Then there's the quieter
side of Mohonk, the more pastoral and open landscapes,
the quiet creeks, little waterfalls and solitude.
Where the southern section
of Mohonk is very "in your face" and strident with
its bold outcroppings and towering cliffs covered
with people, the western section and the north of
Mohonk allow you to experience solitude, take a quick
dip in a mountain stream or ponder the vast expanse
of the Catskill Mountains looming in the distance.
By happy coincidence these
sections of Mohonk are also less visited and trafficked.
You can more easily slip into the quiet of the woods
or spend time finding wild flowers and birds.
There are two different
access points into these sides of Mohonk. On Clove
Road just north of Route 44/55 is the Coxing Entrance
to Mohonk. This is a very small access point with
parking for only about 20 cars, but well worth the
time for a quick visit if you are able.
Just beyond the end
of the parking area is Split Rock, a cleft with the
Coxing Kill cascading down into it. At the bottom of
this little falls the Kill forms a deep pool, crystal
clear and mountain water cold. Although swimming is
not sanctioned by the Mohonk Preserve, individuals have
been observed "accidentally" wandering into the water
only to find themselves paddling about in search of
the opposite shore. Naturally you don't want to leave
your togs and equipment, having been able to shed them
as you fell into the water, so you have to paddle back!
Miraculously this spot
seems to be very popular on hot summer days...
Across the Kill you can
access two trails. Leading away to the right is the
Shongum Path down which, about a half mile, is the
Trapps Bridge and the junctions of Overcliff, Undercliff
and Trapps Carriageways. Leading away to the left
is the Minnewaska Trail leading in about two miles
to the Mountain House. At the other end of the parking
area, on Clove Road, is High Peter's Kill Trail, leading
toward the Peter's Kill Escarpment in Minnewaska State
Park Preserve in about one and one half to two miles.
The other, and larger,
access point in this section of Mohonk is Spring Farm.
Located at the opposite end of Mohonk on 27 Knolls
Road, Spring Farm is the only parking area for the
northern sections of Mohonk. You can reach Spring
Farm from two directions. If you are at the Coxing
Entrance, just continue to follow Clove Road to the
north and keep bearing to the right when you have
a choice. Once you reach Mountain Rest Road, (County
Route 6), and start seeing signs for Mohonk Mountain
House start watching. Mountain Rest Road will take
a sharp turn to the left and shortly after that a
sharp turn to the right. At the end of that turn is
27 Knolls Road on the left. Or you can get to Spring
Farm by heading west out of New Paltz on Mountain
Rest Road and going past the main entrance to Mohonk
Mountain House. After the entrance the road starts
going downhill down the western face of the ridge.
At your first major turn, to the left, you will see
27 Knolls Road on the right.
From the Spring Farm parking
area you can access miles and miles of carriageways
and trails. A favorite is to head off to Bonticou
Crag, an escarpment on the eastern side of the ridge.
To get to Bonticou Crag via the easy route, leave
the parking area and follow Spring Farm Road as it
heads to the east away from the parking area. In about
half a mile you will come to Cedar Drive, take that
to the left. Cedar Drive meanders along slowly ascending
the ridge providing spectacular views off to the northwest
of the Catskills. It will also take you through dense
hardwood forests and picturesque glens.
After Cedar Drive has
come full back and heading in the opposite direction
you will come across Cedar Trail branching off to
the left. Cedar Trail is blazed in red. Take Cedar
Trail and in less than a half mile you will junction
with Northeast Trail blazed in blue. Continue to the
left a short distance and Bonticou Crag Trail will
branch off to the right, blazed in yellow.
Continue heading uphill
and in about another half mile you will have reached
the summit of Bonticou Crag. The views from atop Bonticou
are spectacular as you are on the highest point in
the area. You will have unsurpassed views of the entire
length of the Shawangunk Ridge to your south, the
Hudson Valley to your east, and the Catskill Mountains
towards the north and northwest. Be prepared to linger
as you will have reached one of the most spectacular
locations in the Shawangunks.
From Spring Farm you can
also access Bonticou Carriageway by following Spring
Farm Road, which will lead you directly into the heart
of the Mohonk Mountain House property, about two and
one half to three miles away. Almost all of the trails
and paths accessible from Spring Farm are easy to
moderate and all are well worth the time.
Wherever you decide to
enter Mohonk make sure you know and follow the simple
rules. Also make sure you have a good trail map. If
you pay for your day ticket at the Trapps Visitor
Center they will provide you with an absolutely excellent
map for the area you are heading towards. And don't
be bashful! The volunteers at the Visitor Center are
happy to share their knowledge of Mohonk to make sure
your visit is pleasant. You can also pay for your
day pass at any of the other access points or when
a Ranger sees you out on the trails. They are there
to help you and guide you as well as collect your
money. But in those locations you will not be able
to get a copy of the map. So we suggest you get copies
of the New York - New Jersey Trail Conference's Shawangunk
Trails maps, available in many locations in the New
Parking is always an issue
in the Shawangunks. Suffice it to say that it is extremely
limited. On any pleasant day the chances of your being
unable to find a parking spot in the Route 44/55 section
is generally pretty good, you may be locked out. Access
is limited by the number of parking spaces available,
so if you plan to go on a weekend, make sure to arrive
early. If you arrive and can't park, don't give up,
change your plans. Try the Coxing Entrance or head
north to the Spring Farm entrance. Between those two
you will almost always find a way in.
You should also note that
there are absolutely no facilities in the
Mohonk Preserve. Portable bathrooms are located
at the Trapps Bridge and the two other parking areas,
but that is the full extent of facilities available
out on the trails. There is no water, food or accommodations
of any kind. So make sure to plan ahead and bring
the supplies and equipment you are going to need.
The closest store is down Route 44/55 at the junction
of Route 299, or in New Paltz. And remember, whatever
you carry into Mohonk you must carry back out with
If you enter Mohonk as
a day pass visitor to the Mountain House, there is
a visitors kiosk with a snack bar, gift shop and rest
rooms. Day visitors are not allowed in the Mountain
House at all.
THE FOLLOWING! MORE INJURIES AND DEATH OCCUR ANNUALLY
FROM PEOPLE FALLING OFF THE EDGE OF A CLIFF THAN FROM
ANY OTHER CAUSE IN THE SHAWANGUNKS! Exercise
extreme caution and use your common sense at all times.
Pay attention to where you are and where you are going.
It sounds simple, but you would be surprised.