From the kiosk at the rear of the parking area, continue past the gate onto the Lower Awosting Carriage Road. Almost immediately, turn left onto the yellow-blazed Mossy Glen Trail, which passes through an attractive forest of hemlock and mountain laurel. In half a mile, the trail approaches the carriage road, then turns sharply left and descends to the Peters Kill, crossing it on a one-log...
From the kiosk at the rear of the parking area, continue past the gate onto the Lower Awosting Carriage Road. Almost immediately, turn left onto the yellow-blazed Mossy Glen Trail, which passes through an attractive forest of hemlock and mountain laurel. In half a mile, the trail approaches the carriage road, then turns sharply left and descends to the Peters Kill, crossing it on a one-log footbridge.
The trail turns right beyond the bridge and begins to parallel the stream. For the next mile, it remains close to the stream, at times coming out on slanted rock slabs. It crosses a number of wet areas and tributary streams on wooden boardwalks or on rocks, passing through a forest of hemlock, pine, mountain laurel and rhododendron.
The Mossy Glen Trail ends in an open area, with stunted pitch pines and an understory of blueberries. Turn left here onto the blue-blazed Blueberry Run Trail, which climbs steadily. After a while, the grade moderates, and the trail reaches the Upper Awosting Carriage Road.
Turn right onto the carriage road. After passing under power lines, the road bears left and reaches a viewpoint on the right over Huntington Ravine. Soon, conglomerate cliffs appear to the left, and there is a sign on the right for “Rainbow Falls.” Leave the carriage road and turn left onto the orange-blazed Rainbow Falls Trail, which bears left to climb a ledge, then turns right and runs parallel to the edge of the escarpment. Soon, you’ll reach a rock ledge on the right that offers a panoramic view, with Huntington Ravine just below, and the Catskills visible in the distance on a clear day.
The Rainbow Falls Trail enters a dense forest of hemlock and mountain laurel, then bears left and continues through an open area, with pitch pines growing from cracks in the conglomerate bedrock. You’ll need to use your hands for a few short, steep descents.
Finally, you’ll come out on a wide, open rock ledge that affords a panoramic view of Lake Awosting, with Sam’s Point beyond. The trail now bends left and soon begins to run along the edge of a cliff. To the right, you can see the Castle Point Carriage Road, which leads to Castle Point, the highest point in the park.
A short distance beyond, the Rainbow Falls Trail reaches the Castle Point Carriage Road. Turn right and follow the carriage road for about a third of a mile to the next intersection, then turn left onto the Hamilton Point Carriage Road (marked with “H”-on-yellow-diamond blazes).
In another half mile, you’ll reach Hamilton Point – a fabulous viewpoint, with deeply-fissured rocks separated from the main cliffs. Continue along the carriage road, passing more spectacular views. The line of cliffs on the left is the route of the Gertrude’s Nose Trail.
In about a mile, you’ll cross under a power line. Next, you’ll arrive at Echo Rock, another viewpoint. Here, the carriage road splits into two routes, which quickly rejoin. The trail now moves away from the edge of the cliffs.
Continue ahead as another carriage road comes in from the left, then proceed ahead at the next junction, joining the yellow-diamond-blazed Millbrook Mountain Carriage Road, which comes in from the right. In another quarter mile, turn left onto the Lake Minnewaska Carriage Road, which circles Lake Minnewaska, and bear right at each junction.
At the swimming area, continue ahead and climb to the Sunset Carriage Road. Turn sharply left onto the carriage road, which descends on switchbacks, passing a north-facing viewpoint. When the carriage road ends at the base of the descent, turn right, cross the bridge over the Peters Kill, then turn left and follow the road back to the parking area where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 11/06/2008 updated/verified on 10/23/2017
This loop hike follows the cascading Peters Kill and climbs to panoramic viewpoints from dramatic cliffs.
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.