From the kiosk at the rear of the parking area, continue past the gate onto the Lower Awosting Carriage Road (also known as the Peters Kill Road). Almost immediately, you’ll see a sign on the left that marks the start of the yellow-blazed Mossy Glen Trail. Turn left and follow this trail, which passes through a beautiful forest of hemlock and mountain laurel. The trail soon approaches the...
From the kiosk at the rear of the parking area, continue past the gate onto the Lower Awosting Carriage Road (also known as the Peters Kill Road). Almost immediately, you’ll see a sign on the left that marks the start of the yellow-blazed Mossy Glen Trail. Turn left and follow this trail, which passes through a beautiful forest of hemlock and mountain laurel. The trail soon approaches the carriage road, then turns left and descends. In a short distance, it reaches the Peters Kill, which it crosses 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, crossing a number of wet areas and tributary streams on wooden bridges or on rocks. At times, the trail comes out on open rock slabs which slope into the stream. Rhododendron and white pine may be found along the trail, together with hemlock and mountain laurel. At one point, the trail passes through a tunnel under dense rhododendron. Although this trail section is not particularly difficult, you’ll want to take your time to enjoy the scenery.
After passing through a relatively open area, with stunted pitch pines and an understory of blueberries, the Mossy Glen Trail ends at the blue-blazed Blueberry Run Trail (the junction is marked by a cairn). Turn right and follow this blue-blazed trail downhill, soon crossing the Peters Kill on another one-log footbridge, with an attractive cascade on the left. The trail climbs rather steeply to cross the Lower Awosting Carriage Road, then continues through mountain laurel and hemlock. After another steep climb, the Blueberry Run Trail ends at a junction with the blue-blazed Jenny Lane Trail.
Turn left and follow the Jenny Lane Trail, which soon begins to run close to the edge of the ridge, coming out occasionally on open rocks, with views over Litchfield Ledge to the east. (You’ll be following this ledge later on in the hike.) In about three-quarters of a mile, you’ll reach a power line. Follow the trail as it turns right, runs along the power line for a short distance, then turns left and continues on a wide path – the remnants of an old woods road. In one spot, the trail has been rerouted to a footpath on the left to avoid a badly eroded section of the old road. In a third of a mile, the trail bears left and descends rather steeply. At the base of the descent, it bears left onto a grassy woods road, which soon reaches the Lower Awosting Carriage Road.
Turn right and follow the Lower Awosting Carriage Road, crossing a bridge over Fly Brook. Just past the brook crossing, the orange-blazed Rainbow Falls Trail begins on the left. Turn left, leaving the carriage road, and continue on the Rainbow Falls Trail, which descends briefly, then ascends steadily over slanted slabs of conglomerate rock dotted with pitch pines. In this area, the trail is marked with cairns as well as orange blazes. Follow the trail as it turns left, crosses a stream, and continues to climb over slanted rock ledges. From the top, the Catskills may be seen in the distance.
After a short but steep descent, the Rainbow Falls Trail comes out on an open rock ledge. To the right is Huntington Ravine, with Lichtfield Ledge beyond. You’ll hear the sound of falling water, as Rainbow Falls is just below. The trail continues to descend. After a very steep descent along a rock outcrop, the trail levels off in a rocky area. Soon, Rainbow Falls comes into view. Here the water drops from overhanging rock ledges, forming a cool mist. You’ll want to spend some time at this beautiful site!
The trail now bears left, descends to cross a small stream, then climbs steadily. After climbing rock steps, the trail reaches the Upper Awosting Carriage Road. It crosses the road, 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 to the right of the trail that offers a panoramic view, with Huntington Ravine just below, and the Catskills in the distance.
The Rainbow Falls Trail now climbs gradually through a dense forest of hemlock and mountain laurel, then bears left and continues through an area of sparser vegetation, with pitch pines growing from cracks in the conglomerate bedrock. There are some short, steep descents where you’ll need to use your hands for balance.
Finally, you’ll come out on a wide, open rock ledge, with a panoramic view of Lake Awosting, with Sam’s Point beyond. This is another special place where you’ll want to take some time to savor the view. When you’re ready to continue, follow the trail as it bends left and soon begins to run along the edge of a cliff. To the right, you can see Castle Point – your next destination.
Soon, the Rainbow Falls Trail ends at an intersection with the Castle Point Carriage Road. Turn left and follow the carriage road for about half a mile, passing numerous viewpoints to the right. Immediately after the Blueberry Run Path (marked by a sign) leaves to the left, you’ll reach Castle Point – the highest viewpoint in Minnewaska State Park Preserve. The view from here is spectacular, with the Wallkill Valley to the left and Lake Awosting to the right. Again, you’ll want to take a break and enjoy the views.
Follow the lilac-blazed Scenic Trail as it descends precipitously from Castle Point over steep ledges. You’ll need to use your hands and carefully follow the lilac blazes. After a more gradual descent, you’ll reach the Hamilton Point Carriage Road. Turn left onto the road, which is marked with an “H” on yellow-diamond blazes.
In a third of a mile, you’ll reach Hamilton Point – another fabulous viewpoint, with deeply-fissured rocks separated from the main cliffs. To the left, the wall of cliffs in the distance is the ridge of Gertrude’s Nose. Continue along the road for another two miles, passing more spectacular views to the right. In about a mile, you’ll cross under a power line and soon reach Echo Rock, a particularly outstanding viewpoint. Just beyond, the road briefly splits into two routes, which soon rejoin each other. You’ll soon notice a line of cliffs to the left of the road.
Continue ahead (bearing right) at the next junction, then bear left at the following junction, joining the yellow-diamond-blazed Millbrook Mountain Carriage Road. In another quarter mile, you’ll reach the Lake Minnewaska Carriage Road, which circles Lake Minnewaska. Turn left and follow this road along the lake. When you reach the swimming area, continue ahead (following the sign to the “parking lot”) as the road climbs to an intersection with the Sunset Carriage Road. Turn sharply left and follow the Sunset Carriage Road, which descends on switchbacks, passing a broad viewpoint on the way. At the base of the descent, turn right, cross the bridge over the Peters Kill, then turn left and follow a wide gravel path parallel to the park access road back to the Awosting parking area where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 07/27/2004 updated/verified on 03/22/2020
This loop hike follows an attractive stream, climbs to panoramic viewpoints from dramatic cliffs, and passes by a fascinating waterfall.
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.