Upstater: Town of the week, High Falls

The last time we looked at the tiny hamlet of High Falls in Ulster County was about two years ago. We only lightly touched on it back then, and we think it’s high time we give it another look this week. Located along Route 213, High Falls lies just south of Stone Ridge and west of Rosendale, approximately 20 minutes from Kingston.

One would be tempted to lump it in with other “Blink and you’ll miss it” type places, but in truth, unless you’re driving with your eyes tightly sealed shut, you can’t simply drive through it without the urge to stop. Sure, it’s small, but it’s crammed with goodies. For those who hunger, there’s the Depuy Canal House, the Egg’s Nest, and our favorite, the High Falls Cafe(best huevos rancheros around). These places aren’t just restaurants, though. They’re glimpses into the history of the area. The Canal House, for example, was named for the Delaware-Hudson Canal that once ran through High Falls and turned the hamlet into a boom town of sorts. The Stone House Tavern, which was built in 1797, was purchased by High Falls resident John Novi in 1969 and transformed into the Canal House that we know and love today. The old tavern has been lovingly restored and maintains the feel of an era long past. However, the House is not only a great restaurant, it’s also part museum, with odds and ends and photos of its history plastered on the walls.

These days, High Falls is more than its history. The High Falls Cafe is an institution around these parts, with a delicious menu of local food and one of the best places to catch a local band play live music. It’s also a watering hole, where locals and visitors alike hang out at the bar or the patio, sipping beer and talking about life in the Hudson Valley. Furthermore, High Falls has a high-end kitchen supply store, art galleries, inns, antique stores, and a decent food co-op. Not bad for a town that boasts a population of less than 650 residents. Oh, and yes, there’s a waterfall there. You can access it by walking down through the woods across from the Canal House (ask while you’re eating there if you’re not sure where to go). Speaking of walking, High Falls is foot-friendly, so park your car and stretch your legs. The best way to see the hamlet is via relaxed stroll, not from the window of a speeding automobile.

High Falls’ real estate inventory is always a little on the low side. No surprises there. It’s a small town. But what it lacks in inventory it makes up with the quality of homes on the market. It’s rare that we find a town where nearly every house on the market is one we’d like to profile, but alas, we must be choosy. So, what is for sale these days? A couple of high-end estates reaching up and over the million dollar mark, lots of gorgeous new-builds and renovations in the $400-600,000 range, not much in the mid-range, but several promising properties for less than $200,000. We’ll have to look elsewhere for five-figure houses, for there are currently zero on the market in High Falls.

Interested in scoping things about before you head over High Falls’ way? Here’s a nifty guide to everything in the hamlet, including places to park and walk. Enjoy the relaxed pace, and prepare to be charmed.