Even when MI OLA women live in big cities, we’re always looking for ways to #getoutthere.
Drive two hours north of New York City and you’re well out of the concrete jungle and in a different type of wilderness: the Shawangunk Mountains, a ridge of bedrock spanning across Ulster, Sullivan and Orange Counties in NY. The “Gunks” are an all-year-round, outdoor enthusiasts’ playground.
What to Do:
Claimed as the East Coast’s greatest climbing area, the Shawangunks has more rock climbing routes than any single location East of the Mississippi River. The majority of the routes fall in the easy to moderate range and are a great place for beginners to get addicted to rock climbing. To escape the skyscrapers of New York City, Team Rider Kristen used to head to the Shawangunks, where she had her very first climbing lesson. Alpine Endeavours offers full-day private guides from $130 per person, as well as group courses from $100 per person. You can rent gear and get lessons at Rock & Snow in nearby New Paltz. The staff is very knowledgeable and all around awesome.
The Shawangunk Ridge Trail (SRT) starts at the Appalachian Trail in High Point State Park in New Jersey and heads north along the southern Shawangunks, then northeast through Sam’s Point Preserve, Minnewaska State Park and the Mohonk Preserve in New York. There are 71 miles of trail, with incredible views and waterfalls. Once in New Paltz, head to Minnewaska State Park or the Mohonk Preserve, which border each other.
– Minnewaska State Park offers a wide range of hikes. The park opens at 9 am, has a $12 fee, and there is a carry in-carry out policy.
– Mohonk Preserve offers over 30 miles of carriage road and trails. Park opens at 9 am and the fee is $12 for hikers. There are 4 trailheads. Click here for more information.
There are a few good ice climbing guide services offering staff who are highly experienced and state-licensed in ice mountaineering. They are also certified by the American Mountain Guides Association. You can find guides through Alpine Endeavors or High Xposure in New Paltz.
From road to mountain biking, there are hundreds of miles of tarmac and trails in the Shawangunks. There are over 30 miles of carriage roads in the Mohonk Preserve, with varied scenery ranging from cliff-top views to open meadows. Because of the sudden elevations in the “Gunks”, many of the bike routes will test your endurance and strength. As a result, it has become known as a great place to train. Remember to always wear a helmet and pay the park entrance fee of $17 for bikers.
Not ready to slide down this slippery slope? No worries! The topography is great for both novice and experienced bikers. To find the perfect bicycle for you and your family in the “Gunks” visit Lightsey Cycles in the Hamlet of Gardiner, 6 miles outside New Paltz.
The Shawangunk Kill is the largest tributary of the Wallkill River. A 47.2-mile-long stream that flows from the town of Greenville to Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties. Canoe, fish, raft, tube or dip in after a long hike. This is the perfect playground for the MI OLA girl.
A popular spot is the 87-foot high Stony Kill Falls in Minnewaska State Park Preserve. Bring a towel and wear your favorite MI OLA suit. This fantastic swimming hole is not one to miss.
Drive: From New York City, take the George Washington Bridge to the Palisades Interstate Parkway. Then head West on the New York State Thruway (287) to 87 North. Get off at the exit for New Paltz. The “Gunks” are six miles West of New Paltz, on Route 44/55.
Train: The closest train station to the Gunks is in Poughkeepsie. Metro North runs regularly from Grand Central Station, NY to Poughkeepsie and back. Amtrak leaves from Penn Station in NYC and also stops in Poughkeepsie. From Poughkeepsie by car, it’s about 20 minutes to New Paltz or 30 minutes to the Gunks.
Bus: Adirondack Trailways buses stop in downtown New Paltz. It’s a pretty comfy ride from New York City. Ulster County Area Transit or UCAT bus service also stops in downtown New Paltz from Poughkeepsie and other towns in Ulster County. Buses don’t get any closer to the cliffs than this. It’s another 15-20 minutes from the bus station in New Paltz to the Mohonk Preserve’s Visitor’s Center.
Entry: You’ll need to get day passes from the Mohonk Preserve or park ranger.
Where to Stay:
The Mohonk Mountain House is a grand 19th-century lakeside retreat surrounded by endless trails to hike, bike and climb. Cozy accommodation, a great lake for watersport, a nifty communal dining hall and activities to suit all ages await at this New Paltz resort.
The Minnewaska Lodge is a uniquely designed 26-room property in the quaint town of Gardiner, New York. Surrounded by 25,000 acres of State park preserve, nestled upon 17 acres at the base of the Shawangunk Mountains, this Hudson Valley hotel offers a tranquil boutique experience.
If you have camping gear, the Shawangunks offers several camping grounds. Camping fee is $38 per night.
Where to Eat:
New Paltz has no shortage of restaurants and different cuisines. The Main Street Bistro has good food and a mellow vibe. Bacchus Restaurant has a massive beer menu, great grub and cool billiards. At the quaint, dog-friendly Mudd Puddle Coffee Roasters and Cafe you’ll stretch your tummy not your pocket. Other great options are Plaza Diner and A Tavola. During summer and early fall be sure to check out the roadside farm stands for fresh fruits and vegetables.