Old Minnewaska Trail and Undivided Lot Trail

Overview

This loop hike follows trails and carriage roads through less-used areas of the Preserve, as well as the popular Undercliff Road, passing many interesting rock formations and scenic viewpoints.

Details
Time:
4 hours
Difficulty:
Moderate to Strenuous
Length:
7.5 miles
Route Type:
Circuit
Dogs:
Allowed on leash
Features:
Views, Swimming, Fees
Location
Park:
Region:
County:
Ulster
State:
NY
Maps/Books
Buy Trail Map:

Map:

Mohonk Preserve trail map (available at visitor center)


Publication
First Published:
04/22/2005
Submitter:
Daniel Chazin
Trailhead GPS Coordinates
41.742371,-74.199944
Driving Directions

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, continue ahead on Route 299 for another 5.5 miles until the road ends at a T intersection with Route 44/55. Turn right and follow Route 44/55 for half a mile to the Mohonk Preserve Visitor Center, on the right. Stop here to purchase a pass ($8 per person daily; $50 annual pass), obtain a free map and view the exhibits. Then continue ahead on Route 44/55, which makes a sharp hairpin turn and climbs to Trapps Bridge (a steel overpass). Continue for 0.5 mile past Trapps Bridge and turn right onto Clove Road. Follow Clove Road for one mile to Mohonk Preserve’s Coxing parking area, on the left.

Bus

Bus 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.

Description


From the parking area, cross the road and walk past a gate. Continue ahead along a gravel road, passing ruins of the Enderly barn on the right and their home on the left, and cross a wide wooden bridge over the Coxing Kill.

Just beyond the stream crossing, a yellow-blazed trail leads to the left, and the red-blazed Shongum Path departs to the right. Continue ahead on the gravel road, known as the Old Minnewaska Trail. Built in 1879 to link Mohonk with Minnewaska, this carriage road was abandoned in 1907. It is marked intermittently with light blue blazes.

After climbing gradually through hemlocks, the road descends to cross a stream. The stone abutments of a former bridge may be seen ahead, but the footpath dips down to the stream, which It crosses on rocks. Soon, you come out in an open area, with views across the Coxing Kill over Ronde Barre and Rock Hill.

The route now narrows to a footpath and begins a gradual climb. As the trail levels off, you can see an old quarry down to the left. The hand-cut drill holes at the edges of the large conglomerate stone blocks are still visible. The trail continues along a relatively level route, with some minor ups and downs.

After passing a stone block that was presumably dropped by a wagon along the road years ago, you'll reach a badly eroded stretch of the old road. Here, there is a broad viewpoint to the left, with pitch pines lining the slope below, and the Catskills visible in the distance. The trail now begins a steady but gentle climb, with huge slanted rock slabs appearing on the right.

In about half a mile, the trail begins to descend. Soon, you'll reach a spot where the old road has been eroded down to the bedrock. Here, a slanted rock slab to the left affords a superb view across the Rondout Valley to the Catskills. This is a good spot to take a break.

Just beyond this viewpoint, watch carefully for a trail junction that is easily missed. A triple light-blue blaze on the left marks the start of the Undivided Lot Trail (with a wooden sign on the right showing the route of Old Minnewaska Trail). Leave the Old Minnewaska Trail and turn left onto the Undivided Lot Trail (at this writing, it is not marked by a sign). Immediately, you'll reach a rock ledge studded with gnarled pitch pines, with views to the north and west.

Carefully follow the light blue blazes as the trail descends rather steeply over rock slabs, then levels off. There are more views over the Catskills to the left, and up to the right, you may be able to see two gazebos at the Copes Lookout. Soon, the trail bears right, passes through a hemlock grove, and climbs steeply along the edge of a cliff. It bears left at the top and reaches an area with deep fissures in the rock. Use caution here, as the crevices crossed by the trail are quite deep!

After passing a stone fireplace to the right, the trail begins a steady descent, soon coming out on open rocks, with views of the Rondout Valley below. As the trail continues to descend, you'll reach a particularly fine view from a lichen-encrusted rock outcrop over the Devil's Path mountains in the eastern Catskills.

A short distance beyond, the trail levels off, crosses a stream, and reaches a junction with the red-blazed Clove Path. Turn right and follow this trail steeply uphill. You'll be climbing about 450 feet in less than half a mile; this is steepest sustained climb on the hike. When you reach a junction with Plateau Path (also blazed red), marked by a sign, turn right and follow Plateau Path - a relatively level trail - until it comes out onto Laurel Ledge Road.

Turn right onto Laurel Ledge Road, a wide, maintained carriage road, which is open to bicyclists as well as hikers. Soon, the road begins to follow a narrow shelf, with steep cliffs above to the left and below to the right. It then crosses a talus slope, with gigantic boulders on both sides of the trail.

After the Giant's Path leaves to the left and Old Minnewaska Trail begins to the right, you'll pass the fascinating Rhododendron Swamp, where many rare plants are found, to the left. Imposing cliffs soon appear to the right, after which the road curves sharply left.

Continue ahead to the end of Laurel Ledge Road at Rhododendron Bridge. Do not cross the bridge; rather, continue straight ahead on Undercliff Road (marked by a sign). After the road makes a sharp S-curve, you'll reach the famous Trapps Cliffs, considered the best rock climbing area in the East. From here to the Trapps Bridge, you'll encounter many rock climbers along the road. You might want to stop and watch them scale the cliffs. There are views to the left over the Wallkill Valley.

After about two miles along Undercliff Road, Route 44-55 comes into view below to the left. In another half a mile, the road ends at a junction with Overcliff Road. Bear left here, but just before reaching the Trapps Bridge over Route 44/55, turn right at a sign for the West Trapps Connector Trail and descend a flight of stone steps. Continue ahead on a gravel road, which descends rather steeply and then levels off.

At a sign marking the start of the Shongum Path, turn right and follow this red-blazed trail downhill. The trail crosses rock outcrops, descends through a dense hemlock forest, and follows a stream, which it crosses several times. After leveling off, the trail approaches the Coxing Kill. It briefly parallels an old stone wall, then turns left to end at Old Minnewaska Trail. Turn left onto Old Minnewaska Trail and follow it back to the Coxing parking area where the hike began.