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Minnewaska Preserve

 

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The 21,106 acre Minnewaska State Park Preserve is situated in Ulster County on the dramatic Shawangunk Mountain ridge that rises more than 2,000 feet above sea level. The terrain is rugged and rocky, blanketed by dense hardwood forest encircling two lakes. Clear streams cut into valleys, incising sheer cliffs and ledges and emerging in waterfalls.

This park was once the site of two mountain top hotels up until the last closed down in 1979.  After years of wrangling over commercial development proposals and lawsuits to block development, New York State bought the property in 1987 and opened the Minnewaska State Park Preserve in 1993. Find more on the history of the park at the Minnewaska State Park Preserve webpage from Wikipedia.  You'll also find information on the park from the NY-NJ Trail Conference website.

Hiking, biking, horseback riding and cross-country skiing are very popular activities. Visitors to the park also enjoy swimming, picnicking, boating and marveling at the scenery.  The preserve is one of the most unique and beautiful parks in New York State, featuring numerous waterfalls, three crystal clear lakes and more cliff edge views than you can imagine.  There are 35 miles of old carriage roads as well as 25 miles of footpaths on which you can bike, walk, hike and explore this special place.

Some of the most popular scenic spots in the park include Hamilton Point, Castle Point, Gertrude's Nose, Millbrook Mountain, Murray Hill, Verkeerder Kill Falls, Margaret Cliff, Awosting Falls, Stony Kill Falls, Beacon Hill, Litchfield Ledge, Rainbow Falls, and the High Peters Kill cliffs.

It's worth a visit to explore Minnewaska State Park Preserve.  There is no camping permitted in this state park.  Keep this in mind when planning your adventure at this park, as you may need to find lodging nearby.  Vernooykill State Forest and Sundown Wild Forest are located nearby for those looking for free primitive camping.  You can find state campgrounds close by in the Catskill Forest Preserve such as Woodland Valley Campground, Little Pond Campground and Kenneth Wilson Campground.

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HIKING IN MINNEWASKA STATE PARK

To enjoy the beauty of Minnewaska on foot, you'll need basic hiking equipment such as a map, comfortable footwear, water, lunch or snacks.  You may also want to pack some emergency supplies in case of an accident or if you become lost.  Many of the scenic spots require long hikes.  Be sure that you allow enough time for your hike

A wealth of spectacular scenery becomes available to those making the effort to explore Minnewaska State Park. Below are six hikes that are just a sampling of what is available.  Study the trail maps and create your own adventure in the park.  A section of the Long Path meanders through the park.

You'll find some hikes featuring the trails in the park in the AMC's Best Day Hikes in the Catskills & Hudson Valley guide book.  You can also purchase the Trail Map of the Shawangunks from the NY-NJ Trail Conference.  Check out the The Long Path Guide for more on hiking the Long Path.  You'll find these valuable in planning your adventure in the park.  Check out Gone Hikin' Blog for a nice story and pictures of a fall hike at Minnewaska.

Here's some popular hikes located in the park according to the NY-NJ Trail Conference website:

  1. Mossy Glen/Blueberry Run/Castle Point Carriageway Loop (8.7 miles, moderate)

  2. Mossy Glen/Long Path/Castle Point/Hamilton Point Loop (10 miles, moderate to strenuous)

  3. Castle Point Carriageway/Lake Awosting Carriageway/Upper Awosting Carriageway Loop (8.5 miles, moderate)

  4. Gertrude's Nose Loop/Millbrook Mountain (8 miles, moderate to strenuous)

  5. Mossy Glen/Blueberry Run/Long Path/Hamilton Point Loop (9.1 miles, moderate)

  6. Beacon Hill and Lake Minnewaska Easy Loop (3 miles, easy to moderate)

View from Castle Point


Hiking Trails in Minnewaska State Park

Awosting Reserve Access Trail (1.7 miles) - This white/brown blazed trail gives hikers access to the Awosting Reserve from Aumic Road and leads to the 3.5 mile Awosting Reserve Loop Trail.  This trail also gives hikers access to interior trails that lead to Lake Awosting.

Awosting Reserve Loop Trail (3.5 miles) - This interior trail loops and gives access to the Mud Pond Trail, Scenic Trail as well as Lake Awosting.

Beacon Hill Trail (0.7 miles) - This yellow blazed trail takes you to scenic views on Beacon Hill and can be accessed from the Beacon Carriage Road as well as the Lake Minnewaska Carriage Road from the Lake Minnewaska Parking Area.  This is the shortest hike to spetacular views in the park.

Berry Picker Trail (2.2 miles) - This interior blue blazed trail is accessed from the long Smiley Carriage Road and travels into Sam's Point Preserve section of the park, ending near the High Point Carriage Road at the High Point Trail.

Blueberry Run Trail (2.2 miles) - This blue blazed trail ends at the crest of scenic Castle Point at the junction of the Long Path/Castle Point Carriage Road.  The interior trail starts off the Jenny Lane Trail.

Bull Wheel Trail (0.5 miles) - This short white blazed trail starts off the park office parking area and ends at the junction of the High Peters Kill Trail.  At a crest of a rise the trail passes a tower that was anchored to a concrete slab via bolts once supported a pulley for a ski lift – part of the Ski Minne downhill ski area, which operated from 1964 to 1978. The pulley is commonly referred to as a “bullwheel”.

Gertrude's Nose Trail (2.7 miles) - This popular red blazed trail begins on Millbrook Mountain Carriage Road, at a point 2.1 miles from the parking area at Lake Minnewaska.

High Peters Kill Trail (2.8 miles) - This trail features the views from High Peters Kill Cliffs.

High Point Trail (2.4 miles) - This red blazed interior trail is access from the junction at the end/start of the Scenic Trail and Verkeerder Kill Falls Trail.  The trail can also be accessed off the High Point Carriage Road and also travels by the Berry Picker Trail.

Indian Rock Trail (0.6 miles) - This yellow blazed trail is accessed from the High Point Carriage Road and dead ends at Indian Rock.

Jenny Lane Trail (2.9 miles) - This trail features part of the famous Long Path that coincides with the trail.  The Jenny Lane parking area is a convenient place to begin a hike.

Loop Road Trail (3.0 miles) - This trail follows old roads and loops around Lake Maratanza in Sam's Point Preserve with parking and access off Sams Point Road.

Long Path (9+ miles) - The 350+ mile Long Path meanders through the park following a number of popular trails in the park taking hikers to some of the best scenic spots in the park.

Millbrook Mountain Trail (1.2 miles) - This interior trail accessed from the end of Lake Minnewaska has scenic views from Millbrook Mountain.  This trail is used by many in conjunction with Gertrudes Nose Trail to create a popular, although tough loop hike.

Mossy Glen Trail (1.7 miles) - This trail travels near a scenic stream and is accessed from the Lower Awosting Carriage Road parking area.

Mud Pond Trail (1.4 miles) - This trail travels from the Awosting Reserve Loop Trail to the Scenic Trail near Mud Pond.

Old Minnewaska Trail (1.7 miles) - This trail passes thru the Jenny Lane parking area and is used by the famous Long Path.

Rainbow Falls Trail (2.0 miles) - This interior trail located near Lake Awosting travels by Rainbow Falls.  The waterfalls can be dry in the summer months.

Red Loop Trail (0.8 miles) - This trail loops around near the park office.

Scenic Trail (4.3 miles) - This trail takes hikers from Castle Point Carriage Road past Margaret Cliffs to Lake Awosting and on to Mud Pond.  The trail ends at the junction of the Verkeerder Kill Falls Trail and High Point Trail.

South Gully Trail (2.6 miles) - This trail follows South Gully from Sams Point to NY 52.

Verkeerder Kill Falls Trail (2.0 miles) - This trail travels by the 75 foot waterfalls and can be accessed from Sams Point Preserve. It also passes by the creepy Ice Caves where ladders take you on a voyage through the dark passageways.  It is recommended that you carry a flashlight while in the cave, which takes about 30 minutes to finish.

Yellow Connector Trail (0.2 miles) - This short trail connects the Red Loop Trail near the Park Office with the High Peters Kill Trail.


Minnewaska State Park Preserve also has numerous old carriage roads that are now used as biking or hiking trails.  Below you'll find some information on these old carriage roads.

Awosting Falls Carriage Road (1.3 miles) - This old road travels by the beautiful Awosting Falls.

Beacon Carriage Road (0.7 miles) - This old road gives hikers access to the Beacon Hill Trail.

Castle Point Carriage Road (3.9 miles) - This old road travels between Lake Minnewaska and Lake Awosting as well as passing by the views from Castle Point. The old road is the highest within the Minnewaska State Park Preserve, skirting along the tops of the series of bluffs that define the western rim of the Palmaghatt Ravine, with spectacular views.  This old road is popular with mountain bikers.

Hamilton Point Carriage Road (3.7 miles) - This scenic old road follows the northern rim of the Palmaghatt Ravine, an immense V-shaped ravine whose side walls consist of a double row of high, vertical cliffs.  This is one of the most scenic routes between Lake Minnewaska and Lake Awosting.

High Point Carriage Road (2.9 miles) - This old road travels by High Point in the western part of the park.

Lake Awosting Carriage Road (3.5 miles) - This old road circles the lake.

Lake Minnewaska Carriage Road (1.9 miles) - This old road loops around the lake.

Lower Awosting Carriage Road (2.7 miles) - This old road takes visitors from a parking area off US 44 to Lake Awosting following Peters Kill. 

Millbrook Mountain Carriage Road (2.2 miles) - This old road leaves the end of Lake Minnewaska, passes by Hamilton Point Carriage Road as well as the Gertrudes Nose Trail and continuing back to Lake Minnewaska as the Millbrook Mountain Trail.  Many use this old road as a loop hike to Gertrude's Nose.

Smiley Carriage Road (7.4 miles) - Named after the original owners of Mohonk Mountain House, this old road is the longest in the park and travels from Ellenville to Lake Awosting. 

Stony Kill Carriage Road (1.5 miles) - Access from this old road is at the end of Shaft Road and passes nearby the 90 foot Stony Kill Falls.  The old road then ascends to Smiley Carriage Road.

Sunset Carriage Road (0.8 miles) - This old road travels to the west of the old Wildmere House giving visitors spectacular views west and some real nice sunsets.

Upper Awosting Carriage Road (3.1 miles) - This road travels from Lake Minnewaska to Lake Awosting passing numerous view points including Litchfield Ledge with a spectacular view of Lake Awosting.

You'll find signs like this at the start of each trail at the park

 

Awosting Falls

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