Please note at the time of writing this post, during the Covid-19 pandemic, there is limited parking (50% capacity), so it is best to go in the morning. Boating, horseback riding, scuba-diving, climbing and bouldering are closed until further notice. All restrooms are closed until further notice.
Minnewaska State Park Preserve is one of New York state’s gems. If you have never been, I highly recommend a visit!
Located in Ulster County, NY (about 1 ½ hours from NYC), and situated on the dramatic Shawangunk Mountain ridge, this striking park has much to offer, including 3 lakes, waterfalls, streams, forest, cliffs, vistas, 50 miles of hiking, walking and biking trails, and 35 miles of carriage roads. What makes it so unusually beautiful is its giant rock formations and rugged terrain, which surround the park.
Comprised of more than 23,000 acres, there is so much varied land to explore, and as one devoted Minnewaska-visitor says, ‘you could go every weekend and still not discover all of the park’. If you’re into hiking, then Minnewaska is definitely a must-visit. There are several trails, all different lengths depending on your mood, some taking you around the lakes, some up to gorgeous vistas, and others through the forest and streams.
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These trails are good for walking and biking as well, and then of course there are the carriage roads, which are very picturesque. In the summer months, beginning mid-June, there is swimming at both Lake Minnewaska and Lake Awosting. The beach at Lake Minnewaska is a short walk from the parking lot, and is very small, but completely divine. We went swimming here. There is a lifeguard on duty, a dock, swimming lanes and a designated area for freestyle swimming. We went on a week day and it wasn’t crowded, but I would imagine on the weekends it fills up.
The beach at Lake Awosting cannot be accessed by car, but rather by foot or bike on one of a few different carriage roads. The distance ranges between 3-5 miles. I will definitely be trying this beach next, as it looks quite pretty, and I love the idea of hiking/walking into a lake and working up the sweat and then jumping into the water afterward.
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If you’re into camping, there is the Samuel F. Pryor III Shawagunk Gateway Campground, which has 24 drive-in spots, and 24 walk-in spots. All sites allow up to two tents (and four people) per pad. The drive-in spots allow 1 vehicle. There is a pavilion and cooking area, bathhouse, restrooms, and circulation trails. It’s “minimalist” camping, as the website says, and the campground is open mid-May – mid-November. The campground entrance is a separate entrance, located at 953 State Route 299, Gardiner, NY 12525.
Other activities at Minnewaska State Park include boating, horseback riding, scuba-diving, rock-climbing, picnicking and cross-country skiing. There is a lot to do, and much to see, so plan to get to the park early. We were very content with a simple day of hiking and swimming, along with a picnic. The scenery is so fantastic, you can’t go wrong.
For more information, see the Lake Minnewaska Park Preserve website here.
Things to note:
Currently, the park is open from 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. during the Covid-19 pandemic. Normally the hours are dusk to dawn.
There is a $10 parking fee.
Dogs are allowed on a leash no more than 6 feet and are not allowed into swimming, camping or picnic areas.
Minnewaska State Park Preserve
5281 Route 44-55
Kerhonkson, NY 12446