Minnewaska State Park
GOOD FOR: Ages 5-8

Source:Outdoors with Kids New York City (AMC Books)
Address:Main Street, Kerhonkson, NY
Hours:Park: 9 A.M. to 9 P.M. daily; Beach: 11:15 A.M. to 6:45 P.M. seasonally
Fee: Free
Bathrooms: Parking lot at trailhead; near Minnewaska Beach
Water/Snacks: None

USGS Gardiner, Kerhonkson, Mohonk Lake, and Napanoch; lakeminnewaska.org/hiking.html

Minnewaska State Park features a short hike to a picturesque waterfall and a challenging hike to a scenic mountaintop lake.

Minnewaska State Park
Photo by: Cheryl and Williams de Jong-Lambert

Minnewaska State Park Preserve, covering 18 square miles of forest on the Shawangunk Ridge, was originally developed as a resort area in a rustic setting. Today, like much of the surrounding Catskill Forest Preserve, it is a breathtakingly beautiful day-use park, featuring three lakes and miles of wide gravel pathways (former carriage paths) that ascend at a steady incline.

Before you begin the 1.2-mile hike to Lake Minnewaska, treat yourself to a quick detour to Awosting Falls, set in a river valley that is incredibly verdant. To get there from the park entrance, follow the red-blazed trail to your left, heading downhill 0.2 mile on a wide, rutted gravel path. You will pass by the orange trail entrance on your right. The falls will be calling you all the while, and in short order, will appear on your left. It’s worth the trip.

Head back up to the orange trail to begin the hike through a dense and soaring hardwood forest to Lake Minnewaska, which is cradled amid the peaks at the top of the preserve. The path is not suitable for standard strollers and is not recommended for children under age 5. The trail is popular with mountain bikers interested in a challenging ascent, followed by a hair-raising ride down.

At the top you will find a mountaintop lake that owes its clarity to its acidic water, and a rocky shoreline that is inhospitable to aquatic vegetation and marine life. Like North-South Lake (Trip 90), Minnewaska was once home to popular resort hotels that catered to the well-heeled and influential. The hotels, dating to 1879, were ultimately abandoned and later burned to the ground.

Take a short walk down to the gravel beach for a swim, or continue along the red-blazed trail around the lake. The beach is guarded and features bathrooms and a changing room. Remember: Diving off the dock is not allowed.

Plan B:

North-South Lake (Trip 90) is another formerly famous hotel site-turned-wonderful state park.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Trendy shops and restaurants in nearby New Paltz.


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