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North Lookout at Mohonk Preserve
This loop hike traverses less-used parts of the preserve, passing remains of historic settlements and the panoramic North Lookout.
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Take the New York State Thruway to Exit 18 (New Paltz). After paying the toll, turn left onto Route 299 and continue west through the Village of New Paltz. After crossing the bridge over the Wallkill River at the west end of the village, turn right onto Springtown Road, following signs for the Mohonk Mountain House. At the next intersection, turn left onto Mountain Rest Road, and follow it for 3.3 miles to the entrance to the Mohonk Mountain House at the top of the hill. Continue ahead downhill for one mile and turn right onto Upper 27 Knolls Road. The Spring Farm parking area of the Mohonk Preserve is a short distance ahead. A ranger is usually stationed at a trailhead kiosk to collect day-use fees
BusBus service to New Paltz from New York City, Nanuet, Newburgh and Kingston is available via Adirondack Trailways, www.trailwaysny.com (800) 776-7548. Limited weekday bus service to New Paltz from Kingston and Highland is available via Routes R and H of Ulster County Area Transit, www.co.ulster.ny.us/ucat (888) 827-8228. Ulster County Area Transit also offers bus service from the Metro-North station in Poughkeepsie to New Paltz via their Ulster-Poughkeepsie Link. Taxi service from New Paltz to Mohonk is available from New Paltz Taxi, www.npztaxi.com (845) 255-1550.
From the parking area, walk back (past the kiosk) onto Upper 27 Knolls Road. Almost immediately, you will see a sign marking the trailhead of the Chapel Trail. Turn right and follow a wide mowed path across a field. Soon, the trail enters the woods. You will note some blue blazes on the trees, but the blazing is relatively infrequent.
After a level section, the trail begins a steady descent, crossing two streams on the way (one on rocks; the other on a wooden bridge). At the base of the descent, the trail turns left, passes through a gap in a stone wall, and levels off. Upon reaching a low stone wall, the trail bears right and begins to parallel a field. It descends gently to cross a bridge over a stream, then climbs steadily and crosses an open area to reach paved Mohonk Road.
Cross the road and reach a gravel turnout, then bear left and follow a grassy road into the woods (there is a sign for the Chapel Trail here). To the left, you'll pass an historic cemetery of the Stokes family. Among those buried here is John F. Stokes, who sold the Mohonk Lake property to Alfred Smiley in 1869 (the Smiley family still owns the property today). Continue ahead to paved Clove Road, where the Chapel Trail ends.
Turn right and follow the paved road, which immediately crosses Mossy Brook. To the left, is the historic Clove Chapel, with its vertical board-and-batten siding. Continue along the road for about 150 feet and turn left onto the Undivided Lot Trail (marked by a sign). This trail is also blazed blue, but again the blazing is somewhat sparse, and there are no blazes at the start of the trail. The trail begins by crossing a wet area on puncheons, then climbs gently on a woods road.
In about half a mile, you'll reach a Y-intersection. Here, the Undivided Lot Trail bears right, but you should take the left fork, now following the red blazes of the Stokes Trail. A short distance ahead, you'll notice some stone foundations to the right. These are the remnants of a small settlement inhabited in the early 1800s by the Yeaple and Stokes families.
The trail now turns left to cross a stream on rocks, then bears right to parallel the stream. This section of the trail follows a well-built carriage road (note the stone abutments at the edge of the road), ascending gradually. After again approaching the stream, the trail turns sharply left and proceeds gently uphill in the opposite direction.
Soon, you'll notice a stone causeway built across the valley ahead. This causeway was built to carry the road across the valley, but weathering has taken its toll, and its surface is now quite uneven. You might want to explore this interesting causeway, but be sure to continue on the trail, which turns right and follows a narrower and rougher road more steeply uphill.
The trail reaches a junction with another old woods road and bears left to follow it. This road is quite eroded, and it soon reaches a power line where three red blazes mark the end of the Mohonk Preserve's section of the Stokes Trail. Continue ahead across the power line and bear right, now following an unmarked footpath through mountain laurel, with the power line to your right.
As you proceed ahead parallel to the power line, you'll notice massive outcrops of Shawangunk Conglomerate rock to the right. Eventually, the trail begins to run directly under the power line, where you'll encounter a junction with the Maple Trail, which joins from the left and almost immediately leaves to the right. You should continue ahead under the power line, now following a wide woods road.
Continue along the road as it bears left, away from the power line. Soon, you'll reach a junction where another dirt road enters from the left and continues straight ahead. Proceed ahead, and when you reach the next intersection (with a paved road), continue straight ahead, passing several cottages of the Mohonk Mountain House to your left.
At the following intersection, you'll see a sign that marks the start of North Lookout Road. Turn left, then continue ahead on a dirt road when the paved road curves left. North Lookout Road now bears left and runs below a massive cliff. It continues along a level route, following a contour along the side of a hill (if the road has been groomed for cross-country skiing, please do not walk in the ski tracks).
As Hemlock Lane branches off to the right, a wooden fence has been erected along the left side of the road. Just ahead, a gazebo on the left marks the North Lookout, with a panoramic north-facing view. A bench in the gazebo offers the opportunity for a rest, and you will want to pause to enjoy the spectacular view.
Continue ahead on North Lookout Road which, after making a sharp bend, descends to end at a T-intersection with Rock Rift Road. Turn right onto Rock Rift Road, but at the next junction, turn sharply left onto Glen Anna Road. Follow Glen Anna Road as it descends alongside the deep Glen Anna ravine, then bears left and ends at an intersection with Cedar Drive.
Turn right onto Cedar Drive and soon cross a bridge over the Glen Anna ravine. In another mile, you'll reach Mohonk Road. For many years, hikers had to cross the road at grade, but in 2013, the bridge over Mohonk Road was rebuilt, and hikers can now walk over the road.
After another three-quarters of a mile of pleasant walking on Cedar Drive, you'll reach a junction with the red-blazed Northwest Trail, marked by a sign on the left side of the road. Turn left, descend stone steps, and follow the Northwest Trail, which descends through a wooded area, then turns right just prior to reaching Upper 27 Knolls Road. It follows the edge of a field, paralleling the road, until it reaches the kiosk at the start of the parking area where the hike began.