Hike and dine in the Catskills Andes towns and Bovina

As you drive down Route 28 in eastern Delaware County, the first indication you are approaching the city of Andes is the sign that proclaims it to be the home of the anti-rent wars.

Nearly 200 years ago, in the 1830s, sharecroppers pulling stones from the rocky, hilly soil of the Catskills and managing to make a living took up arms against the tax system levied by their wealthy landowners who owned huge tracts of this part of New York State. The riots led to the introduction of tenants’ rights into the state constitution, which eventually caused landowners to sell their mansions which were no longer profitable.

Today, the dry stone walls built by these farmers still criss-cross the steep slopes around the Andes and across the fields traversed by the Andes Rail Trail, an accessible hiking trail suitable for hikers and families of all ages.

Hiking: getting motivated

The Bullet Hole Spur, strenuous in a few places, offers great views of the Tremperskill Valley in the Catskills.

sun flint

The start of the trail and the parking lot Andes Rail Trail is located just on the outskirts of the city itself, in the historic Depot Building, which was built in 1907. Note that the lot fills up quickly on weekend mornings, so you’ll want to start early if you can .

The first mile of the trail is flat and follows the old railroad bed past clapboard farms, a duck pond the locals tend to come to chat with and over a mountain stream flowing through through the fields.

At nearly the one mile mark, connect to the Bullet Hole Spur Trail, which zigzags down a steady wooded incline. At the top of the ridge, you’ll have views of the Tremperskill Valley, and the rest of the 1.2 miles alternates steep sections with rolling walks through stone walls under tall pines, perfect for kids of all ages .

Related: Braces, yes. Gloves, no. Vintage baseball is making a comeback in the Catskills

The round trip trail is a total of 3.5 miles and can be completed in about two hours.

Andes for fuel and fun

One of the great things about this trail and hike is its proximity to the Andes town and its shops, breweries, and cafes. In fact, the Weaver Hollow Brewery (294 Depot St, Andes) is located next to the Depot building, and a bar will be opening this summer to serve their old-school farmhouse beers.

After working up an appetite, stop at Roadside Cider and Taproom (55 Redden Ln, Andes) for lunch, which serves bar snacks, local smoked trout with house-pickled red onions and rye crisps, and velvety homemade vegetarian soups, as well as puckery ciders made with wild apples. During the colder months, cozy up by the large indoor wood-burning stove or, in the summer, sit at the picnic tables in the courtyard.

After refueling, it’s time to walk around the city. Pop into vintage clothing stores and antique shops and stop in the Andes General Store (103 Main Street, Andes) or the Andes Hotel (110 Main Street, Andes), which has a tavern and a restaurant.

Climb a steep staircase to visit the luminous length of Diamond hollow books (72 Main Street, Andes), a second-hand and rare bookstore that has, among other finds, an extensive collection of mushroom and mycology tomes, and also houses energy and reiki healing rooms. The Falcon & Hive Gallery (61 Main Street Andes) across the street features contemporary art and photography by emerging and established artists, as well as coveted home decor items, from pewter mugs to table linens.

Puff pastry croissants and sticky bread rolls Wilson’s Loaves (143 Main Street, Andes) are so popular that locals descend early on weekends to score about half a dozen. And the baked goods game is about to heat up, as the owner/baker of Magpies on the pink street (until recently at Russell’s Store in the nearby Bovina Center) will now sell its magic pies at Wilson’s. Her savory creations include the Meyer Lemon Chess Pie with local lavender and honey and the Salty Catskills Maple Pie, to name just two.

Bovina Center for dinner

Bovina Farm and Fermentory is the labor of love of Elizabeth Starks and Jacob Sackett.

Bovina Farm and Fermentory is the labor of love of Elizabeth Starks and Jacob Sackett.

Christian Harder

Complete the adventure with a farm dinner at Bovina Farm and Fermentation (2951 Co Rd 5, Bovina Center), for a prix fixe meal – call ahead as reservations are required).

Climb the rocky driveway to a barn-like dining room where long communal tables are set with candles and simple but elegant handwritten menus in each spot. The four-course meal is prepared using produce and ingredients sourced from local farms and producers, and is cooked and served by the husband-and-wife team of Elizabeth Starks and Jacob Sackett, who also brews the beers and ales served with each course, such as the Wet Spelled Farmhouse Beer and the Lemon Table Beer. The last dinner on the farm is May 20, and then they move on to picnics and summer parties.

In the center of the small Bovina Center, Brushland Restoration House (1927 County Highway 6, Bovina Center) also offers dinners at a fixed price and by reservation only on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. Chef Sohail Zandi and his wife Sarah Elbert create an ever-changing three-course menu based on the seasons and his sensibilities, from escalope to porchetta, in a renovated main street house. There is only one seat per night and they book up quickly.

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