Known first for its tannery and then for its chair factory, Hunter is now a small ski town. Behind it rises the trail-carved wall of Hunter Mountain Ski Area, while along Main Street stand lodges and restaurants, many done up in ersatz Swiss motif. During the off-season, many of these establishments seem shut down and the village takes on a neglected feel.
Housed in an inviting red barn in the center of town is the Catskill Mountain Foundation (7967 Main St., www.catskillmtn.org, 518/263-4908), a nonprofit group dedicated to the arts. The foundation runs a performing arts center in the red barn, as well as the CMF Theater, Bookstore, and Gallery (518/263-5157, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, with extended hours on weekends) in two renovated buildings across the street.
In summer, anglers can be found trout fishing in Schoharie Creek along Route 23A, while hikers take to the slopes of Hunter Mountain. Four miles south of town is the 24-site Devil’s Tombstone Campground (Rte. 214, 845/688-7160, for camping reservations, call 800/456-CAMP).
s a favorite haunt of the aprés ski crowd; live music is often featured on the weekends. The inn holds 27 standard double rooms and 14 suites, which feature cathedral ceilings and whirlpool tubs.
Hunter Mountain Ski Area
Hunter Mountain Ski Area (off Rte. 23A in the heart of the village, 518/263-4223, www.huntermtn.com) is the Catskills’ best-known ski center and one of its biggest businesses. In winter, boisterous New York City folk flock here by the thousands to ski its crowded slopes. The three-mountain complex offers 49 trails, 15 lifts and tows, and 100 percent snowmaking capability.
In summer, the Hunter Mountain Festivals are staged here. Regular events include the German Festival, Oktoberfest, and the International Celtic Festival, during which dozens of men in kilts march down the mountainside.
On summer and fall weekends, the Hunter Mountain Sky Ride travels to the mountain’s summit (10 a.m.–5 p.m. Sat.–Sun. July–Oct., $6 per person). Open year-round is the resort’s small Ski Museum (10 a.m.–5 p.m., free admission), which documents the history of the sport.
A number of good, well-marked hiking trails lace the area around Hunter Mountain. Many start at the back of the mountain on Old Spruceton Road. To get there, continue west on Route 23A past the Ukrainian church and turn left onto Route 42 south. Continue to the hamlet of Westkill, turn east onto County Road 6, and follow it six miles through pastoral Spruceton Valley. At the end, after the road has become dirt, are two parking lots with trailheads.
The main trail leading to Hunter’s summit is of moderate difficulty, covers 7.2 miles round-trip, and takes about 6–7 hours. Along the way is a mile-long spur leading to Colonel’s Chair, a northern protuberance of the mountain supposedly resembling a giant armchair. The chair was named after Col. William Edwards, an early tanner who made his fortune decimating the area’s hemlock forest, and then unceremoniously pulled out. It was Edwards who first put Hunter, then known as Edwardsville, on the map.
One of the easiest hikes in the Catskills, leading to Diamond Notch Falls, also begins at the parking lots. The gently inclining trail is about a mile long and runs alongside West Kill Creek. Wildflowers and birds are abundant.
For more information on hiking Hunter Mountain, stop in at the main Hunter Mountain ski lodge (off Rte. 23A in the heart of the village, 518/263-4223, www.huntermtn.com).
Accommodations and Food
The charming Fairlawn Inn (7872 Main St., 518/263-5025, www.fairlawninn.com, $95–100 d) is a three-story Victorian hostelry with nine attractive guest rooms, many with brass or four-poster beds, along with cable TV and in-room Internet access. Stained-glass windows, parquet floors, 19th-century antiques, wraparound porches, and a stunning central staircase add to the ambiance.
The modern Scribner Hollow Lodge (Main St./Rte. 23A, just east of Hunter Mountain, 518/263-4211 or 800/395-4683, www.scribnerhollow.com, $110–260 per person d, with breakfast and dinner) is a full-service lodge with an outdoor pool, an unusual indoor grotto, saunas, and fireplaces. Each of the 37 rooms is furnished differently, and artwork is everywhere. Adjoining the lobby is Prospect Restaurant (average entrée $24), offering American regional cuisine prepared with fresh local ingredients, along with scenic vistas.
Near the base of Hunter Mountain is the chalet-style Hunter Mountain Inn (7433 Main St., 518/263-3777, www.hunterinn.com, $90–120, $180 peak ski weekends), whose bar i
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition