The rocky backbone of the Shawangunk Ridge, otherwise known as the ’Gunks, extends through parts of the Hudson Valley into the Catskills and offers countless paths to rock climb or hike toward some incredible valley views. And the Village of New Paltz in Ulster County, located about 10 minutes by car from Mohonk Preserve, makes a convenient base of operations from which to explore the ’Gunks.
There are B&Bs, and then there’s Moondance Ridge Bed & Breakfast (55 Shivertown Road). Situated on a country road just outside the village of New Paltz, this 1900s Craftsman-style-home-turned-B&B offers rooms decorated in the theme of Hollywood’s Golden Era, three-course breakfasts, and a full-service spa, garden labyrinth, and wildlife habitat. There’s even an art gallery. The Moonshadow and Starry Night rooms feature their own balconies ($259/night mid-week; $279/weekend).
Refresh with a whirlpool dip or sauna visit at Moondance Ridge, and then get ready for your reservation at A Tavola Trattoria for a little carb-loading. Located up Main Street from Moondance, A Tavola offers seasonally minded, locally-sourced rustic Italian fare in a laid-back environment.
Moondance stays include breakfast, but proprietress Kathy Drew also provides to-go for the road.
Grab a cup of ambition at Mudd Puddle Coffee Roasters at Water Street Market (10 Main Street). Though the café’s name is playful, owners James Walsh and Michelle Tablas Walsh take coffee roasting seriously. With cup in hand, wander around the open-air shopping square, which offers a host of antiques and boutiques, not to mention a sculpture garden, cafés, and a pub. Need a loaner bike to get around the shops? Borrow one at Water Street…for free.
Nobody visits the ’Gunks without doing some hiking. Rock and Snow (44 Main Street) has all the backpacks, shoes, rock climbing and camping equipment, and clothing needed, as well as rentals (a.k.a. gear that doesn’t need to be dragged back home).
To stock up on food for the hike, head down the hill to Karma Road Organic Café (11 Main Street), which offers “organic food from the soul,” including sandwiches for grab-and-go, smoothies and shakes, and fresh vegan and vegetarian dishes prepared in-house.
For hiking, it doesn’t get much more glorious in the ’Gunks than Mohonk Preserve. Start at the Visitor’s Center (3197 Route 44/55, Gardiner), where there’s ample parking, trail maps, and access to all four trails in the Preserve. The West Trapps Trail runs through Mohonk Preserve, and also passes through a portion of another popular park, the Minnewaska State Park Preserve. Prepare for views. Turn off that cell phone and take time to stare at them. $12/hiker.
Travel into the Catskills for dinner at Aroma Thyme Bistro in Ellenville (165 Canal Street), the Hudson Valley’s first green-certified restaurant. It’s a 40-minute drive from Moondance Ridge, but with menu items like Alaskan Coho salmon, roasted garlic pesto chicken, plus grass-fed beef burgers and tons of vegetarian options, it’s worth the trip.
After crushing it at Mohonk, celebrate with a nightcap back in New Paltz at Jar’d Wine Pub (Water Street Market, 10 Main Street) and select a glass—or a bottle, who are we to judge?—of wine from the extensive menu. Or order a Yard Owl beer, brewed in New Paltz.
The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail is perfect for biking, and it starts right in the village. After fueling up with a three-course breakfast from Moondance, leg it over to one of New Paltz’s two bicycle shops. Already got a bike? Get it tuned up at the Bicycle Rack (13 North Front Street). Or reserve a bike ahead of time at Bike Depot (15 Main Street). $35/day, $25/half-day (after 2pm).
Ride the Rail Trail from North Front Street north to Rosendale. It’s a 14-mile round trip—a mostly flat trail with just a little hilly terrain thrown in to keep things interesting. Don’t pack lunch; the Rail Trail Café is a food truck that can only be accessed from the trail. Enjoy green drinks, salads, or pizzas for fuel, and then continue north. The whole trip takes around 2 hours to complete, but it will feel like an epic adventure.
Take some of the Hudson Valley home from the New Paltz Farmer’s Market, located in front of the community center (Veteran Drive), open from 10am to 3pm. Vendors come from throughout the area and include small farms, bakeries, vineyards, and maple syrup producers. Or head over to the High Falls Flea Market to hunt for antiques, collectibles, crafts, art, or retro treasures. Operated by the D&H Canal Historical Society, it runs from 9am to 4pm.
Before heading back to the city, have an early dinner at Gomen Kudasai (232 Main Street), where you’ll be served healthy Japanese dishes with organic, fresh ingredients. Back home in the city, retire early from that whirlwind tour of the ’Gunks, and dream about a return visit. Anybody who’s ever visited the ’Gunks always comes back.