything.

Are they better than a walk in a local park? Absolutely. Are they the Adirondacks? Don't even mentioned them in the same breath.
Wow.

You need to be helicoptered into a big patch of nettles

Don
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Old 02-03-2015, 08:21 PM   #20
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^ty! @HearTheFootsteps, some interesting points not brought up yet.


and haha at the last 2 posts.
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