Sam's Point Area of Minnewaska State Park Preserve
Note current trailhead closures from ALERT MESSAGE on this site.
From the South: Take NJ 17 north to the New York Thruway and continue to Exit 16. Proceed west on NY 17 to Exit 119, turn right at the end of the ramp, and continue north on NY 302 for 9.6 miles to Pine Bush, where NY 302 ends. Turn left onto NY 52 and continue for 7.3 miles. Just before the crest of the hill, turn right onto Cragsmoor Road. In 1.3 miles, turn right in front of the Cragsmoor post office, then take the next right onto Sam’s Point Road, and follow it for about 1.2 miles to its end at the parking area for the preserve. A parking fee is charged per car.
From the North: Take NY 52 south from Ellenville. In about five miles, at the crest of the ridge, turn left at a sign to Cragsmoor. Proceed north for 1.4 miles, turn right in front of the Cragsmoor post office, and then immediately turn right again onto Sam's Point Road which leads to the preserve's Conservation Center and parking area.
See web trail map above for view of this parking area. GPS coordinates: 41.669963,-74.361649. Google Maps: "Sam's Point Preserve, Cragsmoor, NY 12420."
Short Line Bus operates limited daily and weekend service to Ellenville with a stop at Canal and Market Streets, about 0.7 mile from the trailhead to Smiley Carriage Road in Berme Road Park. Walk 0.5 mile southeast along Canal Street to turn left onto Berme Road. In roughly 300 feet turn right into Berme Road Park, follow the entrance road 0.1 mile to a parking area (GPS: 41.71342,-74.38271). Since much of the Preserve is restricted in this area to permit only, there are far fewer destination points compared to the views and features around Sam’s Point proper.
At the southernmost promontory of the Shawangunks is Sam's Point, a massive cliff affording hikers broad views to the southeast and southwest.
Trails in the southeastern part of the preserve are open to the public for hiking, but access to the more fragile area in the northwestern part near Ellenville is by permit only, save for the Smiley Carriage Road that skirts the restricted area (see Trail Conference Map 104).
Providing access to various other hiking routes, a three-mile partially paved Loop Road (closed to private vehicles, but open to service vehicles) leads uphill from the parking area circling Lake Maratanza .
- Right Fork on Loop Road-- to Sam’s Point, the Ice Caves and Verkeerder Kills Falls: From the parking area, walk around the gate and take the right fork of the Loop Road to follow the Long Path (aqua blaze) heading southeast at this point. This branch leads to Sam’s Point, then passes by a side trail to the Ice Caves at 1.0 mile (a must to take) and reaches Verkeerder Kill Falls in 3.0 miles.
- Note: From this point, the Long Path no longer heads east towards Mud Pond. It now follows the High Point Trail (red) heading north to Berrypicker Trail (blue). Then from Smiley Carriage Road north, the LP follows the Mine Hole Trail. Click for an updated description of this section of the Long Path.
- Left Fork on Loop Road -- to Indian Rock and High Point: From the parking area, walk around the gate and take the left fork of the Loop Road heading northwest, which is briefly co-aligned with the Long Path (aqua blaze). When the Long Path leaves to the left, remain straight on the Loop Road; it will eventually reach the level of Lake Maratanza, which can be glimpsed from the road on the right. Near the most distant point of the Loop Road, as it begins to circle back around the lake, is High Point Carriage Road. Both Indian Rock and High Point are accessible from side trails along this road.
Click for detailed descriptions of hikes to the destinations mentioned above. These are moderate to strenuous hikes. Be aware that hiking the Ice Caves loop trail (white blaze) involves climbing wooden ladders.
Sam's Point Preserve
The southernmost promontory of the Shawangunks is a massive cliff called Sam's Point, which affords broad views extending from the Hudson Highlands in the southeast to High Point State Park and the Kittatinnies in the southwest. The name "Sam's Point" has also been used to designate the plateau-like mountainscape north of the promontory, formed of thick slabs of Shawangunk conglomerate. A miniature forest of evergreen heaths, blueberries, and pitch pines finds a tenuous foothold in this harsh, rocky environment. According to The Nature Conservancy, "the majestic views and unique landscapes of Sam's Point represent one of the best examples of a ridgetop dwarf pine barrens in the world."
The Preserve offers inviting destinations for hikers relatively close to the main parking area and Sam's Point Visitor Center: Sam’s Point, with its spectacular views; the Ice Caves, with its own 0.5 mile mini-loop trail, where ice and snow can be seen even in the summer ; and Lake Maratanza, the highest of the “Sky Lakes.” Further away are 180-foot Verkeerder Kill Falls, the highest waterfall in the Shawangunks; Indian Rock, a large fractured boulder perched near the top of a cliff and balanced on a smaller boulder; and High Point, the highest point in the area at 2,240 feet.
This is the highest and wildest part of the Shawangunks.
Formerly managed by The Nature Conservancy, Sam’s Point Preserve became a part of Minnewaska State Park Preserve in 2015.