You came Upstate to enjoy the country and nature. In Ulster County you have hit pay dirt. Not only does Ulster County play host to most of the Catskill Park but it is also the home of the Shawangunk Ridge, or “the Gunks” as it’s known to locals. There are nearly 20 miles of the ridge protected, traversing the towns of Rosendale, Marbletown, New Paltz, Gardiner, Rochester, Wawarsing, and Shawangunk.
Between Minnewaska State Park and the Mohonk Preserve there are a plethora of opportunities for swimming, hiking, biking, running, alpine skiing, snowshoeing and climbing. Picnicking, scuba-diving, horseback riding, boating and just plain old enjoying the scenery are all possible on the ridge.
Minnewaska Lake Park, off NYS Route 44/55 in Kerhonkson, is accessible with a New York State Parks pass or a daily car fee of $8. There are 35 miles of carriage roads and 35 miles of foot paths for outdoor enthusiasts.
There are now over 23,000 acres included in Minnewaska Park making it the largest park preserve within New York State under the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. The Sam’s Point Preserve and ice caves were recently added to the park and can be accessed from the Hamlet of Craigsmore off NYS Route 52.
The Mohonk Preserve, off NYS Route 44/55 in Gardiner, holds 8,000 acres under their protection and stretches 8 miles along the ridge line. It’s New York’s largest nonprofit nature preserve and each year welcomes over 165,000 visitors. The Preserve has miles of both carriage road and single-track hiking and running trails. It’s used for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snow-biking in the winter.
World class rock climbing is found on the cliffs of the Preserve. There are over 300 routes in the eight miles of ridge line as well as rock scrambling and bouldering.