Road Trip: Hillsdale Heats Up!
What the do-dad is happening to Hillsdale? Long the very definition of a sleepy crossroads, it’s suddenly showing signs of, well, awakening.
Around these parts, it’s usually a sign that things are looking up when a town gets a place to buy fresh fish. Recently, Hillsdale’s excellent B & G Gourmet, the bread-produce-cheese emporium of every country dweller’s dreams, began offering fresh fish to those who order by 6 p.m. the day before for delivery to the store on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Their source: the same outfit that supplies John Andrews, as well as other top local restaurants.
Now, hot on the heels of fresh fish, comes a new gift shop, Passiflora (above), which just opened earlier this month on the Village Square. Ever since the owners Ken Davis and J. Kevin Draves bought their place in Copake nine years ago, they have been trying to figure out how to make Columbia County their full- time home. Passiflora, all 650 square feet of it, is their dream fulfilled. In it, shoppers will find a carefully edited selection of items for the house and garden from all over the world—Nepal, Vietnam, Columbia, Thailand, and France, with soaps from Provence, and Lampe Berger oil lamps from Paris. All the fragrances here are natural and subtle—upon entering, you won’t have that alarming, all-too-familiar sensation of being blasted back to the parking lot by an explosion of olfactory artifice. Ken and Kevin also have some interesting stuff by local artisans—tables fashioned from reclaimed 1830s barnboard, birdhouses, feeders, and baths, wind chimes, glassware and vases made from recycled soda and wine bottles. There are also some plants—the kind in dirt that are actually alive and likely to remain so for some time—that they’ve artfully arranged in good containers.
But for longtime residents, the biggest deal by far in the new Hillsdale is the expansion of Catamount. Since 1939 Catamount has been an unpretentious New England family-oriented ski resort—no slouch, mind you, with both the steepest and the longest trails in the Berkshires, but it’s also no Gstaad—it’s cozy, the kind of place regulars like to drop by after dinner for a quick schuss. Last weekend, it officially unveiled its new warm-weather incarnation: Catamount Adventure Park, the “biggest aerial forest adventure park in North America.” Designed by Swiss alpine mountaineers, CAP promises to “take adventure to new heights,” for those, ages 8 and up, so inclined, with 8 climbing courses of varying degrees of difficulty, the object being to get from platform to platform (120 in all). On the most courses, that means climbing “bridges” that are vertical or, when horizontal, sometimes nothing more than a high-wire. Think: balancing on lots of wiggly bridges over sheer drops (harnesses required, of course). There are also zip lines—a cable on which you glide from platform-to-platform. Gulp.
As luck would have it, this weekend promises to be the ideal time to check out all that is new and improved in Hillsdale. On Saturday, the entire hamlet will turn out for a flea market, with no fewer than 40 vendors selling household goods, clothing, crafts, collectibles, and antiques to benefit the Hamlet Committee’s beautification fund.
Which only goes to prove our point: Where there is fresh fish, good things like big roadside pots spilling with pansies and geraniums inevitably follow.
B & G Gourmet
2633 Route 23 (north side, directly across from Passiflora), Hillsdale; 518.325.4881
Open daily, 9 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Village Square (south side of Route 23, west of Route 22); 518.325.6559
Friday - Saturday 11 - 7; Sunday - Monday 11 - 6
Catamount Adventure Park
Route 23, 2 miles E of the Route 22 intersection, Hillsdale; 518.325.3200
This weekend Friday - Monday, 9 - 6. (Arrive no later than 3)
Admission: $43/adults; $29/8-13 years old for a 3-hour session
From June 12, open daily.
Restaurant and tavern open 11:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.(no climbing permitted after consuming alcohol)
Hillsdale Flea Market
In the park behind Town Hall on Route 23 (south side, just west of Herrington Hardware’s driveway)
Saturday, May 23, 9:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.; raindate, May 24
Regular admission/free; early-birds (8:30 a.m.)/$10