Illustration by Emma Dibben
The blink-and-you’ll-miss-them river communities on Route 97, along the eastern bank of the Delaware River, have seen good times and bad, but an influx of exurbanites from Brooklyn is breathing new life into faded lumber towns like Barryville and Narrowsburg. In summer and fall, especially, the road from Port Jervis to Callicoon is a seductive jaunt that clings lovingly to the Delaware for most of the 45-mile journey, before the river vistas give way to tumbledown farms and picture-perfect woods.
Start: Port Jervis, N.Y.
End: Catskill Park
Total distance: 100 miles
Suggested length: 2–5 days
1) Foundry 42, Port Jervis
It’s taken a long time, but finally there are signs of “reJervination,” to use Cooper Boone’s phrase, in this old industrial town 90 miles northwest of New York. Boone, a clinical psychologist, singer-songwriter, and foodie, is the kind of local pioneer who sees an opportunity and runs to it. His new venture, Foundry 42+, occupying a two-story 1940 building with tin ceilings, is a miniature ABC Carpet & Home, with bespoke furniture, antiques, grooming products (created by Boone’s husband, Mark Veeder), a café serving local bakes, and—most importantly—hand-made unicorns. Find more info here.
Left: Exterior of Foundry 42. Right: Inside Foundry 42. (Photos courtesy of Foundry 42)
2) Stickett Inn, Barryville
Owners Roswell Hamrick and Johnny Pizzolato have turned this former canal house into an eclectic Aladdin’s den of whimsical art and woodsy comforts. Each of the fours suites is themed—Soak, Drink, Eat, and Steam—so choose your poison wisely. We like the spacious trough tub in Soak, but if you’re in the mood to party, Drink comes with a wet bar. For a gentle hike, the town is close to the Minisink Battle Ground, a half-mile trail commemorating American soldiers who perished in a 1779 raid lead by Joseph Brant, a Mohawk colonel in the British Army. Find more info here.
3) Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct, Lackawaxen
Though John Roebling is best known for building the Brooklyn Bridge, this Roebling-designed crossing at the hamlet of Lackawaxen is the oldest wire suspension bridge in the United States. Built in 1847 to connect the two parts of the sadly-defunct Delaware & Hudson Canal, it’s now just a regular road bridge, while still retaining its original appearance. Cross to the other side to find the house, now a small museum, where the western author Zane Grey lived from 1905 to 1918.
4) Tusten Mountain Trail
Midway between Barryville and Narrowsburg, the Tusten Mountain Trail is a three-mile loop of pristine woods overlooking the river. Hike through eastern hemlocks and white pines, and in spring, a plethora of wildflowers including violets, red columbines, and pink lady’s slippers. Find more info here.
5) The Heron and The Laundrette, Narrowsburg
Sitting at the narrowest point of the Delaware River (hence its name), Narrowsburg is a happy hunting ground for birders scanning the skies for bald eagles, especially in winter and early spring before the tree canopy grows back. In summer, scramble down the river bank under the bridge and swim off the large flat boulder before hitting one of the town’s bustling restaurants: The Heron, on Main Street, for comfort classics like buttermilk-fried local chicken, or The Laundrette, for inventive pizzas baked in an imported Italian wood-fired oven. Wash them down with a New York Sour on the outdoor terrace with its stunning river views.
Left: The patio at the Laundrette. Right: A pastry and latte at the Laundrette. (Photos courtesy of the Laundrette)
6) Nine River Road, Callicoon
With its wide main street straddling the railway line and the imposing mansard roof of the Western Hotel, Callicoon could be the setting of a Zane Grey novel (see #3) if a tumult of new ventures hadn’t blown away the tumbleweeds. Building on their success with boutique hotels in nearby Livingston Manor and Long East Branch, Sims Foster and Kirsten Harlow Foster have brought their cozy aesthetic to Callicoon with the eight-room Nine River Road. Guests check in with the innkeeper in the kitchen, and the down-home vibe continues with porch swings and hammocks. Or just grab one of the bikes and cycle along River Road for bucolic views across the river and unlimited opportunities for a pre-cocktail dip. Find more info here.
Left: The exterior of Nine River Road. Right: Inside the shop at Nine River Road. (Photos courtesy of Nine River Road)
7) Catskill Brewery, Livingston Manor
If a brewery can represent the future of this region, this is it. Apart from making expert hooch, the brewery’s state-of-the-art facility—which includes solar panels, natural day lighting, and green roofs—makes it among the greenest in the nation. Naturally, nearby resident and environmental activist Mark Ruffalo is a fan. Quench your thirst with a growler of Devil’s Path, an IPA named for a brutal Catskills trail. It’s so much easier to drink it than to hike it. Find more info here.
8) Beaverkill Bridge, Catskill Park
Hallowed in the annals of fly-fishing (the great sports writer Red Smith compared described being there for the opening day of the season as “a little like observing Christmas in Bethlehem”), Beaverkill is possibly the most famous trout stream in America. This spot, next to a 150-year-old covered bridge, is picnic nirvana. There are tables and grills along the river—and you can always fish for your supper. 792 Berrybrook Road Spur, Roscoe