A terrific way to enjoy the scenic Catskills is by hopping on the Catskill Mountain Railroad. The train runs along the tracks that once made up the Ulster and Delaware Railroad — a company that boomed in the late 1800s and carried both freight and passenger cars from the Hudson River to Oneonta. With the advent and growing popularity of the automobile, its usage declined and the lines faced permanent destruction until a dedicated group of volunteers saved the day in the 1970s and ’80s.
Now carrying solely tourists in renovated covered and open-air passenger cars, it chugs through the picturesque mountains along two routes. There’s the five-mile Esopus Scenic Train runs from Mt. Tremper to Boiceville ($14 adults, $8 kids), and the 45-minute Kingston City Limited which starts in to Hurley ($8 adults, $5 kids). On August 16, the Esopus line is operating a “twilight” ride where guests are served light refreshments and taken for a ride under the starry sky.
The Kingston City Limited
This fall, look out for the new Pumpkin Patch Express, in which the Kingston train takes passengers to a pumpkin patch to select their Halloween Jack-o-lantern; the Polar Express gives Christmas-themed rides in the winter (check Web site for schedules and pricing).
Though only these bits of the original rail line are currently in operation (other portions have not yet been renovated or suffered damages from Hurricane Irene), a long-term goal is to have the trains travel uninterrupted from Kingston to Phoenicia — and eventually all the way to the end of the line.