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Mossy Glen/Blueberry Run/Rainbow Falls/Hamilton Point Loop
Directions to trailhead
Take the New York State Thruway to Exit 18 (New Paltz). Turn left onto Route 299 and continue through the Village of New Paltz and across a bridge over the Wallkill River. In 5.6 miles (from the bridge), Route 299 ends at a T intersection with Route 44/55. Turn right onto Route 44/55, which negotiates a hairpin turn and climbs to pass under the Trapps Bridge. Continue for 3.0 miles past Trapps Bridge to the entrance to Minnewaska State Park Preserve, on the left. After passing the entrance booth (a $10 parking fee is charged), continue straight ahead to the Awosting parking area.
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.
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.