Lake Minnewaska, NY: 6/27/10

Since moving to the NYC area in 1997, I’ve made several dozen trips to Lake Minnewaska NY near New Paltz, and it never disappoints.

Awosting Falls

Directly south of the Catskills, but a completely different kettle of fish topographically, it’s the outdoor equivalent of a high-end department store with mountain biking, hiking, climbing, swimming, berry picking, and gazing at wild flowers, incredible rock formations, and stunning vistas.

Top Falls

 Rock Wall on Trapps Road

Castle Point Carriageway

The only disappointment was that the incredible early-summer display of mountain laurel — you have to see it to believe it — had peaked a couple weeks ago. I should have called at the end of May and checked on its progress.

Wild Blueberries at Lake Minnewaska NY

But the good news was that the wild blueberries, acres and acres of them, are ahead of schedule. We gorged at several points throughout the ride.

12 comments on “Lake Minnewaska, NY: 6/27/10

  1. Only about 5% of the total bushes have ripe fruit (mainly at the upper elevations), but you could spend an afternoon picking the available berries right now.

    Once you know what a blueberry bush looks like, it’s astounding how many there are: almost limitless (as my riding partner yesterday, can now attest).

  2. Not surprised about the laurel being past peak — it seems everything is about 2 to 3 weeks ahead of schedule this year. The Shawangunks are a truly special place. In addition to hiking, mountain biking and climbing in the warmer months, there’s also some great cross country skiing in the winter. Both Minnewaska and the adjoining Mohonk Preserve groom trails when snow conditions allow. Perhaps we’ll have an opportunity to post a cross country skiing TR here on Harvey Road this winter.

  3. I x-c skied there eight years ago after a 14-inch dump and had a great time. Definitely something to consider if there hasn’t been any recent snow in the Catskills.

  4. I don’t know much about the Gunks. I have seen them from the air in a small plane. From there it looked like that ridgeline extends all the way from the Poconos or Delaware Water Gap up into the Catskills – THE dominant geological feature in that part of New York. James from your pics, it looks like limestone … is it a caving meca too?

  5. Harv, the next time we plan a Gunks outing, I strongly suggest that you come along. It’s one of the most unique places you’ll ever visit.
    In addition to the Lake Minnewaska/Mohonk Preserve areas, a must-visit is the Napanoch Ice Caves. Juliet and I went there on one of our first dates ten years ago as part of an Appalachian Mountain Club hike, and it was pretty amazing. There were still snow banks on the surface and it was 92 degrees outside in the middle of August. Inside were huge ice deposits that never melt, and if you can handle dark confined spaces, you can go pretty deep into the caves. Obviously, not something you want to attempt on your own.

    Here is a kinda scratchy video of the Ice Caves to give you an idea of the entrances.

    For more info, check out the Shawangunk Wikipedia entry.

  6. What up with ice in caves? I’ve never seen that before. People up here tell me there’s ice year round in some caves, some even used to raid it for keg parties back in their youth….Remember those!

    Caves are low 50 degrees year round, why the ice? Is it just near the cave’s mouth and left over from winter? Always been curious about it. Thanks.

  7. Forgot to add, agree mtn laurel blooms can be very pretty. Sometimes there’s a whole hillside covered in them. It’s the State flower in Pennsylvania, we used to see large areas in bloom. Beautiful! Great bear cover too. We used to pick wild Teaberrys in Pa. Yep, they taste just like the gum.

  8. Harv, the Gunks are a Quartz Conglomerate.. Because of this type of rock and the horizontal cracks. The Gunks have become a world class climbing area. On a sunny fall weekend upwards of 1000 climbers from around the world will be there…Even if you don’t climb , this is a place that you should visit, truly magical.

  9. Snowballs: The temperature inside the ice caves is no joke, and it ain’t 50 degrees. They told us to “dress appropriately,” so it being August, I brought a sweat shirt and light work gloves. Big mistake, I froze my arse off. The ice wasn’t only at the mouth of the cave.

    FYI, according to the Wikipedia link above, “ice caves are deep fissures in the conglomerate bedrock that retain ice through much of the summer, resulting in a cool micro-environment.”

    Teaberry, I need to keep an eye out for that plant, it’s great. Do they still sell that gum?

  10. Thread drift … the caves up on Chimney Mountain, in the Northwestern corner of the Siamese Ponds Wilderness, hold snow and ice year round. Many of these caves have upward pointing openings. I always assumed that the snow piled in during the winter and was protected from sun and warmth enough to make it though the summer. It’s really “cool” on a hot summer day to hike to the top of Chimney, sit next to an opening and feel the air conditioning. Actual spelunking? No thanks. I like my spaces wide open thank you!

  11. Thanks Jamesdeluxe….I wonder what causes them to be sooo much colder than other caves. Northern climes? Very curious. Caves I’ve been in or read about invariable are in the 50s. Those have all been in southern Pennsylvania or south of the Mason Dixon line.

    Just an fyi for all, Luray Caverns in Virginia is absolutely spectacular. There’s more beautiful formations in it than one can imagine. Nonstop. They do still sell Teaberry gum, though it’s hard to find. Don’t know if Teaberry grows wild in NY. For those who don’t know, it’s a low to the ground bush with red berries slightly smaller than peas. Very tasty.

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