Minnewaska State Park Preserve
Shawangunks, Ulster County, NY
from the Wallkill River bridge as you leave New Paltz on NY 299; travel 5.9 miles to a right onto US 44/NY 55 West; follow 4.9 miles past the main state park entrance ($4 per car) to another entrance on your left, the large, dirt Awosting parking lot.
There is a per-person charge during the winter, but in all other seasons parking here is free. Locked gates open at 9 am daily, with closing times posted seasonally.
The Shawangunks are the best rock climbing region in the eastern United States. There is a definite geological reason for this. The Shawangunk scarp is held up by the Silurian Shawangunk conglomerate. This is a white, quartz-pebble conglomerate. Because this rock is well-indurated and bedded (combined with the inward dip of the bedding on the cliff faces), it is perfect for rock climbing. (Van Diver 1985: 92)
Mohonk Lake is one of three gem-like, rock-walled lakes in this section of the Shawangunk Mountains; the others are Lake Minnewaska and Lake Awosting, a few miles to the south. All three lake basins are thought to lie along fault zones, the broken rocks of which were scooped up and carried away by glaciers during the Ice Age. (Van Diver 1985:128)
The Smiley brothers, builders of the Mohonk Mountain House, built two hotels at Lake Minnewaska: Cliff House and Wildmere. Cliff House was the first to be built. It was located on the east side of Lake Minnewaska and could accommodate 200 guests. Wildmere House was built at the lake's northern end. It could accommodate 300 guests.
1870s -- the name Minnewaska was introduced from an non-local, unrelated Indian dialect by the proprietors of "Coxing Pond," the present Lake Minnewaska.
1890s -- construction of carriage roads on the approximately 5,000 acres.
1920s -- concert entertainment, including the Hampton Institute Quartet.
1925 -- the Minnewaska resort employed 213 people in the summer.
1932 -- five tennis courts at Minnewaska.
1955 -- the Phillipses take over ownership of the resort. They tried to follow the Quaker traditions of the founders.
1964 -- dancing now permitted. Ski-Minne ski slopes opened.
1966 -- drinking in a wine cellar permitted.
in the 1970s -- swimming still allowed by the Phillipses in the pond at the bottom of Awosting Falls.
1972 -- the Phillips family abandoned Cliff House for regular hotel use.
1978 -- Cliff House burned, uninsured.
1979 -- Wildmere Hotel closed.
by summer of 1980 -- Minnewaska hotels were closed, but the resort was still open for day use; swimming allowed anywhere in Lake Minnewaska.
1986 -- Wildmere Hotel burned and destroyed.
1987 -- New York State takes over Lake Minnewaska. The state bulldozed the ruins of Cliff House.
1993 -- a Minnewaska State Park master plan called for the park to restore or construct replicas of selected summerhouses (gazebos). This has not come to fruition.
2001 -- protesters demonstrated around Lake Minnewaska calling for a relaxation of the Preserve's swimming restrictions.
2002 -- demonstrators conduct a "swim-in" at the Preserve. State park officials make some concessions and allowed swimming on Lake Minnewaska's east side.
Source: Carleton Mabee. 2003. Image of America: Gardiner and Lake Minnewaska. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Press.
You can hike, picnic, cross-country ski, and swim at 10,600 acres Minnewaska State park.
Minnewaska Carriageway. Easy 2-mile red-blazed loop around Lake Minnewaska with views of Catskill Mountains and Wallkill River Valley.
There are miles of trails to explore at this state park. Many people tramp the three hot and dusty miles in to the unique swimming beach at wild Awosting Lake, perhaps the park's second most popular destination after turquoise, sparkling Lake Minnewaska itself.
You can reach Lake Minnewaska the long way, from the Mohonk Preserve. One entry point is the Coxing Kill/Split Rock Entry. This site was formerly home to the Enderly family saw mill, a component of the Trapps Mountain Hamlet. From this entry point one can access the High Peters Kill Trail which leads to Minnewaska. Old Minnewaska Trail is the old historic road which took guests back and forth between Monhonk Mountain House and the house at Lake Minnewaska. This trail takes hikers to Laurel Ledge, the hub of Mohonk's trail and carriage roads.
We repeated the 9/19/04 trip clockwise around Lake Minnewaska on the red trail. There are some great views of the surrounding areas from this trail. There are great views of Sky Top at Mohonk. From where we were, it looked as if Mohonk is on a different ridge with a valley between Lake Minnewaska and Mohonk.
On the map they have at Minnewaska they have marked four parallel trails heading in the direction of or to Lake Awosting. And from there there is a path to Mud Pond. The paths from north to south are Black, Green, Blue, Yellow.
Millbrook Mountain Path (red) is at the southern end of Lake Minnewaska.
Yellow Path: 0.7 miles to Patterson's Pellet, 1.15 to Gertrude's Nose Path; 2.35 to Millbrook Mountain.
The east and west sides of Lake Minnewaska are very different botanically: the west side has a lot of hemlock trees.
Blue trail (Castle Point Trail) comes up next (on west side): 1.0 mile to Kempton Lodge; 1.75 to power line; 3.05 to Castle Point; 3.8 to Hamilton Point Carriage Way.
Near the end of the loop around the lake comes the Green Trail (Upper Awosting Trail): 0.55 to orchard; 1.9 to power line; 3.0 to Awosting Lake Carriage Way; 3.4 to Awosting Beach; 4.0 to Hamilton Point Carriage Way. Dr. Patrick L. Cooney.
Memorial Day Weekend. Sunday. Rosemary Santana Cooney, her brother Cefe and I took the Green Trail to Lake Awosting. Lots of hemlock trees. And lots of starflower in bloom. Very few views from the Green Trail, except around Litchfield Ledge. Pass by the old orchard with a few scraggly apple trees. Pass by "Blueberry Run, Routed off carriageway, follow blue blazes". At 1.9 miles in, pass by a power line. Come to a small bridge by the cliffs. There is a small water fall on the left and a larger one on the right. Rosemary took some pictures. Reach the Litchfield Ledge area. There is an opening in the forest wall; look to the other side and see the Rainbow falls descending off the top of the ledge. Reach a beautiful cliff face on the left. Long Path with blue blazes crosses. You can turn right and go 0.2 to 0.3 of a mile to the base of Rainbow Falls. (We did not do it.) Pass by more cliffs on the left, a little higher this time with lots of pitch pine on top.
Reach a T-intersection with the black-blazed Lake Awosting Carriageway. A signs says it is 3.2 miles back to Lake Minnewaska. We turned left and walked a small ways and went off trail to sit by the cliffs. Great views of Lake Awosting from here. It's a pretty big lake. Can't see the southwestern end of it. Lots of pink azalea in bloom around the lake. We walked farther along the cliffs getting more great views. We also took a water break here.
Turned around to go back to the T-intersection area with the Green Trail. Continued on the Black Trail a short distance downhill to Lake Awosting beach (which isn't really a beach). Our Jack Russell terrier Sonar is finally getting the hang of the water. He finally, and on his own, swam out to retrieve part of an old tree limb. He brought the limb back to shore with him. He was usually so overly cautious of the water, so we were very happy to see him actually act like our previous Jack Russell, Snuffy, who absolutely loved the water and we had to fight him to get him away from it.
The walk was pretty long and Rosemary was very tired. (Cefe and I have been walking 5-6 miles a day on doctor's orders, so we were better able to handle it.) Dr. Patrick L. Cooney.
4th of July weekend. Rosemary Santana Cooney, her brother Cefe and I took the Red Trail around the east side of Lake Minnewaska. A fawn ran past us, followed a little later by the mother. She stopped very close to us. Her eyes were on our Jack Russell terrier and she stamped her hoof. I knew that was a sign of aggression so I started to walk away from her. That was probably a mistake for she took advantage of this to attack our dog who was on a leash and was not barking. She reared up and tried to smash him with her hoof, but he was able to just dodge it (giving out a high yelp at the same time). I turned around and was going to fight the deer if necessary. I was very mad and yelled and cursed at it and after some hesitation, the deer ran away. I was ready to slug the deer, it was that close, and if it reared I was prepared to push it over. I didn't care one hoot what would happen to me. Just don't mess with my dog.
Ate a few of the shadbush berries which were pretty tasty.
Near the southeast end of the lake, we turned right onto the Millbrook Mountain Trail. We had recently in New York State the worse floods on record. And the water in the little creek coming from the lake was overflowing its streambed. Passed a small waterfall below us. (On the way back we took some pictures of it.) The path gets very narrow and because it was wet, it was tricky going at times.
All of a sudden the habitat changes to one dominated by small heath bushes, blueberries and black huckleberry. Ate a few of the blueberries. There are some nice overviews of the ground below from here. We could see Sky Top at Mohonk Preserve in the background. (We also noticed that we were a lot closer to a small house we had seen from the Red Trail a couple of months ago.) The trail descends farther.
I was hoping to get to Millbrook Mountain, but we are just too slow to accomplish that. But we did get as far as Coxing Kill which is in a shallow ravine and is very lovely. Turned around and came back for fear of having too long and exhausting of a walk for non-hikers. Dr. Patrick L. Cooney.
10/22/2006. Phil Duckett and I walked around Lake Minnewaska on the red trail. It was cold and Phil had not brought enough warm clothes, so we did not stay long. Patrick L. Cooney, Ph. D.
Dr. Patrick L. Cooney
9/19/04, 4/29/06, 7/01/06 = plant blooming on date of field trip
Acer pensylvanicum (goose-foot maple) 5/28/06
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Amelanchier arborea (shadbush) 4/29/06
Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Betula papyrifera (white birch)
Betula populifolia (gray birch)
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash) 4/29/06
Hydrangea sp. (hydrangea) planted
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Nyssa sylvatica (tupelo) 5/28/06 soon
Pinus rigida (pitch pine)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Pinus virginiana (scrub pine)
Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen)
Prunus pensylvanica (fire cherry)
Prunus serotina (black cherry) 5/28/06 waning
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras) 4/29/06
Thuja occidentalis (arbor-vitae)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)
Aronia melanocarpa (black chokeberry) 5/28/06
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Clethra alnifolia (sweet pepperbush)
Comptonia peregrina (sweet fern)
Gaultheria procumbens (wintergreen)
Gaylussacia baccata (black huckleberry) 4/29/06 5/28/06
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) 9/19/04
Ilex verticillata (winterberry) 7/01/06
Kalmia angustifolia (sheep laurel) 7/01/06 9/19/04 one bush in bloom
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel) 7/01/06
Lyonia ligustrina (maleberry)
Nemopanthus mucronatus (common mountain holly) ?
Philadelphus sp. (mockorange)
Quercus ilicifolia (scrub oak)
Rhododendron periclymenoides (pink azalea) 5/28/06
Rhododendron sp. (hort. rhododendron) 5/28/06
Rubus hispidus (swamp dewberry) 7/01/06
Rubus laciniata (cut-leaved blackberry)
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus sp. (blackberry)
Salix discolor (pussy willow)
Sambucus canadensis (common elderberry)
Sorbus americana (American mountain ash)
Spiraea tomentosa (steeplebush)
Syringa vulgaris (common lilac) 4/29/06 soon; 5/28/06
Vaccinium angustifolium (lowbush blueberry) 4/29/06
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry) 5/28/06
Viburnum alnifolium (hobblebush)
Viburnum dentatum (arrowwood viburnum)
Vinca minor (periwinkle) 4/29/06 9/19/04
hort. shrub by parking area 56/238/06
Polygonum scandens (climbing bindweed) 7/01/06
Smilax rotundifolia (round-leaved greenbrier)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vitis aestivalis (summer grape)
Achillea millefolium (yarrow) 7/01/06 9/19/04
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) 5/28/06 7/01/06
Allium sp. (onion)
Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed)
Amphicarpaea bracteata (hog peanut)
Anemone virginiana (thimbleweed)
Antennaria sp. (pussytoes) 4/29/06 5/28/06
Apocynum cannabinum (Indian hemp)
Aquilegia canadensis (columbine)
Aralia nudicaulis (wild sarsaparilla)
Arctium sp. (burdock)
Arisaema triphyllum (Jack in the pulpit)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed) 7/01/06
Aster acuminatus (whorled aster) 9/19/04
Aster cordifolius (heart-leaved aster) 9/19/04
Aster divaricatus (white wood aster) 9/19/04
Aster novi-belgii (New York aster) 9/19/04
Barbarea vulgaris (common wintercress) 5/28/06
Bidens frondosa (beggarticks) 9/19/04
Bidens sp. (beggarticks) 9/19/04
Centaurea maculosa (spotted knapweed) 9/19/04
Cerastium vulgatum (mouse-ear chickweed) 5/28/06 7/01/06
Chenopodium album (pigweed)
Chrysanthemum leucanthemum (ox-eye daisy) 7/01/06 9/19/04
Cichorium intybus (chicory) 9/19/04
Cirsium arvense (Canada thistle) 7/01/06 9/19/04 one bloom
Cirsium vulgaris (bull thistle)
Conyza canadensis (horseweed)
Coronilla varia (crown vetch) 7/01/06
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace) 9/19/04
Dianthus armeria (Deptford pink) 7/01/06 9/19/04
Epigaea repens (trailing arbutus)
Epipactis helleborine (helleborine orchid)
Erechtites hieraciifolia (pilewort)
Erigeron annuus (daisy fleabane) 5/28/06 7/01/06 9/19/04
Erythronium americanum (trout lily)
Eupatorium rugosum (white snake root) 9/19/04
Euphorbia cyparissias (cypress spurge) 5/28/06
Euphorbia esula (leafy spurge) 5/28/06
Euthamia graminifolia (grass-leaved goldenrod) 9/19/04
Fragaria vesca (wood strawberry) 5/28/06
Galium mollugo (wild madder) 7/01/06 9/19/04
Geranium maculatum (wild geranium)
Geum canadense (white avens)
Glechoma hederacea (gill over the ground) 4/29/06
Gnaphalium uliginosum (low cudweed) 9/19/04 waning
Hieracium sp. (hawkweed) 7/01/06 9/19/04
Hieracium paniculatum (panicled hawkweed)
Hieracium sp. (hawkweed) 7/01/06
Hypericum punctatum (spotted St. Johnswort)
Hypericum sp. (St. Johnswort) 7/01/06
Impatiens sp. (jewelweed)
Iris sp. (blue or yellow flag)
Lactuca canadensis (wild lettuce)
Lactuca serriola (prickly lettuce)
Leontodon autumnalis (fall dandelion) 9/19/04
Lepidium virginicum (poor man's pepper)
Linaria vulgaris (butter-and-eggs) 9/19/04
Lobelia inflata (Indian tobacco) 9/19/04
Lotus corniculatus (birdfoot trefoil) 7/01/06 9/19/04
Lycopus sp. (bugleweed) 9/19/04
Lycopus virginicus (bugleweed) 5/18/06
Lysimachia quadrifolia (Virginia water horehound)
Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower) 5/28/06
Medeola virginiana (Indian cucumberroot)
Medicago lupulina (black medick) 7/01/06 9/19/04
Melampyrum lineare (cowwheat) 7/01/06
Melilotus officinalis (yellow sweet clover) 7/01/06 9/19/04
Narcissus sp. (daffodil) 4/29/06
Oxalis sp. (yellow wood sorrel) 7/01/06 9/19/04
Penstemon digitalis (white beardtongue) 7/01/06
Pilea pumila (clearweed)
Plantago lanceolata (English plantain) 5/28/06 7/01/06
Plantago major (common plantain)
Polygonum arenastrum (dooryard knotweed) ? 9/19/04
Polygonum cespitosum (tufted knotweed) 7/01/06 9/19/04
Polygonum hydropiper (water pepper) 9/19/04
Polygonum hydropiperoides (mild water pepper) 9/19/04
Polygonum sagittatum (arrow-leaved tearthumb) 9/19/04
Potentilla argentea (silvery cinquefoil) 9/19/04
Potentilla canadensis (dwarf cinquefoil)
Potentilla recta (rough-fruited cinquefoil) 7/01/06
Potentilla simplex (common cinquefoil) 5/28/06
Prenanthes trifoliata (tall rattlesnake root) 9/19/04
Prunella vulgaris (self-heal) 7/01/06 9/19/04 a few in bloom
Ranunculus acris (tall buttercup) 5/28/06 7/01/06
Rumex acetosella (sheep sorrel)
Senecio sp. (ragwort)
Silene vulgaris (bladder campion) 7/01/06 9/19/04
Solanum dulcamara (bittersweet nightshade)
Solidago bicolor (silverrod) 9/19/04
Solidago caesia (blue-stemmed goldenrod) 9/19/04
Solidago puberula (downy goldenrod) 9/19/04
Solidago rugosa (rough-stemmed goldenrod) 9/19/04
Stellaria longifolia (long-leaved stitchwort) 7/01/06
Taraxacum officinale (dandelion) 4/29/06 5/28/06 7/01/06 9/19/04
Tragopogon pratensis (goat's beard) 7/01/06 9/19/04
Trientalis borealis (starflower) 5/28/06 lots
Trifolium aureum (yellow clover) 7/01/06
Trifolium pratense (red clover) 9/19/04 7/01/06
Trifolium repens (white clover) 9/19/04 7/01/06
Trifolium sp. (hop clover) 5/28/06
Trillium sp. (trillium)
Tussilagofarfara (colts foot) 4/29/06
Verbascum blattaria (moth mullein) 7/01/06
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein)
Veronica officinalis (common speedwell) 7/01/06
Vicia cracca (cow vetch) 7/01/06
Viola cucullata (marsh blue violet) 5/28/06
Viola macloskeyi (northern white violet) 5/28/06
Viola sororia (common blue violet) 4/29/06
Juncus effusus (soft rush)
Juncus tenuis (path rush)
Carex crinita (fringed sedge)
Carex lurida (sallow sedge) 5/28/06
Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge) 4/29/06
Carex vulpinoidea (fox sedge)
Eleocharis sp. (spikerush) 5/28/06
Scirpus atrovirens (dark green bulrush)
Scirpus cyperinus (woolly grass bulrush)
Anthoxanthum odoratum (sweet vernal grass)
Bromus inermis (smooth brome grass)
Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)
Danthonia spicata (poverty grass)
Echinochloa sp. (barnyard grass)
Elymus sp. (wild rye grass)
Elytrigia repens (quack grass)
Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stilt grass)
Panicum clandestinum (deer-tongue grass)
Phleum pratense (timothy grass)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)
Poa annua (low spear grass)
Poa compressa (Canada bluegrass)
Setaria faberi (nodding foxtail grass)
Setaria glauca (yellow foxtail grass)
Ferns and Fern allies:
Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern)
Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay-scented fern)
Lycopodium lucidulum (shining clubmoss)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Polypodium virginianum (common rock cap fern)
Pteridium aquilinum (bracken fern)
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)
Polytrichum sp. (hair cap moss)
rock tripe lichen