Situated along the climactic Shawangunk Mountain range, Minnewaska State Park Preserve features forested, craggy terrain, many cascades, crystal clear sky lakes, dozens of miles of paths to hike and bike on, cliffs to climb and boulder upon, and a lot more.
Originally part of the Mohonk Mountain House property, the Minnewaska Mountain House, or Cliff House, was constructed in 1879 overlooking Lake Minnewaska. A second hotel, Wildmere, was added in 1887. The resorts offered walking paths and carriage rides around the lakes, tennis courts, putting greens, baseball, shuffleboards.
The resorts began to decline by the middle of the 20th century, despite the addition of a golf course, ski slopes, and bars. To raise some cash for the hotels, the Nature Conservancy and the state of New York purchased 6,700 acres around Awosting Falls, leading to the development of Minnewaska State Park. Even still, the dilapidated Cliff House was closed in 1972 which burned down in suspected arson in 1978. Wildmere closed in 1979 and burned down in 1986.
For years, private developers proposed intensive and extensive resort and residential for the ecologically significant lands. Numerous lawsuits were filed by environmental groups to stop the proposals from moving forward. Eventually, the state of New York acquired the lands in 1987 and opened the Minnewaska State Park Preserve in 1993. It was greatly expanded in 1996 when the Open Space Institute transferred acreage from Sam’s Point Preserve to the park. An additional expansion occurred in 2006 as the result of action by a coalition of conservation groups, including the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, Open Space Institute, the Trust for Public Land, and the Nature Conservancy.
Today, Minnewaska State Park Preserve sprawls over 22,000 acres, protecting ecologically sensitive environments from commercialization. The reserve comprises of the crystal clear Minnewaska, Awosting, Haseco, and Maratanza sky lakes that are only fed by rainwater, many waterfalls along Peters Kill, Stony Kill, and Verkeerder Kill, striking geological formations including hard quartz rock that glisten under the sun, unique pitch pine forests most often found in sand dunes along the coast, and beautiful mountain laurels alongside the many streams.
There are 50 miles of trails open for hiking, biking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. Additionally, there are 35 miles of carriage roads to hike along. Some of the best trails include:
Much of Minnewaska State Park is located along US Route 44 between US Route 209 north of Ellenville to the west and Moderna to the east.
- Bogerman Falls is located an approximate ½-mile walk along US Route 44 south of the Jenny Lane parking area.
- Stony Kill Falls is located west of the main Minnewaska State Park Preserve entrance. Follow US Route 44 west for 4.4 miles and turn left onto Minnewaska Trail. Make an immediate left onto Rock Haven Road and continue south for 2 miles. Turn left onto Shaft 2A Road and follow until it ends at a parking area within an old quarry.
Mohonk Mountain House Power Plant
More on the long-abandoned Mohonk Mountain House Power Plant can be read at partner site Abandoned.