Local Info & Wildlife

Area Information

Menla is 1,500 feet above sea level and set on a 325-acre private nature reserve. At 3,720 feet above sea level, the peak of Panther Mountain is one of the tallest in the Catskills. Menla is located in a region of the Catskills renowned for its unspoiled beauty, variety of wildlife, abundance of rushing streams and rivers, and ancient forested mountains.

The Catskills are one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world and used to be connected to the Alps before the continental divide. Aside from its natural splendor, the area offers such activities as hiking, swimming, kayaking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing. For avid downhill skiers, the noted Belleayre and Hunter Mountain resorts are just half an hour away.

An easy drive from New York City, Menla is located in Phoenicia, NY—voted one of the “Top 10 Coolest Small Towns in America”—and just 20 minutes away is the most famous small town in America, Woodstock, known for its deep-rooted culture of music, art galleries, and great restaurants.

Local Activities

Phoenicia New York

  • Skiing (Belleayre, Hunter, and Windham Mountains)
  • Hiking
  • Swimming in local rivers
  • Tubing on the Esopus River
  • Art galleries
  • Fine dining
  • Antique shopping
  • Music
  • Theater (Upstate Films, Woodstock Playhouse)

Catskill Wildlife

The Catskills cover more than 6,000 square miles and six different counties, with almost half of this land dedicated to the Catskills Park and Forest Preserve. Menla is home to many different animals, including those below. Menla’s woodland valley is an authorized Audubon Society bird sanctuary.

Larger Mammals

The white-tailed deer is the most plentiful of the large mammals living in the Catskill Mountains. The Catskill ecosystem is also home to the bobcat, coyote, and fisher cat. Beaver live in the rivers, ponds, and streams.

The black bear is a native of the region, though there is no cause for alarm, as bears are rarely seen and tend to be more afraid of humans than humans are of them.

Smaller Mammals

Smaller mammals living in the Catskill territory include the mink, woodchuck, muskrat, red fox, gray fox, and opossum. Various types of moles, such as the eastern mole and the star-nosed species, inhabit this section of New York, as do meadow and woodland voles.

Reptiles & Amphibians

Turtles, such as the snapping turtle, bog turtle, painted turtle, and box turtle, also reside on the Menla grounds. Bullfrogs, tree frogs, green frogs, newts, salamanders, and snakes can be found as well.

Catskill Birds

In 2006 Menla was officially recognized as an Audubon Important Bird Area. So far our list includes well over a hundred different kinds of birds, including the elusive Bicknell’s thrush (one of the Holy Grails of bird watchers), which is mysteriously found only on or very near the neighboring Slide Mountain.

Local Activities & Interests Within Easy Driving Distance

  1. The Catskill Forest Preserve is 300,000 acres of unspoiled woods, which the New York State constitution has deemed “Forever Wild,” never to be commercially developed. The Catskills offer numerous hiking trails, from easy strolls through the woods to very challenging hikes with rewarding views. Maps are available at Morne Imports in Phoenicia, but Menla has its own trails on the property, including one with a lookout from the northern ridge.
  2. Tubing down Esopus Creek is the most popular activity in Phoenicia. There is a relaxing, calm section of the creek for family fun and an enjoyable view and wilder whitewater rapids for the more adventurous, totaling five miles of tubing pleasure. The Town Tinker Tube Rental is located in central Phoenicia.
  3. There is also horseback riding on Indian paths and old logging trails in the beautiful Forest Preserve. The Saddle Up Ranch offers year-round riding daily. They have a shop selling tack and western wear, including boots and hats, as well as Native American-made jewelry, dream catchers, and leather goods. Sign up for riding lessons or day camps, or go snowmobiling in the winter.
  4. Fly-fishing in the Esopus Creek is known to provide rainbow trout in the spring and native brown trout in the fall. There’s even a fly-fishing tournament in May. A local guide gives lessons at Morne Imports on Main Street in Phoenicia.
  5. In the wintertime, you can go snowtubing or skiing. Tubers should head to Romer Mt. Park, off Route 28, about a mile south of downtown. The closest place to ski is Belleayre Mountain, the highest skiing peak in the Catskills. Ski and snowboard rentals are available from the Belleayre Ski Shop. Two-day packages, group rates, season tickets, and specials are available too. Hunter Mountain also offers great skiing and is close to Phoenicia.
  6. The Catskill Mountain Railroad offers a 45-minute scenic rail ride along the Esopus Creek on weekends and holidays during summer. One of the train’s stops is the Empire State Railway Museum, located in the 1899 Ulster & Delaware railroad station, where you can catch a glimpse of the rich history of the railroad. Perfect for children!

For more information about local activities, please visit escapemaker.com.

Local Restaurants

  1. Brio’s offers something for everyone. Order omelettes or pancakes for breakfast, or burgers and sandwiches for lunch. For dinner choose from Tex-Mex, seafood platters, barbecued ribs, New York sirloin strips, gourmet pizzas, and much more. Right next door, you’ll find the Sportsman’s Alamo Cantina Tex-Mex Bar and Grill.
  2. Ricciardella’s is a fine-dining establishment. Sample entrees include pine nut-crusted swordfish, pan-roasted fillet of grouper, spinach fettuccine, sliced grilled skirt steak, and lobster stuffed with a king crab stuffing. Sunday is all-you-can-eat seafood and Italian buffet day.
  3. Our top recommendation is the Peekamoose, located in Big Indian, just ten minutes up Rt. 28 from Menla.

There are also wonderful and more upscale restaurants and shops in nearby Woodstock.

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