Mohonk Preserve

Mountain Rest Road, Ulster County, New York

6,400 acres


US 87 north to Exit 18 for New Paltz; turn left onto Route 299 west;  drive through the college town of New Paltz (State University of New York at New Paltz); shortly after crossing the bridge over the Wallkill River turn right onto Springtown Road; shortly, at the fork in the road turn/bear left and head up Mountain Rest Road to the entrance on the left. 


The Mohonk Mountain House is located northwest of New Paltz in the Shawangunk Mountain range.


Mohonk is an Indian word for Lake of the Sky.

1859  -- John F. Stokes builds a tavern/inn/home beside Mohonk Lake. 

1869  --  Albert K. Smiley bought John Stokes's tavern, lake and 273 acres. 

1870  -- the Quaker Smiley twin brothers established the hotel.  They greatly expanded it over the following years.  The interior is rather plain, in keeping with the Quaker emphasis on the simple life, but the woodwork, especially on the main staircase, is very attractive.

1879  -- they build the oldest extant section of the hotel: the Rock Building.

1879  --  Alfred H. Smiley opens a mountain house at Lake Minnewaska.

1889  -- Putt Corners was named for Napolean Purdy originally of Putnam County.

1910  -- establishment of the newest extant section of the hotel: the dining room. 

The Smiley twins banned alcohol, playing cards, and dancing.  Instead, they emphasized voluntary prayer, daily nature walks, lectures, evening concerts, golf (at a later date), bowling, boating, horseback riding, and fishing. Or a visitor can always just sit in the rocking chairs on the porch by Lake Mohonk and enjoy good conversation and relaxation.  Children love to stand by the porch railing and feed the fish in the lake.

1907  --  the tower known as the Mohonk Testimonial Gateway was built with funds donated by Mohonk guests in order to honor Mohonk's founder, Albert K. Smiley, and his wife on their golden wedding anniversary.

1920s  --  the Smileys had built a network of carriage roads connecting Minnewaska and Mohonk and other nearby places, like Lake Awosting.

1923  -- dedication of Sky Top, a tower with its observation cupola rising from the high point in the Shawangunks, to honor Mohonk's founder Albert K. Smiley.  The tower was designed by Boston architect Francis E. Allen. 

1963  --  establishment of the nature preserve, New York State's largest member and visitor supported nature preserve.

Visit the Mohonk Mountain House for the day and picnic on the property by obtaining a grounds pass for a reasonable fee at the entrance gate.  Or make reservations for lunch and/or dinner.  Of course, you can always stay overnight at the hotel itself.


To Sky Top and Mohonk Lake.  Moderate, additional 3 miles roundtrip.  (Please note that day visitors are not permitted in the hotel, its porches, nor in the swimming area.) Cross Rhododendron Bridge and make a left onto Old Minnewaska Road one mile to Lake Shore Road.  Follow Lake Shore to Mohonk Lake where numerous signs identify trail to and around Sky Top. Return by same route to Rhododendron Bridge.