If you are looking for a nice day trip for sightseeing, hiking, and exploring new things in the Catskills, NY area, then Minnewaska State Park is definitely the one. The Minnewaska state park is one of the most unique, popular, and beautiful state parks in New York. The park is located in Shawangunk Mountain ridge in Ulster County of New York state. It is approximately a 1 and ½ hour drive from New York City and just off of Route 44-55.
Minnewaska State Park Preserve has two sections, the main area and Sam’s Point area. It takes 30 mins to drive from one section to the other. The main area features the stunning Awosting Falls and the pristine Minnewaska Lake. The Sam’s Point area, which is the southernmost point of the park, is located on the highest part of the Shawangunk Mountains. Unlike the main area, a reservation is required to visit Sam’s Point area. This recreation area features pristine mountain lakes carved by glaciers during the last ice age and offers a wide range of activities from hiking to stunning waterfalls, biking on the carriageway trails, rock climbing up epic cliffs, swimming, scuba-diving and boating in the sparkling lakes, horseback riding, and of course: picnicking with stunning views.
Lake Minnewaska is located in the main area of Minnewaska State Park Preserve. This natural glacier carved lake is one of the five lakes on the Shawangunk Ridge. The lake is half a mile long with a two mile easy loop trail encircling it. The Lake Minnewaska Loop trail is a gravel path and offers many scenic vistas with spectacular views of the pristine lake, the forested area, hanging cliffs, streams, and beautiful wildflowers. The Lake Minnewaska Trail is also used to access the other trails and is one of the park’s carriage roads too.
These photos are from a day trip to Minnewaska State Park on June 11th, 2022.
Quick Facts and Tips
- The park is open year round from 9 am to 8 pm, hours will change seasonally.
- There will be an entry fee of $10 per car
- Be sure to check the park website for the current trail conditions and road closures.
- The Lake Minnewaska Loop trail is an easy, about 2 mile loop trail, a marked gravel path with some ups and downs.
- Best time to explore this trail is from April to October when you can get the best view of the lake.
- The closest parking lot for the Lake Minnewaska Loop trail is the Upper Parking Lot near the visitor center (Google map). The trail can also be accessed from the Lower parking Lot (Google map).
- Carry water bottles, pack snacks. and wear comfortable shoes.
- The Lake Minnewaska Loop trail is an easy almost 2 miles gravel path that circles the ½ mile long lake.
- The picturesque view of the lake and the cliffs can be seen directly behind the visitor center. The visitor center has art and educational exhibits about the environment, information about the surrounding nature, and how to preserve it. The visitor center has drinking water, restrooms, and an outdoor patio area with a bunch of picnic tables.
- The shorter route to reach the top of the magnificent cliffs to have stunning views of the lake is by hiking clockwise from the parking lot/visitor center on the Lake Minnewaska loop. With just a quarter mile hike, you can reach the top and soak in the beautiful views. The area is a grassy flat area with picnic tables along the land as well as near the cliff edge. This is a great spot to stop and rest for a bit while enjoying the incredible beauty of the Minnewaska State Park Preserve.
- Take extra caution at the top as there are no railings along the cliff edges. The views are stunning up here and are the best part of this entire hike.
- The trail climbs up and down offering a fantastic vista overlooking the Ulster County countryside and wooded areas with a few beautiful views of lake
- Starting the hike in a counterclockwise direction will lead to the lake’s small beach. During the summer months, this could be a great spot to cool off after hiking.
- It is worth hiking the Awosting Falls trail either before or after visiting the Lake Minnewaska.
- Be aware of snakes and watch your steps along the trails.