by STEVE BERG, Daily Freeman, link to original post
The Adirondacks have one; the Green Mountains have one; the Appalachians have one, and now we in the Catskills have one: our own hiking and outdoor club – The Catskill Mountain Club!
Formed in 2004, after our first annual Lark in the Park celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Catskill Park, we’re seeing interest build in outdoor activities not only in the park, but also throughout our entire Catskill region of six-and-half (half of Albany) counties.
A growing population of second homeowners and visitors is looking for guided hikes, paddles, bike rides and the like. New York City’s reservoirs and other land for public use have been opened, making the Catskills a destination unto itself. Also, there is growing realization that tourism is key to the survival of our region. Outdoor activities have been shown to be the No. 1 draw of tourists to our area!
So we’re making it our priority to offer as many (non-motorized) outdoor activities as possible throughout the year – not just hiking, biking, paddling, snowshoeing and cross country skiing, but also educational walks, family and other social events, and trail building and maintenance.
While it hasn’t been easy starting from scratch, The Catskill Mountain Club is doing it! With 800 participants receiving our emails, we’ve just incorporated as a not for profit and the next step will be to become tax-exempt. Meanwhile, we’ve been appearing at most outdoor festivals and working hard to make the Annual Lark in the Park a success.
This year the Lark was held from Sept. 30 through Oct. 8 with 42 events spaced out over 10 days. Three-hundred people enjoyed its activities, which this year introduced paddles on the Pepacton Reservoir and our first four-day through-hike, this time from Margaretville to Downsville. We also held our first annual dinner celebrating the Lark, which drew 65 people on a Sunday night! Sharing the Lark with us this year has been the Catskill Center and the NY/NJ Trail Conference, which have done a lot to assure its success.
All of this has been achieved with the dedicated work of volunteers, both on our 11-person board and our participants. But we can’t survive without the entire region’s support and we need donations, which are tax-deductible (when made through the Catskill Center), to cover our plans for expansion including new literature, partial staff time and other operating expenses. The Catskills deserve its own outdoor club, so please visit our website, www.catskillmountainclub.org, for details on our year-round activities, on how to volunteer as an event leader or participate in our activities, including trail stewardship, and how to make a financial contribution.