Section 14: Sam's Point to Port Ben Road
- This section includes several changes as of Fall 2023, including a change in the division point between sections 14 and 15 and a new route at the northern end of the section.
The Long Path enters the northern Shawangunks near Lake Maratanza in the Sam’s Point Area of Minnewaska State Park Preserve. The northern Shawangunks are one of New York's most popular scenic destinations. Capped by a hard, white conglomerate, the Shawangunks form a long mountain ridge with gently dipping slopes along the surface of the conglomerate, that give way suddenly to great white cliffs. A favored spot for rock climbers from all over the northeastern US, the cliffs provide wonderful views of forested and farmed land in the valley below. In addition, the many miles of carriageways provide unparalleled mountain biking and cross-country skiing opportunities. The trail passes by one of the Shawangunk's finest waterfalls: Verkeerder Kill Falls. The trail follows the Verkeerder Kill Falls Footpath (LP Aqua), High Point Footpath (red) and Berrypicker Footpath (blue), all with numerous views, on its way north to the Mine Hole Footpath and spectacular views of the Catskills.
Take the New York State Thruway to Exit 17, Newburgh. Continue west on Interstate Route 84 to Exit 28. Follow NY Route 208 north to NY Route 52. Turn left onto Route 52 and follow it west to the top of the ridge at Cragsmoor. Turn right on Cragsmoor Road and follow it 1.3 miles to the middle of the Hamlet of Cragsmoor. At a three-way intersection, bear right and again make a right onto Sam's Point Road. Follow Sam's Point Road one mile to parking lot at end.
0.00 Sam's Point Area (Minnewaska State Park Preserve) entrance. Fee charged, and parking reservations are required weekends and holidays, spring through fall. (41.67003°, -74.36162°)
11.65 Parking area on Foordmore Road. (41.76001°, -74.32522°)
13.55 Parking area on state land on the north side of the bridge. (41.75082°, -74.35076°)
There is no camping allowed in this section, but at mile 8.05 it is only 0.6 mile west to DEC land (Witch’s Hole Multiple Use Area), where camping is allowed.
0.00 The Long Path turns left near the Sam's Point visitor center parking lot and follows Loop Road East toward Lake Maratanza. (From the parking lot, turn right onto the loop road).
0.50 Pass the Lenape Steps and cliffs of Sam's Point on the left and come to a spectacular view to the right. From here you can see south along the ridge to High Point, New Jersey. You can also see across the Wallkill Valley to the Hudson Highlands to the south and east. After the view, the trail turns left and ascends along the road to the top of the cliffs.
0.60 To the left is a road that leads a short distance to Sam's Point. It is worth the detour as the view is even better than along the road. Here you are high enough to see above the high point of Cragsmoor and can see west as well as south and east. Just to the west of the ridge and ten miles south is Basha Kill Wildlife Management Area. On a clear day, you can see all the way into New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The Long Path continues straight ahead on the road, passing through a dense pitch pine forest.
1.05 Reach junction with Ice Caves Road. Lake Maratanza is another 0.25 mile along Loop Road East, but the Long Path turns right and follows the road toward the ice caves for a short distance.
1.10 Turn left off Ice Caves Road onto Verkeerder Kill Falls Footpath (a side trip to explore the ice caves and return to this junction takes less than an hour and is well worth the time). The trail ascends through the blueberry bushes for a short distance and then descends gradually through a mixed blueberry-pitch pine forest.
1.25 The trail gradually turns left and goes through an open area covered with blueberry bushes. There are continuous views north toward Mud Pond, with Gertrude's Nose and Castle Point prominent on the skyline.
1.45 Enter a denser forest of pitch pine and blueberry.
1.65 Enter a hardwood forest with a stream running through the middle. A highly unusual stand of birch is found in the middle of the pitch pine and blueberry woods.
1.75 Exit the hardwood forest and reemerge in the pitch pine and blueberry scrub. Again, there are views to the north.
2.00 The Long Path intersects the old trail that once ran from Lake Maratanza to Verkeerder Kill Falls. The trail left to Lake Maratanza is now closed and may not be obvious. The Long Path turns right and follows the other branch of the old trail as it descends toward the falls. The forest gradually changes from pitch pine and blueberry to a hardwood forest.
2.60 Enter a hemlock forest, now on private property. Please remain on trail and respect private property.
2.85 Cross Verkeerder Kill. There are several channels and the crossing may be difficult in times of high water.
Verkeerder Kill Falls. 2011 [JAKOB FRANKE]
2.90 Reach an intersection with a path on the right that leads in one hundred feet to a spectacular overlook above Verkeerder Kill Falls. Be careful here, as a misstep will send you plunging to the base of the falls 100 feet below. Please do not proceed past the overlook as the landowner has closed the trail beyond this point. The falls and the overlook are on private property. The landowner has graciously allowed us access to the falls, so please respect his rights and keep the area as you found it. The Long Path turns left (north) back at the intersection and begins to climb to the top of another ridge. The climb is gradual at first, but soon turns steep.
3.10 The climb becomes gentler as it gains the ridge crest. After a viewpoint to the left on a conglomerate shelf, the trail turns away from the edge and passes through an area covered with blueberry bushes and small trees.
3.20 The Long Path reaches open slab and an intersection with the High Point Footpath (red) and Scenic Trail Footpath (purple). The Scenic Trail Footpath, co-blazed with blue SRT markers, follows the previous Long Path route to Mud Pond, 0.6 mile away. The Long Path turns left onto the High Point Footpath, which is co-blazed with aqua LP disks.
3.55 Reach the first of several fine viewpoints, as the trail continues north along the rim of a ravine, passing alternatingly over slab rock and through blueberry and pine pitch scrub.
4.40 Cross the first of several small seasonal streams and continue along the rim of the bowl.
5.15 An unmarked trail (Cut-off Trail) on the left leads to the High Point Carriage Road.
5.35 Reach High Point, which affords a panoramic view of the Catskills, Mohonk, Minnewaska, and the Hudson Highlands, with the southern Shawangunks hidden behind Sam's Point.
5.70 Reach junction with the Berrypicker Footpath (blue), which is co-blazed with LP disks. The red-blazed High Point Footpath turns left and descends to reach the High Point Carriage Road in about a tenth of a mile. The Berrypicker Footpath and Long Path continue straight ahead for about 150 feet to a fantastic viewpoint overlooking the Rondout Valley and all of the Catskills north of there. This was the site of a fire tower of which the anchors are still visible. The Berrypicker Footpath and Long Path turn right at the view point. This section passes through typical pine barren forest, over slab rock, and along many fine viewpoints.
5.95 Great view of Minnewaska and Mohonk.
6.45 A spectacular panoramic view of the Shawangunks and the Catskills.
6.80 Approach the rim of a giant bowl. In a while, the forest becomes more deciduous.
7.75 Reach the end of the Berrypicker Footpath and turn left on Smiley Carriage Road. From here on, the trail is marked with 2x4" LP Aqua blazes. To the right (north) of this junction about a couple hundred feet, the remnants of 4-Mile Post, one of the old berrypicker settlements, can be found.
8.05 Turn right onto the Mine Hole Footpath, which primarily follows an old fire road down to Foordmore Road. The trail descends almost 1600 feet over the next 3.5 miles. (About 0.6 mile west of this junction, following Smiley Carriage Road, are DEC lands where camping is allowed).
8.10 An unmarked trail to the left leads to a nearby cabin. In the next mile or so, the trail crosses several slickrock sections where cairns are used to show the way.
8.50 Cross a stream.
8.70 A short side trail on the right (white blazes) leads to Panther Rock, one of the more outstanding viewpoints along this trail.
8.90 Two large cairns mark an unmaintained trail to the left that leads to Jacob's Ladder. The trail continues downward with several views north of the Catskills and crosses several patches of bare rock that can be very slippery when wet. Slowly, the size of the trees increases. The old road can be quite steep at times.
View of the Catskills from the Mine Hole Footpath. 2011 [JAKOB FRANKE]
10.70 Cross a seasonal stream.
10.85 Reach the former junction of Upper Mine Hole Footpath and Lower Mine Hole Footpath, where the Long Path previously turned west to descend toward Berme Road. The Long Path now continues straight along Mine Hole Footpath.
11.65 Reach the end of Mine Hole Footpath at a parking area on Foordmore Road. Turn left onto Foordmore Road.
11.95 Turn left onto Berme Road.
12.10 Just prior to a curve in the road, turn right off the road onto a trail. The trail crosses the canal bed of the old D&H Canal* and soon reaches an old railroad bed on lands protected by the Open Space Institute. Follow the railroad bed southward, which soon runs parallel to Berme Road.
13.25 Reach the end of Towpath Road and continue along the road. The third house on the right is across from the site of Lock 26 of the D&H Canal and is the improved locktender house.
13.40 Cross Port Ben Road and continue on Towpath Road, which turns sharply right (north) in a few hundred feet. On your left is the historical Port Ben railroad station.
13.55 Reach a junction with Port Ben Road again and turn left, reaching the Port Ben Road bridge across the Rondout Creek, which is now closed to vehicles but is open for pedestrians. A parking area is at the northern end of the bridge.
Previous Section: Section 13
Next Section: Section 15
*The Delaware & Hudson Canal was in operation from 1828 until 1899. Following its demise the O&W used the canal right-of-way, and its railroad bed is in some places on the towpah or in the canal prism.