Mohonk Mountain House

September 16, 2010

One of the most interesting areas of the Hudson Valley — especially for the breadth of its activities — is the Shawangunk Ridge near New Paltz, home of the Mohonk Mountain House, Mohonk Preserve and Minnewaska State Park Preserve, totalling over 20,000 acres. The two Smiley Brothers — Alfred and Albert — purchased the land around Lakes Mohonk, Minnewaska and Awosting in the 19th century and built hotels with extensive networks of carriage roads, which enabled their guests to enjoy the incredible views over the valleys on both sides of the Ridge.

Today, the carriage roads are used for biking as well as hiking. In addition there are miles of hiking trails throughout the rugged terrain of the Preserve and the State Park. The Mountain House has a Scottish golf course. Lake Minnewaska has a beach for family swimming. The limestone cliffs are popular with rock climbers — in fact, they provide the best technical climbing in the New York metro area — some say in the Northeast.

Mohonk Mountain House is a castle built on the shore of its lake, enabling guests to relax in rockers on the classic verandah while watching families in rowboats and couples in canoes and the somewhat more adventurous walking to the Skytop tower on the hill directly across the lake. The Mountain House is popular for weddings and boasts a dining room serving three gourmet meals a day for overnight guests. Tea is served at 4.

I spent a day recently hiking with a group of friends from the North Jersey-Ramapo Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club (as day guests of the Mohonk Mountain House). After the obligatory climb to Skytop to limber up, we hiked carriage roads and hiking trails in an 8-mile loop. We had lunch on rocks facing the nearby Catskills to the northwest. On our return to the Mountain House, we had tea and cookies, showered at the Fitness Center/Spa/Pool, and then enjoyed an excellent dinner attentively served.

For information on activities:
Mohonk Mountain House (mohonk.com) 845-255-1000
Mohonk Preserve (mohonkpreserve.org) 845-255-0919
Minnewaska State Park Preserve (nysparks.state.ny.us/parks/127/details.aspx) 845-255-0752

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