Exploring the Catskills: Gilboa & Blenheim

When I was thinking of writing this post, I wanted to feature the beauty of the Catskills. People tend to take where they live for granted. As travelers, we want to see what else is out there and we forget that right where we live there are sites and attractions to visit. So I explored the neighboring towns of Gilboa and Blenheim to see what would attract people to visit this area. Since I grew up in the area I thought it would be nice to give an overview of things you can see and do if you decide to explore this part of New York.

The Catskills are a chain of mountains in New York state stretching from forty miles south of Albany to about 100 miles north-west of New York City and sits to the west of the Hudson River. Its footprint takes up just under 6,000 square miles and there is a ton packed into those miles. With that much area to cover I wanted to focus on the small towns of Gilboa and Blenheim. Although neither town has any accommodations, there are houses to rent and accommodations can be found no less than 20 minutes from either location.

Gilboa

The tiny town of Gilboa was first settled in 1760. In the mid-1800s the town’s main source of income was a cotton mill. However, that mill was destroyed in a flood in 1869. In 1870 workers at a stone quarry found fossilized tree stumps. Since then scientists found the tops of ancient trees thought to be ferns. These trees were Wattieza trees a prehistoric tree discovered to be the oldest known trees on the entire planet! So for you fossil fiends out there, this is a place for you to see.

Gilboa Museum

Gilboa has a fossil museum located in the Northern part of town open only on weekends but you can see some of these discoveries first hand. For a small museum, it is well thought out and definitely worth a visit if you are here on a Saturday or Sunday.

Schoharie Dam

Not far from Gilboa is the Schoharie reservoir. Locals know it as the Gilboa dam. The dam was created in 1926 to supply clean drinking water to New York City. The original settlement was razed to the ground and relocated to the north to make way for the dam. Today the reservoir is still a primary supply of water to New York City and is used as a recreational area for boaters and fishers.

Mine Kill Recreational Area

One of the best-kept secrets of the area is the Mine Kill recreational area. This encompasses Mine Kill State Park and the Mine Kill Falls. Mine Kill State Park is a great place to take families for a day trip. There are several hikes available, access to a boat launch where you can fish, kayak, canoe, or boat. All of the park facilities open in late Spring and offer a swimming pool, snack shack, soccer fields, frisbee golf, and cookout areas with grills for park-goers to take advantage of.

Just south of the Park is the Mine Kill Falls. There are two well-kept paths you can take. One will lead you to the upper falls and one to the lower falls. The hike down to either fall includes stairs and some steeps walking sections so make sure to wear good footgear. Neither hike will take long and can easily be included in your day to Mine Kill State Park.

Blenheim

I included Blenheim for two reasons. One, it has access to some great recreational areas and two, the covered bridge. Blenheim is a tiny town, with a population of just under 400 people, north of Gilboa on Route 30. It is the home of the New York Power Authority which generates hydroelectric power for use at moments of peak demand not only for the immediate area but for Albany and New York City.

Blenheim was settled in 1797 and

New York Power Authority Visitor’s center & Lansing Manor

You can learn all about hydroelectricity at the New York Power Authority’s visitor center. The visitor center is free and hosts an array of special events from car shows to wildlife festivals and even zombie runs. While at the center you can also visit Lansing Manor which was the home of John Lansing one of our state representatives who was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787. The house is furnished with period pieces from the first half of the 1800s. The complex is open daily but check their website for special events, which typically occur on weekends.

Blenheim Covered Bridge

Your last stop in Blenheim should be the covered bridge. If you are traveling from Lansing Manor it will be north on Route 30 just on the way out of the town of Blenheim. The bridge is one of the world’s longest single-span covered bridges still in existence. The original bridge was built in 1855 and stood until it was swept away by a flood and destroyed in 2011. They have since rebuilt the new covered bridge as an exact replica as the one which previously stood on the spot. Visitors can walk the bridge now where it was not safe to do so before. There is a sitting area with tables and benches where you can pack a lunch and take in the views.

Explore the area around you

As travelers, we like to visit new cultures and see new and exciting places but I invite you to explore your own neighborhood. See what beauty you can find in the area around you. You might surprise yourself and find that instead of wanting to travel to new exotic locales you can find joy in your surroundings. Think of places that you might want to take a friend who is visiting and enjoy the place yourself. Do you have a place near you that is a best-kept secret? Share it in the comments! Until next time.

 

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