Sullivan County, NY areas
Sullivan County is very big — about the size of the state of Rhode Island! Within our boundaries is a wealth of varying terrain, from gently rolling to mountainous, forested to farmland, lakes to rivers. The different areas vary in feel as well. As you explore the county, you likely will gravitate to one area over another.
Keep an open mind particularly about distance from New York City. Lots of folks initially set an arbitrary distance from the city for their second home search, say, 2 hours. But if you travel just a little bit further, you may find more of what you’re looking for. The most beautiful farmland and woodlands areas, for example, are about 2 1/2 hours from NYC. I’ve divided the county into 5 general areas — Wurtsboro and the Southeast; Barryville, Eldred and the Southwest; the Traditional Catskills, north and east of Monticello; West County and the River Hamlets and North County – Livingston Manor, Roscoe and Lew Beach
Keep in mind that this is a broad brush stroke, and within any region of the county there is quite a lot of variation.
Pros: Convenient to the city, protected Basherkill area
Cons: More limited ‘country’ property, relatively expensive, particularly for larger acreages with privacy.
The closest area to New York City (about 1:15 from the GW Bridge), this region relates more to Orange County than the rest of Sullivan, with a number commuters to Middletown and further south. There is less ‘country’ property than in areas farther north, and some areas around Wurtsboro and Bloomingburg can have a more suburban feel (but often with great views from the tall ridgelines). The hamlet of Wurtsboro offers a great opportunity for someone looking to renovate an ‘in town home’, convenient to the city but with quick access to the rural charms of Sullivan County. Yankee Lake, Masten Lake and Wolf Lake, between Wurtsboro and Rock Hill, are ‘traditional’ lake communities with more tightly spaced lakefront houses — but many lakefront homeowners accept that trade off for the quick access from the city.
The areas southwest of Wurtsboro, along Route 209 towards Westbrookville, are very scenic with a rugged charm.
Pros: Good prices, relatively undeveloped, scenic Delaware River vistas, Glen Spey area convenient to the Port Jervis train station, many lakes
Cons: No large hamlet or village with a range of services, although there are grocery stores, restaurants and gas stations.
The area around Barryville and Eldred has become quite popular in the last few years. This area is less mountainous than areas further north, and is more forested than the open, rolling farmland in the central part of the county. The terrain results in a greater amount of property here that affords privacy in smaller acreage sizes and at more affordable prices. Large sections of this region are occupied by Boy Scout camps, conservation groups and hunting clubs, reducing the amount of land available for sale or development. This area is home to the Forestburgh Playhouse summer stock theatre and the North American Culture Lab (NACL) theater, but otherwise tends to have fewer cultural and community events. Population density here is relatively low, and as a result there are fewer services like supermarkets and shops. There is a Peck’s Supermarket in Eldred, and the trendier River Market in Barryville is a convenient stop for sandwiches, baked goods and essentials. Restaurants include the Carriage House, a popular bar and restaurant on Barryville and Hennings Local, a rustic locavore venue north of Eldred. Residents of this area also relate to Narrowsburg, further north and Hawley, PA to the west, for more services.
This is a great sportsman’s area, and Route 97 along the river from Port Jervis north to Barryville, along the curving Hawks Nest (where Audi often films commercials) is one of the most beautiful drives in the area. Homes with river views are available, but often have Route 97 between them and the river. There are a number of lovely lakes in this area, ranging from older style, denser (but quite affordable) lakes like Mohican and Highland, to newer lake areas like Lake Devenoge (one of my favorites), Timber Lake and York Lake.
The northern part of this region includes 3 of our most desired lakes — Black Lake, Swinging Bridge Reservoir and Toronto Reservoir. Black Lake is arguably the premier non-motorboat lake community in the county. Chapin Estate, our most expensive lake development, spans Toronto reservoir and Swinging Bridge reservoir (both motorboat lakes). Swinging Bridge is our largest lake, 1,100 acres, and has a range of less elaborate houses (not part of Chapin Estate) on its eastern shoreline at far more affordable prices.
Most of these lakes are private, although there is public access to both Swinging Bridge and Toronto for motorboating (along with 2 public marinas on Swinging Bridge), as well as Lake Superior Park for fishing, swimming and canoeing. An especially beautiful area is the Rio Reservoir in the Town of Lumberland, with very limited development along the shoreline. There’s a single lane road across the top of the Rio Dam, which makes very fun drive.
The southwest includes two of our most unique second home communities — the Merriewold Club and Black Forest Colony. Merriewold is unknown to most people in Sullivan County, discreetly tucked off of Route 42 south of Lake Joseph. Merriewold was founded in the early 1900’s as a summer retreat for the well heeled from the city who didn’t want to venture as far north as the Adirondacks. Notables such as Agnes DeMille and John Moody, founder of Moody’s Investment Services, had their summer homes here. Today, Merriewold harkens back to an earlier time, keeping to a very Victorian lake retreat feel, with a boat club on the small non-motorboat lake, and houses that range from cabins to lakeside manors tucked into the woods. There are only 64 houses here, and seldom come on to the public market.
Black Forest, on the other hand, tends to be very affordable for what you get. Black Forest was started in the 1930’s by German immigrants (hence the name), and a number of the original houses have a gemutlichkeit faux-Alpine feel. The wonderful bonus about Black Forest is that the homeowners share 800 acres of land, mostly forest with some rivers and waterfalls. Its kind of like having your own private state park. Black Forest is discretely tucked off of County Road 32 between Eldred and Glen Spey. Black Forest permits hunting, ATVing and snowmobiling (within guidelines) on the community land, so is a great option for hunters and sportspeople.
Ecce, one of the loveliest B&Bs in the county, is perched on a ridge just north of Barryville with dramatic views of the Delaware River.
Pros: Convenient to Route 17, close to hospital and retail, a number of lake communities, site of the new casino, some interesting mid century houses.
Cons: Relatively dense, towns can be run down, turaround risks.
This region was the ‘heart of the Catskills’ in its heyday, home to such famed resorts as Grossingers and the Concord, as well as dozens of smaller hotels and bungalow colonies. But with the decline of the Traditional Catskills as a vacation hotspot, this area fell on hard times. The villages and hamlets, like Liberty, Monticello, South Fallsburg, Woodridge, Woodbourne, Hurleyville and Loch Sheldrake, have not experienced the cute country turnarounds that villages and hamlets further north and west in Sullivan County have enjoyed.
Rock Hill, in the southern part of this region, anchors two lake communities, the 60-80’s era Emerald Green/Lake Louise Marie, and the charming older Wanaksink Lake Club, and also features the The Lodge at Rock Hill and a number of restaurants.
There are some bright spots on the horizon in this part of the county. The Montreign/Adelaar casino development, with a hotel, water park and golf course, have been approved for the old Concord Hotel site SE of Monticello. The venerable but shuttered Kutsher’s Resort, NE of Monticello, is being redeveloped by Veria Lifestyle into a spa and wellness resort.
South of Monticello is the Monticello Motor Club, a private members-only race course for well-heeled exotic car owners that opened in 2008. There are also two major gold courses in the area, Grossinger’s in Liberty and the Monster at the Concord in Kiamesha Lake.
There are a number of other lakes in this area, in addition to the lakes around Rock Hill. South of Monticello is Sackett Lake, a motorboat lake with range of houses, most modest, as well as Lake Joseph, a small 80’s era community on a fairly large non-motorboat lake, as well as Pleasure Lake in South Fallsburg. Swan Lake, SW of Liberty, is a quite beautiful lake, but has had its ups and downs, with the shuttered Stevensville Hotel on one side and a residential development on the eastern side that never took off.
You can find very reasonable, sometimes dirt cheap, property in the Traditional Catskills part of Sullivan County, but there are trade offs. You don’t find the same ‘country cute’ ambience you find elsewhere, there are more troubled pockets, and much of the area hasn’t reached the turnaround tipping point. Rock Hill is an exception, and there are a handful of intriguing neighborhoods and areas.
Pros: Small town country feel, beautiful vistas, Delaware River
Cons: Relatively high prices, few homes for sale
The west is the most pastoral area of the county, with farming rather than tourism the most prominent industry during the last century. This is where you tend to find farmhouses on acreage, or houses with panoramic views. Terrain is rolling hills sweeping west towards the Delaware River, but very few lakes. The villages and hamlets west county have a small town, country vibe, with Narrowsburg, Callicoon and Jeffersonville among the most popular areas in the county for second home buyers. Prices here, however, reflect this pastoral popularity, with renovated farmhouses on larger acreage priced upwards of $500,000. A nice 3 or 4 bedroom house on a country road with a few acres and possibly a view starts at about $250,000. You can, however, find a nice house in one of the hamlets in the $150K range, or a small, older ranch house on a few country acres for about the same price.
The Delaware River is the crown jewel of this area, and prime riverfront properties can be among the most expensive in the county. A house in one of the river hamlets like Callicoon or Narrowsburg, however, offers convenience to the river without the high price tag of an actual riverfront house (and the wide open farmlands are just a short drive or bike ride away.)
West County has the most ‘Norman Rockwell, small town America’ feel of any area in the county, with farmers markets, country auctions, and pancake breakfasts throughout the summer. Narrowsburg is home of the Delaware Valley Opera, one of the only community opera companies in the country, as well as the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance and hosts a number of festivals throughout the year, including Riverfest, Eaglefest and the very popular Pig Mountain locavore chowdown. Narrowsburg is the county’s country hipster central, witth locals sporting T-shirts that proclaim “Narrowsburg not Williamsburg.”
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, the outdoor performing arts venue built on the site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival, is located in this part of county. Bethel Woods is also home to the Woodstock Museum. White Lake and Kauneonga Lake, at the eastern end of this region, have evolved as the county’s happening restaurant and entertainment area, with a number of restaurants offering on-the-lake dining.
A challenge in this part of the county over the past few years has been the possibility of hydrofracking gas drilling, but that threat seems to have passed with New York squashing the possibility of fracking in the state.
Click here for more specific information about Jeffersonville real estate or Callicoon Real Estate or Narrowsburg real estate.
Pros: Wild and scenic, convenient to the Catskill Park, relatively low prices
Cons: Distance from the city, some areas far from local services, less cell and cable internet coverage
The North is the among the most beautiful areas of the county, a relatively undiscovered (and unspoiled) gem. Property in this area tends to be more reasonably priced, particularly the far northwest, in the Acidalia to Long Eddy area, beyond the magic 2 1/2 hour circle from NYC. Its also features some of the most expensive, like the upper Beaverkill Valley, where houses with pristine and protected views of the Catskill Park can fetch prices up to $2 million. Tennanah Lake, west of Roscoe, is a very pretty jewel of a motorboat lake, but properties here are seldom available and tend to be pricey. North of Tennanah is the smaller Lake Muskoday, one of our most affordable non-motorboat lakes. Also in the area is the Tennanah Lake golf course, an 18 hole course with spectacular mountain views that is seldom busy.
North County is more mountainous and rugged, and is criss crossed by some of the most renowned trout fishing streams in the world – the Beaverkill, Neversink and Willowemoc. Actual riverfront property along these rivers is rarely available and quite expensive, but there are public fishing access points. While the area has traditionally attracted sportsmen and women for hunting and fishing, its natural charms and proximity to the Catskill Park has increased its popularity among active-lifestylers into a range of outdoor pursuits.
Livingston Manor has undergone a substantial transformation, and is home to the Catskill Brewery, Brandenberg Bakery, Morgan Outfitters a bike shop, a few art galleries, the Main Street Farm market and the Catskill Arts Society. Livingston Manor is shaping up to give Narrowsburg a run for its hipster money. Roscoe is also a lovely spot, but a little more ‘Orvis fly fishing’ than ‘mountain biking’ in style.
This region generally has very low density, and a lot of acreage isn’t developable (due to the Catskill Park and NYC Reservoirs), so houses here can be more difficult to find. There just aren’t that many houses on the market at any given time, so if this is an area you want to be in, it can take time and patience.
I’ve written a page specifically about Livingston Manor Real Estate you may want to check out.