Fall Getaways 2009

The leaves are changing, the air is crisp, the nights are getting longer — it’s the ideal time to hit the road. Check out our local action-packed fall foliage routes or opt for a weekend getaway just a little farther from home


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Frost Valley YMCA in Denning, Ulster CountyThe Forstmann Castle is full of fun antiques to peek at

Frost Valley YMCA, Denning, Ulster County

You know you want to stay at this family-friendly mountain resort

The renown of the Frost Valley YMCA extends throughout our part of New York, as every middle schooler in the Hudson Valley seemingly visits at some point — on field trips during the school year and at camp during the summer.

What is less known is that Frost Valley (845-985-2291) is open year-round, and that on weekends, the camp opens its doors — and there are a variety of doors, leading to rustic cabins and more hotel-style rooms — to families. For a reasonable price, families can come to Frost Valley on Friday afternoon and not worry about a thing until lunch is cleared away on Sunday. If you’re looking for ways to spend a fun weekend with the kids now that the pools are closed, this is an attractive — and affordable — option.

“They come here, they sign in, and everything’s taken care of. All lodging, all meals, and all activities,” emphasizes Karen Rauter, the camp’s marketing and communications director. “That’s good for moms to hear.”

Activities abound in autumn: hiking, climbing, apple-picking, horseback riding, and the customary campground ritual of sitting around a campfire, roasting marshmallows, and staring dreamily at the stars.

Frost Valley YMCA in Denning, Ulster CountyAdventures in vacationland: A 50-foot climbing tower (right) is just one of the resort’s adventure elements, which also include ropes courses and a zip line

“It’s a camp,” Rauter says. “You come here for camp activities — but you don’t have to sleep in a tent.” Although you can if you want to. But there are many options for lodging, ranging from a cabin in the woods to Forstmann Castle, former vacation home of the German wool manufacturer whose rambling estate this once was, and one of Frost Valley’s — and the Hudson Valley’s — best-kept secrets. (It’s not something you’d find in the Loire Valley, but it is, indubitably, a castle.)

If communion with Mother Nature is what you seek, Frost Valley is an ideal idyll. Perched on the highest peaks of the Catskills, in the town of Denning in rural northwestern Ulster County — not far from Slide Mountain and the Red Hill Fire Tower — the camp is known for its scenic beauty. And it’s not exactly the Poughkeepsie Galleria when it comes to iPhone reception.

“Once people come here, they’re in a different world,” Rauter says. “They’re away from cell phones, away from the computer. It’s back to basics — a cabin in the woods.”

Fall might be the best time to visit Frost Valley, as the Catskill trees achieve peak foliage, and the chilly nights seem made for huddling in front of a bonfire, waiting for chocolate bars to melt onto a graham cracker.

“It’s camp,” says Rauter. “You’re seeing the stars. You’re sitting around a campfire. You’re doing things kids do at camp that parents don’t usually get to do.”

» Next stop: Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort, Lake Placid


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