Know the New Hiking How-tos
Minnewaska State Park Preserve
Take the New York State Thruway to Exit 18 (New Paltz). After paying the toll, turn left onto Route 299 and continue west through the Village of New Paltz. When you cross the bridge over the Wallkill River at the west end of the village, continue ahead on Route 299 (do not turn right towards the Mohonk Mountain House). In another 5.6 miles (from the Wallkill River bridge), Route 299 ends at a T intersection with Route 44/55. Turn right and follow Route 44/55 as it negotiates a very sharp hairpin turn and climbs to pass under the Trapps Bridge (a steel truss overpass). Continue for about three miles past the Trapps Bridge to the entrance to Minnewaska State Park Preserve, on the left side of the road. GPS Coordinates: 41.731184, -74.234434
- Jenny Lane parking area is an obscure dirt road which leads north from Route 44/55, 1.2 miles west of the entrance to Minnewaska State Preserve. [Google Maps: "Jenny Lane, Kerhonkson, NY"]
Bus service to New Paltz from New York City, Nanuet, Newburgh and Kingston is available via Adirondack Trailways, www.trailwaysny.com (800) 776-7548.
Also 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. Taxi service from New Paltz to Minnewaska is available from New Paltz Taxi, www.npztaxi.com (845) 255-1550.
Two beautiful "sky lakes" on the site of two former hotels with more than 50 miles of trails and carriageways and numerous scenic views, including those from Sam's Point.
The numerous scenic overlooks in the park are destinations by themselves, with varied and sweeping views of the lakes, cliffs, expanses of pine barrens, and valleys below. They include Hamilton Point, Castle Point, Gertrude's Nose, Millbrook Mountain, Murray Hill, Margaret Cliff, Beacon Hill, and the High Peters Kill cliffs. Many are accessible by both trail and carriage roads. Use Web Map link on this site for a trail map and brochure from NYS Parks.
Among the many trails are:
- The Beacon Hill Trail [0.8 mile; yellow] is one of the most scenic short hikes in the immediate area of Lake Minnewaska. It begins at the Beacon Hill Carriage Road, 0.7 mile from the Lake Minnewaska parking area. It can be combined with the Beacon Hill Carriage Road and the Lake Minnewaska Carriage Road for a two- or three-mile loop hike.
- The Blueberry Run Trail [2.2 miles; blue] begins at the crest of Castle Point, where the Shawangunk Ridge Trail [SRT blue] joins the Castle Point Carriage Road, 3.2 miles from the Lake Minnewaska parking lot.
- Castle Point Carriage Road [4.3 miles; blue] is the highest within the Minnewaska State Park Preserve, skirting along the tops of the series of bluffs that define the western rim of the Palmaghatt Ravine, with lofty outward views. It is popular with mountain bicyclists. It begins from Lake Minnewaska Carriage Road, on the west side of Lake Minnewaska, 0.4 mile from the parking area.
- The Gertrude's Nose Trail [3.4 miles; red] begins on Millbrook Mountain Carriage Road, 2.1 miles from the parking area at Lake Minnewaska.
- The Hamilton Point Carriage Road [2.8 miles; yellow with black H] follows the northern rim of the Palmaghatt Ravine, an immense V-shaped ravine whose side walls consist of a double row of high, vertical cliffs. This is one of the most scenic routes between Lake Minnewaska and Lake Awosting.
- Rather than taking a direct route across Minnewaska State Park Preserve, the Shawangunk Ridge Trail [9.5 miles passing southwest from Jenny Lane to Mud Pond; SRT blue] meanders through the park on a winding course, passing ridge-top viewpoints and waterfalls, and scrambling up and down rocky cliffs. Co-aligned with the Jenny Lane Trail [blue] at the start, the SRT crosses many of the park's trails and carriage roads, making it possible to plan a variety of loop hikes. The Jenny Lane parking area is a convenient place to begin a hike.
- From this parking location it is also possible to follow the SRT in the opposite direction, heading southeast along Wawarsing Turnpike Trail [pink] which becomes High Peters Kill Trail [blue] leading into Mohonk Preserve.
- The Long Path [aqua] was re-routed to the northwest area of the park in 2012, away from the Lake Awosting network of trails. It now follows Berrypicker and Upper Mine Hole trails heading towards Berme Road. Click for a description of this trail segment beginning roughly at mile 3.20. Trail maps older than 2012 may not show this re-route.
Click to view detailed descriptions of hikes in the Preserve; some include GPS coordinates.
Minnewaska State Park Preserve was once the site of two mountaintop hotels. Many of the scenic trails and historic carriageways wind their way around two "sky lakes." Lake Minnewaska and Lake Awosting are the centerpieces of the park preserve, from which most other scenic attractions can be reached. These lakes are well known for the exceptional clarity of their water and their aquamarine color. Both lakes are set into white conglomerate cliffs and encircled with carriageways that provide ready access to many views.
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 park is a good destination for hikers during hunting season; a large swath of Minnewaska is off limits to hunters. A hunting map provided by the park shows the hunting zones; use Contact Information tab and follow "Maps" link.