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Best Places to Live + Play: New Paltz, New York
National Geographic Adventure announces this year's top 50 adventure towns, state-by-state.  Text by Dan Koeppel

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The Adventure Radius

In town:
The hiking-, biking- and horseback-friendly Wallkill Valley Rail Trail leads 12 miles (19 kilometers) through tulip trees and red cedar.

Within 50 miles (80 kilometers): Have we mentioned the Gunks? See photos >>

Within 100 miles (161 kilometers): Pack a paddle: The Upper Delaware flows Class III between the Catskills and Poconos.

Where to sleep: Lefèvre House ($210;

Where to eat: Try the crepes at the Mudd Puddle, a coffee-and-pastry hangout.

New Paltz, New York

Reach for the Edge in New Paltz
- Population: 12,830
- Median home price: $320,000

Less than two hours north of New York City, this beatnik borough has long been a magnet for weary urbanites looking to exorcise their tension on the rocks, trails, and waterways of the southern Catskills. New Paltz recreation is dominated by the Gunks (short for the Shawangunk Mountains), a granite escarpment five miles west. With more than 800 climbing routes, the Gunks are more than just a community playground—they're world-renowned.

New Paltz is a model of athletic bohemia (consider the town's recent Green Party mayor and the local university's 2006 ranking on High Times magazine's list of the "Top Ten Counterculture Colleges"). "It's the longstanding joke to call New Paltz the poor person's Boulder," says 23-year resident Richard Gottlieb, owner of Rock and Snow, a local climbing outfitter. "But it's not as self-conscious. It's smaller, so there's more intimacy."

Outside city limits, nonclimbers find solitude in 705,500-acre (285,507-hectare) Catskill Park, where summit treks to 4,204-foot Slide Mountain top out with views spanning the 30 tallest peaks in the range. Watch your back on the trails on Tuesday nights; that's when the local Fats in the Cats Bicycle Club convenes for rowdy speedfests.

 Wilderness  |  Small Towns  |  Mountains  |  Waterfront  |  Cities  |  Las Vegas 

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