Take in waterfalls, stunning cliff-edge views, and activities for everyone at the Minnewaska State Park Preserve.
Spanning more than 23,000 acres of wild and scenic land, Minnewaska State Park Preserve in Ulster County is the largest of six New York state parks holding the distinction of being classified and protected as a park preserve. Take a hike, take a swim, and take in the picturesque views.
Mountain laurels bloom in abundance during the early summer in Minnewaska State Park Preserve. Courtesy Nicholas Martin
Year-Round Fun at Minnewaska State Park Preserve
Minnewaska State Park Preserve rests on land that used to hold a thriving mountaintop resort, dating back to the late 1870s. The park was founded in the early 1970s, and gained distinction as a park reserve in 1993. Set on the Shawangunk Mountain ridge, the park includes several waterfalls, sheer cliffs, dense hardwood forests, and four crystalline sky lakes fed by rainwater. Rock climbing is permitted and visitors can swim and scuba dive in the lifeguarded swimming areas of Lake Minnewaska and Lake Awosting in the summer.
The park has a total of 85 miles of carriage roads, footpaths, and wood roads, on which families can enjoy horseback riding, biking, hiking, snowshoeing, or even cross-country skiing.
The Shawangunk Ridge, a 500-foot tall prominent cliff, is home to rare plants and animals. Peregrine falcons are known to nest along the cliff lines of the ridge. Stop by the 3,000-square-foot Sam’s Point Visitor Center to learn more about the area.
Nature-focused and family-friendly events take place year-round, giving kids of all ages an opportunity to interact with and learn more about their natural surroundings.
Annual Events at Minnewaska State Park Preserve
A guided outing, Tuesday Trek, is offered the second and fourth Tuesday of the month from October to May. Depending on the weather, participants may rent snowshoes.
Kids who are home-schooled can join others for an afternoon of nature and discovery through the Homeschooler Programs, offered the first Thursday of each month from March to June and September to December in the afternoon.
I Love My Park Day, held on May 6, will mark the sixth year of the statewide event to improve and enhance New York’s state parks and historic sites. Volunteers will clean up parklands and beaches, plant trees and gardens, restore trails and wildlife habitat, and more. Volunteer Trails Day on Sept. 17 is another opportunity to show the park some love by volunteering to help clean up.
Take a virtual tour of Minnewaska State Park Preserve at nystateparkstours.com/minnewaska.
Guided hikes provide a group environment to take in the surroundings, including numerous waterfalls, while community conservation days provide an opportunity to clean up the park and give back.
Visiting Minnewaska State Park Preserve
Address: 5281 Route 44-55, Kerhonkson
Hours: Visit the website for seasonal hours
Admission: $10 per vehicle
For more information: 845-255-0752 or parks.ny.gov/parks/127
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Main image: An aerial view of the vast landscape of Minnewaska State Park Preserve.
Courtesy New York State Parks