Poaching the Smiley Road

“Four mile post. Entering the lost community of the huckleberry pickers. You are not forgotten.”

Someone had carved this inscription into a board and nailed it to a tree at mile four, coming from Ellenville, on the Smiley carriage road.

Smiley Road
Along the Smiley Road

Earlier this month, I’d run a loop in Sam’s Point Preserve, partly inspired by Marc Fried’s book The Huckleberry Pickers. The Smiley road figures large in Fried’s book.

In 1900, the Smiley brothers, owners of Mohonk Mountain House and Cliff House and Wildmere on Lake Minnewaska, expanded their already extensive carriage road network with a seven-mile road from Lake Awosting to Ellenville.

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Sam’s Point Loop

“You come all the way up from Jersey?”

The guy who accosted me on the Publik House’s patio in Ellenville, NY, was some years older than I, sporting a bushy white beard and minding a high-spirited grandchild. I slumped in a chair, contemplating a hard-earned post-run meal and adult beverage.

Minnewaska meadow

“Yeah… I’ve been in the eastern side of Minnewaska a lot, but not so much the west side. Were you a berry picker?”

“Yep, a long time ago.” He sighed and looked into the distance. “There weren’t so many rules then.”

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Shawangunk Trail Run

I usually take Sunday as the day for a long run or ride, but the weather forecast did not bode well. Having more than paid my dues working out in the rain, I headed for Lake Minnewaska State Park on Saturday.

Wolf Jaw connector

My goal was to run west, past Lake Awosting to the High Point Trail, which goes north towards High Point, and a landmark called Four Mile Camp. This is the most remote part of Minnewaska State Park. Two years ago, I’d tried to get there from Sam’s Point Preserve, and didn’t quite make it.

Rain was a long shot on Saturday, but low clouds blanketed the parking area where the old Wildmere resort hotel had resided. I laced my running shoes, stuffed a jacket, a hat, and couple of Clif bars into my hydration pack, and set out.

Millbrook Ridge
Millbrook Ridge

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