Delaware County (New York)
- Delhi, the county seat
- Deposit, on the Broome County line at the West Branch
- Downsville, at the mouth of Pepacton Reservoir
- Fleischmanns, an old Jewish resort town
- Hancock, where the branches of the Delaware River join into the main stem
- Margaretville, another mountain resort community.
- Sidney, the county's largest settlement, between Oneonta and Binghamton along I-88.
- Stamford, near the source of the Delaware
- Walton, near the north end of Cannonsville Reservoir.
The mountains may be higher in the counties to the east, but the Catskills are everywhere in Delaware County. If it seems there are more of them than there are people, it's because Delaware has the lowest population density of any county in New York outside of the Adirondacks. Most of the residents live in or near the small villages and hamlets that seem to sprout anywhere enough level ground can be found, usually along the two upper branches of the river that gives its name to the county in return for its waters, impounded in the county to create New York City's two largest reservoirs. Along those rivers, and between the villages, you will see the large dairy farms that make up the backbone of the Delaware County economy.
While for most travelers Delaware County is a large open space passed through on the way to somewhere else like Binghamton or Oneonta, those who take the time to stop there can discover the hidden charms of upstate New York at its most rural, from sweeping mountain and valley vistas to the quiet country charm of a tidy bed and breakfast. Outdoor enthusiasts in particular will find much to sample and return to later—with most of the county's wildlands outside of the Catskill Park, hunting is more accessible. Trout fishermen take to their boats in Cannonsville and Pepacton reservoirs, and their waders in the East and West branches below them, sometimes even daring the Delaware's main stem below Hancock. Mountain bikers, skiers and hikers can find less beaten paths in various corners of this quiet yet welcoming county. And for those who'd prefer something less strenuous but equally rewarding, the village shopping districts remain largely untouched by time.
Delaware County is the Catskills for those who really do want to get away from it all. In the past that has included the likes of U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who made the Pindars Corners farm he summered at his legal residence. In the future it could easily include you, as well.
Recently, there have been articles published in world-class travel magazines extolling the rural, pristine virtues of Delaware County. Several of the villages along Route 28, such as Margaretville and Andes, have gotten what has come to be known as the 'hipster treatment.' Trendy boutiques, antique stores, bed and breakfast inns and locally-sourced food vendors line main streets that used to feature diners and gas stations. This 'progress' seems to have stopped short of Delhi, however, that village has a more entrenched purpose as the county seat and home to a SUNY technical college.
Even little Bloomville, NY which is between Delhi and South Kortright, now features a trendy restaurant located at a crossroads near the western terminus of the Catskill Rail Trail.
Delhi, the county seat, is pronounced not like the Indian capital but with a long "i" at the end, as "DELL-high."
Being partly populated with former down-staters, and having several colleges in the area attended by down-state students, there is very little difference in the language overall from the New York metropolitan area.
Much of the communication among full-time residents is non verbal, such as the slight 'roll-eyes' they give to one another when a 'tourist' does not leave their brash, loud-spoken ways at home.
Generally, visitors should speak more gently than they do when they are at home; they should make eye contact more, and try to smile occasionally. Many 'city people' don't realize how rapidly, loudly and aggressively they actually speak. Since we all have the same license plates, getting a little mud on your car, letting someone get on line ahead of you at the Quickway (gas station) and speaking gently to all those you encounter will enable you to fit in quite nicely.
As much as it is described as rural, Delaware County is just as often referred to as remote for a very good reason—it actually is. There is no scheduled passenger air service to any airport nearer than Binghamton, although there are two general-aviation airports on the northwest corner of the county. Nor is there any passenger rail service anywhere nearby that could be called convenient. So if you plan to visit, you'll be coming by road, most likely in a car.
There was once commercial passenger service to Oneonta Municipal Airport, just outside the county, but no more. Still, it's ideal for the private pilot who wants to visit. Sidney Municipal Airport, the county's only airport, is smaller.
Adirondack Trailways runs two routes from the Hudson Valley to Oneonta, along state routes 23 and 28, that serve the more populated communities in northern Delaware County on those highways. One, departing from Kingston, stops in Arkville, Margaretville, Andes and Delhi; the other leaves from Saugerties, crossing Greene County to stops in Grand Gorge and Stamford.
Two of the state's freeways pass through the periphery of Delaware County. New York State Route 17, slowly being upgraded into Interstate 86, connects the county with Binghamton to the west and the New York metropolitan area to the southeast, closely following the Beaver Kill and both branches of the Delaware as it does. This is the most traveled route to and from the county, winding through scenic and rugged countryside largely unpopulated save for the village of Hancock. There are still at-grade intersections in some areas; the state is slowly closing them or building overpasses to meet interstate standards.
On the northwest fringe, Interstate 88 passes through the county, including Sidney, its most populous community. It's the most common way of reaching that corner of the county from Binghamton, and the best approach overall when coming from the Capital District at the northern end. Like NY 17/I-86, it follows the headwaters of a major river, in this case the Susquehanna. New York State Route 7 is a parallel two-lane road for those who prefer that.
New York State Routes 8 and 10 reach Delaware County going south from the Utica area. The former runs mostly past farms and woods from Sidney south to where the two roads jointly end at NY 17 in Deposit. Route 10 offers more varied scenery, following the Delaware's West Branch from near its source north of Stamford down through Delhi and Walton, along Cannonsville Reservoir to Deposit.
Drivers willing to trade a slower approach for a more direct route into central and northeastern Delaware County from the Hudson Valley to the east have two surface roads to choose from. After an equally scenic trip across northern Greene County, New York State Route 23 basks at the foot of the mountains along the northern fringe of the county between Grand Gorge and Stamford, detouring into Schoharie County for a few miles as it does. Drivers can pick it up either from the New York State Thruway at Catskill, or via NY 23A, which merges with it near Prattsville after coming through the ski towns of Tannersville and Hunter. West of Stamford, it passes through less populated country before merging with NY 28 just east of the I-88 exit at Oneonta.
After an equally scenic trip up the Esopus Creek valley from Kingston, New York State Route 28 passes Fleischmanns and Arkville to Margaretville. There it turns west, passing through Andes en route to Delhi en route to Oneonta. This is the most direct route to Delaware County from the Hudson Valley.
Another approach from the north, New York State Route 30, tops the scenic Schoharie Creek valley it passes through in that county with a gorgeous panorama of Grand Gorge and the mountains behind it shortly after it crosses the Delaware County line. Behind a tire shop south of the village the East Branch of the Delaware rises; NY 30 follows it down to Margaretville and then along Pepacton Reservoir to Downsville, finally ending at NY 17 where the Beaver Kill empties into the East Branch in the eponymous hamlet.
A leisurely drive up the Delaware's main stem along New York State Route 97 through Sullivan County brings traffic into Delaware County's lightly populated southern corner. It pulls farther away from the river here, with tiny settlements like Lordsville reachable via side roads before it reaches Hancock and its northern terminus at NY 17. For those coming from the adjoining areas of Northeastern Pennsylvania, this, or Pennsylvania Route 191, which also ends at Hancock, may be the best approach.
If you are coming from the northwest and wish to avoid Binghamton, New York State Route 206 leaves Interstate 81 at the Whitney Point exit. Passing through mostly farm country with no major settlements, it works its way into Delaware County as it heads due east. There, it intersects NY 8 at the small hamlet of Masonville on its way to Walton and Downsville in the county's southeast. From its southern terminus at NY 17 in the Sullivan County hamlet of Roscoe, it also serves as a more direct route to those two communities.
As you might imagine from the previous section, there is no public transportation of any kind in Delaware County. Not even a bus network, other than the stops Adirondack Trailways makes. So, you'll most likely be getting around in a car again.
Most of the county's local road network is maintained by it or the towns they pass through. There is one state highway entirely within the county. New York State Route 268 connects Hancock with Cannonsville Reservoir. However, at times of heavy rainfall in the past, such as 2006, it has been closed off due to landslides and flooding, so check beforehand if there has been such weather recently.
- John Burroughs Memorial State Historic Site, on Burroughs Road off NY 30 south of Grand Gorge. Delaware County's only designated National Historic Landmark commemorates the life and death of native son Burroughs, who pioneered modern nature writing in many of his bestsellers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The site of the farm where Burroughs grew up, it is also home to Woodchuck Lodge, where he spent his later years, and his final resting place.
- While none of the Catskills' 35 High Peaks are in Delaware County, there are still rewarding hikes available. The western corner of the Catskill Park in the county's east offers gems like Barkaboom Mountain and Dry Brook Ridge amid its hundreds of acres of state-owned "forever wild" Forest Preserve. Elsewhere in the county is the 7,000-acre Bear Spring Mountain Wildlife Management Area, along Route 206 between Walton and Downsville. Outside Stamford, it is sometimes possible to drive the road to the top of Mount Utsayantha and its sweeping views—if not, it's an easy hike. The long-distance Finger Lakes Trail also offers possibilities, particularly in two state forests at the county's southwest corner.
- The Catskill Scenic Trail is the premier mountain-biking route in the county. It follows 26.5 mi (42.6 km) of old railroad right-of-way through river valleys and spectacular scenery from Bloomville through Stamford over to Grand Gorge and down to Roxbury. Horses and of course hikers are also welcome. Snowmobilers and cross-country skiers use the trail in winter.
- Bear Spring and the Catskill Park wild forests are also especially popular with hunters. New York's annual deer season is held in November and December; there are longer small-game seasons and a wild turkey season in the spring. License fees for those from out of state are higher than for residents.
- If water-based recreation is more your thing, consider visiting either Cannonsville or Pepacton reservoirs, impoundments of the West and East branches of the Delaware respectively, built to supply New York City in the mid-20th century. Cannonsville, located in the winding valleys between Walton and Deposit, has the largest basin of the city's reservoirs, while Pepacton, between Margaretville and Downsville, holds the most water. Unpowered boating and fishing are permitted on them with a free permit from the city's Department of Environmental Protection.
- Neighboring Sullivan County may have the historical claim to being the birthplace of American fly fishing, but southern Delaware County has most of the waters. As you follow Route 17 west from Roscoe on a good day during the season (April 1–October 31), you'll see anglers casting for trout in the lower Beaver Kill and the East and West branches of the Delaware. Licenses from the state's Department of Environmental Conservation, whether for a day or year, are available from many local sporting-goods stores for a reasonable price, whether resident or out-of-state. Local guide services are available as well.
- Despite all the mountains, downhill skiing has had a tough go of it in Delaware County, due to the remoteness of the area and the competition offered by more accessible resorts to the east. Right now the only area operating is Plattekill Mountain in the northeast corner of the county, near Roxbury and Grand Gorge. If you can't ski or board and aren't willing to learn, Platekill offers inner tubes for rent as well.
Drive carefully on secondary and tertiary roads if you are unfamiliar with them, particularly those that are unpaved. Many of them were built to serve local farms, not visitors, so they take steep slopes and sharp turns. Should you have an accident, assistance is some distance away and will take time to arrive; cellular phone coverage may not even be available.
This advice goes doubly or triply for those roads in adverse weather conditions. Some dirt roads have signs noting that they are not maintained in wintertime. If your vehicle is not equipped with four-wheel drive it would be wise to consider an alternate route.
Interstate 88 has been known to get very windy and icy during the winter.
Heavy rainfall can also turn some of those roads into quagmires. Even paved roads are not immune, if they travel through narrow gaps between mountains at any point. NY 268 has been closed for months at a time in the wake of major storms due to flooding and landslides, for instance.
Be sure to equip yourself with the proper equipment while hiking. As a general rule and at minimum, wear sturdy, waterproof hiking boots, carry plenty of water, avoid cotton garments except during the hottest months, leave plenty of time to return to the trailhead, and expect sudden changes of weather - much more so than in coastal climates. Many hikers wear trousers (not shorts) at all times in the Catskills, there is an increasing concern over ticks, and a walk through a field of stinging nettles is an unforgettable experience.
Be aware of the various hunting seasons in the Catskills, primarily deer/rifle season, which generally extends from roughly a week before Thanksgiving to several weeks after Thanksgiving. Check the DEC website for exact details. The Catskills are in the 'southern zone' according to DEC hunting season maps. Hiking during hunting season is generally not recommended, but it is not impossible, either, if one takes the proper precautions.
Animal hazards include rattlesnakes in a small number of locations in Delaware County (primarily near Hancock), these snakes, as well as skunks and porcupines, are not much of a hazard for adults with a fair amount of situational awareness, but they could become a problem for curious children and dogs.
Crime in the Catskills region is generally concentrated in the Sullivan County cities and towns along Route 17, therefore late-night travelers to the area coming up via Route 17 should wait until they have made it to Delaware County before stopping in for gas and supplies. A great spot for a road trip meal is the Roscoe Diner, located right off the highway in the town of the same name. Once in Roscoe, continue north on Route 206 into Downsville, Walton, Franklin, Colchester or Masonville. This is truly Delaware County's quietest area.
Many visitors from more populated areas (almost everyone who visits Delaware County is from a more populated area) are often taken aback at the prevalence of firearms carried openly. There are several species of small game that the DEC has designated as 'open season' so be aware that there may be some hunting going on at any given time of year. Individuals who own homes or seasonal cabins in remote areas may engage in target practice on their own land, anyone can do so on public lands. If hearing shooting near a hiking trail makes you nervous, it is very reasonable to ask the individuals to stop shooting until you are well past. The simple presence of a firearm, either holstered (handgun) or safely carried (long gun) should cause a visitor absolutely no concern.
North and west of Delaware County, Central New York begins. Otsego County is home to Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame, and scenic Schoharie County. Broome County centers on the nearest larger city to Delaware County, Binghamton. Chenango County is a similarly rural region, though smaller and less mountainous.
South, across the West Branch and the Delaware's main stem, is the Poconos and Endless Mountains region of Pennsylvania, with Wayne County, likewise sparsely populated, being the gateway to that region from Delaware County.
The rest of the Catskills and the Mid-Hudson Valley lie to the east. Scenic Schoharie County lies to the northeast, while the higher mountains and wilder lands of Greene and Ulster counties border on the east. On the southeast, NY 17 takes you right into Sullivan County, onetime home of the Woodstock festival and the traditional Borscht Belt resorts.
|Routes through Delaware County|
|Ends at ← Binghamton ←||W E||→ Schenectady → Ends at|
|Elmira ← Binghamton ←||W E||→ Middletown → Ends at|
|Norwich ← Oneonta ←||W E||→ Prattsville → Catskill|
|Cooperstown ← Oneonta ←||N S||→ Phoenicia → Ends at Kingston|