Bike Ride at Lake Minnewaska State Park – New Paltz, NY
My brother and I went mountain biking this past Saturday at Lake Minnewaska State Park Preserve in the Shawangunks or the “Gunks”. My two sons didn’t want to get up for the 7:30 AM start so they stayed home for this one. They would have loved the ride. My brother and I certainly did. It was definitely worth the 3 hour drive. We pulled into the parking lot at around 10:15 AM. The lot was already half full. By the time we finished our ride and got back to the car around 1:30 PM, the lot was full and the park entrance was closed. Cars were lined up waiting to get into the park. I can’t blame people for going there that day. It was a beautiful autumn day with the temperature in the mid seventies. The foliage was just fantastic.
We took the Upper Awosting Carriageway (Green marker) from Lake Minnewaska to Lake Awosting , around the lake on the Lake Awosting Carriageway (Black marker), and back to Lake Minnewaska by way of the Castle Point Carriageway (Blue marker). The round trip is about 12 miles and took me and my brother about three hours to complete – with plenty of stops along the way to take in the views. The first half of the route was a steady up hill with a few drips and was a lot of work. The second half of the route – the fun half – was down hill almost all the way. There was a short climb toward the end that I didn’t expect. The downhill can be fast, especially when there are no hikers on the trail to get in the way, and is dangerous, so use caution and check your speed.
Long sections of the trails are all wide old carriage road with loose gravel or dirt, exposed roots, rocks and out crops along the ledges. The trail around Lake Awosting is not a former carriage road and is narrow with lots of exposed roots and rocks. These trails are designated as multi-use, so expect families with young kids and strollers, hikers and horse riders.
I would rate the route that my brother and I took as moderate for the distance and grades. And it is a better ride and “easier” ride following our route instead of riding the revised direction. I think my 11 year old and 8 year old would have handled the trail just fine even with the distance and climbs. It would be tougher for them and for me if the ride was in summer with higher temperatures and humidity. I would not hike this route with kids. It is too long and not that interesting the first leg of the route from Lake Minnewaska to Lake Awosting.
Summary: A scenic and intense ride – due to being close to the ledges during the descends – with mostly wide rolling trails. The trails do get crowded, especial close to Lake Minnewaska and the parking lots, so get there early in the morning.
Trail Description:Lake Minnewaska State Park, Ulster County, New York. Shawangunk Mountain ridge more than 2,000 feet above sea level. Upper Awosting Carriageway (Green) from Lake Minnewaska to Lake Awosting , around the lake on the Lake Awosting Carriageway (Black), and back to Lake Minnewaska by way of the Castle Point Carriageway (Blue). Twelve miles round trip: first half mostly steady up hill climbs; second half mostly down hill descend with loose rock and gravel and drops. Use caution and check your speed during descend. Yield to riders on horseback and hikers. Helmet required.
How I got there: From the south, we took exit 18 off the New York Thruway (I-87) and turn left onto Route 299 west. Went through town and continue until Route 299 ended. Made a right onto NY Route 44/55 west. Drove drive up the hill with the hair pin turn (a landmark?), passed the rock climbing area for another three miles(?), and turned left to enter the park. Paid $6.00 at the gate and got a trail map. Drove a short distant up to the parking lot and parked.