TRAVEL 2023 – Tucked between the Catskills and Adirondacks, the Mohawk Valley is easy to overlook.
But for those looking to get off the beaten path and explore an upstate region rich in history, agriculture, recreation, scenery and other natural wonders, the Mohawk Valley is a must-visit destination.
Located on the banks of the Mohawk River, the area is replete with hidden gems, one-of-a-kind destinations and quality entertainment. The legendary Erie Canal cuts through the region, connecting the Atlantic Seaboard with the American heartland.
Here’s a list of fun and interesting Mohawk Valley events and destinations to guide your summer travels.
The Caroga Lake Music Festival brings top-notch musical acts spanning a number of genres to Sherman’s Park — a former amusement park — on West Caroga Lake, located just inside the Adirondack Park. Now in its 12th season, the festival runs from May until September and will feature well-known performers such as Judy Collins, the Baha Men, the Zac Brown Tribute Band and up-and-coming roots act The War and the Treaty. Check the schedule — CLMF events will take place throughout the summer at other nearby venues.
Fulton County isn’t as renowned for hiking as, say, the High Peaks to its north, but there are some rewarding, less-traveled trails. The Fulton County Five is a five-hike challenge that showcases the beauty of upstate hiking. Destinations include the blue-green waters of Nine Corner Lake in the small hamlet of Pine Lake, and Kane Mountain in Caroga Lake, which has a 60-foot fire tower on its summit. Hikers might also want to visit Northville on the shores of Great Sacandaga Lake. Waterfront Park, in the village’s downtown, is a lovely place for a walk or a picnic, and also the southern terminus of the 135-mile long Northville-Placid Trail.
Want to try your hand at prospecting? Visit the Herkimer Diamond Mines, where gem collectors of all ages can rent a rock hammer and hunt for Herkimer diamonds, the clear, hard quartz crystals unique to the area. Visitors can keep what they find and even turn it into jewelry at the mines’ artisan center.
The small city of Little Falls on the banks of the Mohawk River has undergone a renaissance in recent years. Nestled in a rocky gorge, the community is both picturesque and rugged, with an eclectic mix of shops and eateries, and opportunities for outdoor recreation amid awe-inspiring scenery. Known for its 40-foot potholes and glacial striations, Moss Island is popular with rock climbers and other adventure seekers. History and architecture buffs can take the self-guided driving or walking tour of 34 noteworthy homes created by the Little Falls Historical Society Museum.
The village of Canajoharie boasts a world-class art museum. The Arkell Museum has an impressive American art collection that includes seven oil paintings by Winslow Homer and works by Mary Cassatt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Andrew Wyeth and others. There are free-floating docks at Riverfront Park, on the south shore of the Erie Canal and Mohawk River just east of Lock 14. An easy hike takes visitors to an observation deck overlooking a 40-foot waterfall at nearby Wintergreen Park.
The 330-acre Thomas H. Burbine Memorial Forest in the town of Charleston is an oasis of calm, an old-growth forest where people can fish, birdwatch, walk and play 18 holes of disc golf. The popularity of disc golf boomed during the pandemic, and the course in Burbine Forest, which opened in 2021, draws people from throughout the Capital Region and beyond.
A small city with lots going on, Utica is experiencing a rebirth after decades of industrial decline. The biggest event of the summer is the Boilermaker 15k, a popular road race that this year will be held July 9. The family-friendly event also features a 5k walk, kids’ run, youth Olympics and a 15k wheelchair race. The Boilermaker is hosted by and finishes at Saranac Brewery — a destination in and of itself. Other Utica attractions include the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, a regional arts center with eclectic programming and an art museum; the Stanley Center for the Arts, which hosts Off-Broadway shows and other events; the Utica Zoo; and the Utica Children’s Museum.
If you want to pick vegetables, fruit and flowers at upstate farms, Oneida County offers plenty of opportunities. Visit Spring Creek Lavender in Remsen to pick lavender, usually mid-June through mid-July, or Candella’s Farm & Greenhouses in Marcy for strawberries. There are also good spots for blueberry picking, such as Swistak Farm in Verona and North Star Orchards in Westmoreland. Wagner Farms, in Rome, is a sunflower mecca.
Most people already know about Cooperstown’s marquee attraction: the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. They might not know that the village is also home to two high-quality museums, The Farmers’ Museum and Fenimore Art Museum, and the home of the Glimmerglass Festival, a professional summer opera company. But there’s more to Cooperstown than art and history: The community is located on Otsego Lake, and is an excellent place to canoe and kayak. Both tyoes of vessel can be rented from Canoe & Kayak Rentals and Sales in Portlandville. Otsego Lake is the source of the Susquehanna River, but the water is slow-moving and easily accessible, making it an ideal spot for novice paddlers.
Located on a 136-acre farmstead about 10 minutes from downtown Cooperstown, Brewery Ommegang is well-known for its tasty Belgian-style ales. Worth a visit and a tour, the brewery comes alive during summer, when hip musical acts — this summer’s big concert is the Pixies and Modest Mouse, on Aug. 25 — perform and revelers gather for Firepit Fridays, evenings of live music, beer, food and a roaring open bonfire. There’s also a nine-hole disc golf course.
If you’re in the mood for a good old-fashioned festival showcasing the ingenuity of a bygone America, the annual Gas Up in Schoharie will hit the spot. Falling this year on June 10, 11, 17 and 18, the Gas Up is an exhibition of antique gas engines, farm equipment and machinery, much of it still functioning.
In past years attendees have been treated to a parade of old tractors, homemade ice-cream made on-site and a steam-powered sawmill cutting logs into lumber.
Schoharie County has some spectacular scenery, but the most jaw-dropping views might be underground in a network of caverns that can be toured with experienced guides. The cave tour at Howe Caverns is a 1.25-mile walk with a quarter-mile boat ride.
Those seeking a more physically demanding caving adventure can take the Signature Rock Discovery Tour.
Nearby Secret Caverns has more of a counterculture vibe and takes visitors on an hour-long tour that leads to a 100-foot underground waterfall.
Travel 2023: Off the beaten path; 16 ideas and more for summer getaways (16 articles)
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Categories: Fulton Montgomery Schoharie, Life and Arts, Life and Arts, News, News, Travel 2023