Hunter’s Scenic Byway project emphasizes the Cloves (Kaaterskill, Platte Clove, and Stony Clove) as distinct landforms. These post-glacial ravines and the surrounding mountains captivate residents and visitors alike. The word “clove” derives from the Dutch word kloof, which originally meant the cleft in a hoof but came to mean—in a uniquely Dutch-American usage—a notch or gorge in a mountain wall or ridge. The Catskill’s gorges were sculpted over many millennia by the erosive force of creeks and the recession of glaciers. The term “clove” is unique to the Catskills and surrounding region.
Defining features of these cloves are the numerous creeks and waterfalls that cut and cascade down the steep-sloping escarpment of the northeastern Catskills. This escarpment, with its cliffs and high peaks, is a distinct divide. The Catskill mural front is the defining geological feature when looking from the Hudson and many eastern points. The Algonquin called it the “Wall of Manitou,” believing their sky god Manitou erected it as a defense against hostile spirits.
This divide creates some of the highest waterfalls in the Catskills, including Kaaterskill, Haines, Black Chasm, and Plattekill Falls. The sight of these pretty cascades in an unspoiled setting gives one a feeling of interconnectedness with nature and an appreciation of the past. For instance, where Route 23A intersects Bastion Falls, traffic often slows to a crawl as travelers marvel at the site of one small cascade and usual bustle of hikers embarking on the trail to the main Kaaterskill Falls.
Mountain Cloves Scenic Byway has a profound story to tell. The vast natural and scenic wonder of this place profoundly influences the history and culture of our area. The main travel ways of Hunter and the northern Catskills played, and continue to play, an important role in the American tourism, arts and environmental movements.
Preserving and enhancing these routes will bolster the community’s sense of place. It will provide for sustainable economic development. In other words, if we allow the natural, scenic and recreational features to become diluted we will lose some of the distinctive character that draws people here and our economic base declines.
The Mountain Cloves Scenic Byway bisects the northern Catskills region. The Byway features some of the mountains and the open spaces of the Catskill high peaks. It highlights scenic vistas and the vast recreational offerings in the communities and region. The Byway offers access to these resources.
For more information on the Corridor Management Plan, please visit the NYSDOT website.