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Shawangunks Region Menu
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The "Gunks"

The Shawangunks, (pronounced SHON-gums), stretch 50 miles from the New Jersey border at Port Jervis northeast to Rosendale in a series of parallel rolling ridges. Dramatic white quartz vertical escarpments line the south east face of the ridge, while the back sides gently slope northwestward, sinking into fertile river valleys. Geologically, the Shawangunks are part of the Appalachian Mountain chain that passes through the Hudson Valley creating the dramatic Hudson Highlands.

The Shawangunk ridgetop is an ecosystem of pitch pine barrens, dwarf pine plains, quartz conglomerate cliffs, slabrock and virgin hemlock forests and is home to many rare and endangered species. In 1994 The Nature Conservancy designated the Shawangunks as one of the 75 "Last Great Places" in the world.

Outdoor entheuasists come to the Shawangunks for a variety of reasons; hiking on the extensive system of carriage roads and long distance foot paths; nature study; cross country skiing; mountain biking; and rock climbing. They come to enjoy a scenic natural area, relatively untouched by development, within two hours of New York City.

The Shawangunk Mountains are rich in wildlife providing habitats for spotted salamander, migratory birds, black bear, bobcat, fox, fisher and over 200 species of nesting birds. Rare and endangered species found along the ridge include clustered sedge, broom crowberry, timber rattlesnake, hyssop skullcap, Carolina cranesbill, and mountain spleenwort. You might also be lucky enough to spot one of the peregrine falcons that nest on cliffs in the ridge where they are making a tenuous recovery here.

Three areas of the ridge are protected from development and are open to you for your enjoyment:

Sams Point - Nature Conservancy

Sam’s Point Dwarf Pine Ridge Preserve contains the best example of a ridgetop dwarf pine barrens in the world. It is part of the 90,000-acre Northern Shawangunk Mountains, whose cliffs, summits and plateaus form a unique landscape of extraordinary ecological significance. Home to nearly 40 rare plants and animals and three rare natural communities, the Northern Shawangunks represent one of the highest priorities for conservation in the northeastern United States. The Shawangunk Ridge Program is one of the chapter’s priority landscape programs.

As the name implies, barrens are often less fertile areas with a sparse canopy of stunted trees and a shrubby understory. In the Shawangunk pine barrens, pitch pine is the dominant tree, while blueberry, huckleberry and sheep laurel comprise most of the shrub layer. You can distinguish the pitch pine trees from the white pine on the ridge by looking at the needle clusters: pitch pine needles grow in clusters of three, while white pine needles grow in clusters of five. Other species such as wintergreen, wild lily-of-the-valley and a diversity of moss species serve as ground cover nestled under and amidst the dense shrubs.

Mohonk Preserve

Located just 90 miles north of New York City, the Mohonk Preserve provides visitors access to over 6,500 acres – including cliffs, forests, fields, ponds, and streams – and to a network of over 100 miles of carriage roads and trails for hiking, running, mountain biking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing. Also, the internationally renowned “Gunks” cliffs offer over 1,000 technical rock climbing routes.

The Mohonk Preserve protects over 6,500 acres of the Shawangunk Mountains, identified as one of the highest priorities for conservation in the eastern United States. Located in southeastern New York, the northern Shawangunks are a 100-square mile, semi-wilderness area used by hikers, bird watchers, climbers, skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

The largest member and visitor-supported nature preserve in New York State, the Mohonk Preserve was the first land trust established to protect the northern Shawangunk Ridge, a section of the Appalachian Mountains. Through research, education, and land management, the Preserve carries out its mission to safeguard this land and to promote a wider understanding of the environment and its role in our lives.

Minnewaska State Park Preserve

Minnewaska State Park was created in 1971 when 7,000 acres were purchased from the Lake Minnewaska Resort. The 1,200 acre section that includes Lake Minnewaska was added in 1987. The Park Preserve is characterized by unique and sensitive environments, valuable for their many rare geological and ecological features. It is situated on the dramatic Shawangunk Ridge, which rises to over 2,000 feet above sea level. Two “sky lakes” - Lake Minnewaska and Lake Awosting - are the scenic centerpieces of the Park Preserve. Hiking is permitted on marked trails and carriageways. Volunteer members of the NY-NJ Trail Conference maintain the 30 miles of hiking trails at Minnewaska. The park is open to the public upon payment of a day-use fee.

For lots more information about hiking and climbing in both Minnewaska and Mohonk, check out HV/Net's feature article, just CLICK HERE!
Shawangunks Region Map
This map is not meant as completely accurate representation of the terrain, roads and trails. HV/Net suggests that before you visit you first obtain an accurate map of the area. They are available in many locations throughout the region.
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