We absolutely love Minnewaska State Park Preserve. When we first found Minnewaska State Park, we couldn’t believe that a place so pretty existed so close to New York City! There are so many waterfalls, lakes, good views, and pine trees here. (And I absolutely loveeeeee pine trees). We just keep going back here again and again. I am so happy to share this place with you and hope that it brings you as much joy as it brings us.
About Minnewaska State Park
Minnewaska State Park is a state park that was originally founded as a preserve in 1987 and it was officially opened as a state park in 2015. It is part of the Shawangunk Ridge that runs for many miles starting in New Jersey and up into New York. Some other areas that are part of the Shawangunk Ridge is the Shawangunk Ridge State Forest, Witch’s Hole State Forest, Roosa Gap State Forest, Wurtsboro Ridge State Forest, Huckleberry Ridge State Forest, and High Point State Park in New Jersey.
The ecosystem at Minnewaska State Park is unique and is one of the only places in New York State that houses timber rattlesnakes, bobcats, and certain moth species.
There are a ton of waterfalls and lakes throughout the park. There are also over 50 miles of hiking trails here!
Where is Minnewaska State Park?
Minnewaska State Park Preserve is located one Ulster County, New York. From New York City to Minnewaska State Park Preserve it is around 90 miles and 2 hours. The park gates open at 9 am and close at 6 pm. For most individuals it is $10 per vehicle.
Tips for visiting Minnewaska State Park
Minnewaska State Park preserve gets very crowded, especially on the weekends and in the summer, and the parking lots can fill up early in the day. Be sure to arrive early in order to be able to get a parking spot. When we tried to visit the Sam’s Point part of the park, we were turned away only 15 minutes after the parking lot opened because the parking lot was full. If you arrive late like we did and are unable to get a parking spot, a good alternative hike can be found at Shawangunk Ridge State Forest.
Leave No Trace
Minnewaska State Park Preserve has no trash cans, so be prepared to carry out any trash that you may bring into the park) and definitely don’t leave it anywhere in the park.
What to do at Minnewaska State Park
Walk around Lake Minnewaska
Lake Minnewaska is the main lake at Minnewaska State Park Preserve. Lake Minnewaska is absolutely gorgeous and surrounded by rocky cliffs and pine trees. It looks beautiful at all times of the year. To go around Lake Minnewaska, there is a gravel trail that is 1.9 miles that takes you around the entire lake. It is not a strenuous trail and only has some gentle ups and downs. If you have the time, I really recommend that you take this trail if you have the time as it takes you to different viewpoints around the lake.
There are 2 parking lots at Minnewaska and you should park at the upper parking lot in order to see the lake. If you are only able to park at the parking lot at the bottom of the hill, there is a trail that is around 1 mile that you can take to the top of the ridge where the lake is.
Visit the New Visitor’s Center
There is a new visitor center beside the parking lots at the top of the hill. There are many nice exhibits on the history of Minnewaska State Park Preserve and the wildlife in the area. There are many wildlife-related activities for children here too. There are also some items for purchase and park rangers to help you with any questions you may have.
Hike the Gertrude’s Nose Trail
This was actually one of the first trails that we did in Minnewaska State Park Preserve and it is a wonderful hike with a wide variety of different things to see. We took this hike clockwise. The hike begins by taking you around the lake and beginning the trail from the opposite side of the lake. The Gertrude’s Nose Trail weaves through pine groves on top of the characteristic white rocks of Minnewaska State Park Preserve. After a while, the trail reaches the first rock outcropping viewpoint of the trail. In the spring there are falcons flying all over the place as there are many falcon nests on the rocky cliffs here. The trail continues along and follows the rocky ridge for a while. It is very pretty with the white rocks, scraggly pine trees, and frequent viewpoints of the surrounding area.
Eventually the trail reaches the best view of the entire hike. The rocky ridge opens into a wide exposed cliff area that gives 250 degrees of views. We spent a while here climbing all over the rocks. If you had planned, for it, this would be the ideal place for a picnic. The trail eventually takes you back into the forest and then back to Lake Minnewaska where you will continue to the parking lot. It is a trail that has many different options and views. If you are able, this trail is definitely worth it.
Hike the Short Trail to Awosting Falls
There is a lovely trail that goes to Awosting Falls. I was so surprised by how nice this waterfall is! Awosting Falls is a huge waterfall surrounded by a rocky cliff and pine trees. The water is almost a reddish brown due to the type of plants growing in the area. The Awosting Falls Trail is best accessed by parking at the lower parking lot close to the park entrance. Round trip from the parking lot, the trail is 1.1 miles. The trail descends down and at the bottom of the hill is the waterfall. It is definitely a popular trail, but for good reason. This would be an another good place for a picnic or to even just sit and relax a while.
Other places to see in Minnewaska State Park
Sam’s Point Area of Minnewaska State Park Preserve is supposed to be absolutely gorgeous. There are hikes here to waterfalls, lakes, and amazing New York views. The parking lot is very small and fills up fast, so if you plan on visiting here, plan on arriving early in order to get a parking spot.
Rainbow Falls trail is a popular hike at Minnewaska State Park Preserve that leaves from the lower parking lot. The hike is 6.5 miles in total. The hike has views of the Catskills on a clear day and Rainbow Falls at the end.
Places to Check Out Near Minnewaska State Park
Shawangunk Ridge State Forest
Shawangunk Ridge State Forest is super close to Minnewaska State Park and has a gorgeous hike with similar views to what Minnewaska State Park has to offer. This is definitely a good place to go if you are unable to get parking at Minnewaska State Park Preserve.
Mohonk Preserve is adjacent to Minnewaska State Park Preserve. It has many hikes and also a gorgeous hotel. We honestly have never been here before because it is pretty expensive, but we hope to visit here someday!
New Paltz is a super adorable town that is very close to Minnewaska State Park Preserve. I love this little town and always love exploring it when we visit Minnewaska. New Paltz has a lot of cute cafes, shops, and restaurants. It is nice town to park your car and stroll through all the little streets and explore all of the shops.
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Have you visited Minnewaska State Park Preserve before? What is your favorite New York State Park? Let me know down in the comments below!
Thanks so much for reading!