The weekend is here, and you want to see or do something exciting, but just don’t know what? What about planning a day trip from New York or New Jersey to see some breathtaking waterfalls and ice caves? One of the best places to visit outside of New York is the Minnewaska State Park Preserve in Kerhonkson, NY.
Minnewaska State Park is perfect for hiking near NYC. Don’t worry if hiking is not your thing, Lake Minnewaska is perfect for swimming and to cool off in the hot summer months. For those that love waterfalls, there is plenty to see – from the Stony Kills Falls, Awosting Falls, to the Verkeerderkill Falls. And as a bonus to this New York state park, don’t miss visiting the Ice Caves located near Sam’s Point area.
About Minnewaska State Park Preserve
The Minnewaska State Park Preserve is in the southern part of the New York state in Wawarsing (most GPS devices will have it under Kerhonkson, NY). This state park in NY is fairly huge, encompassing over 22,000 acres of land. Due to the large size hikes in Minnewaska state park gives visitors sufficient room to explore nature and hiking trails to test their limits.
In this article, we’ll cover the following scenic points and valuable information that you should know including parking and hiking directions for each one:
- Stony Kill Falls
- Awosting Falls
- Sam’s Point Overlook Area (Verkeerder Kill Falls and Ice Caves)
- Camping and Accommodation
You can also check out the map of Minnewaska State Park for the Awosting Falls here and a welcome map for Sam’s Point Area here. If you rather have a printed map, when you enter the state preserve, the cashier will offer you a copy of a Minnewaska State Park map.
Minnewaska State Park Hours and Fees
The park opens daily at 9:00 AM and closes adjusting to the season, but hours are posted on the park’s entrance.
The Park Preserve is free to enter, but a parking fee of $10 is required.
The Park Preserve’s Rules and Regulations
- No recreational vehicles
- Empire Pass accepted
- No camping in the park – designated campground area nearby
- Barbequing and cooking are not permitted
- Dogs on leash allowed (maximum six-foot leash)
- Lake Minnewaska swimming is only allowed when lifeguards are on duty.
- Lake Awosting is located in the central part of the park.
Stony Kill Falls
The Stony Kill Falls is an 87 feet tall cascade waterfall that is situated in the northern part of the Minnewaska Preserve in the town of Wawarsing. Not only will you find a magnificent view of a waterfall here, but above it, there is a pool above the waterfall known as the “Nudist Pool.” It’s a tradition to bathe and swim nude in this natural pool body of springs water.
Directions and Parking Location
Getting to this awesome waterfall location is fairly easy. Let’s start with the Stony Kill Falls directions first. The main road around Minnewaska State Park Preserve is Route 44 in Wawarsing. You need to turn left on Minnewaska Trail, about 6 miles from the upper parking lot location of the state park preserve which is near Awosting falls. Then take the next left again on Rock Haven Rd, which is a narrow road that you will follow for few miles until you see Shaft 2A Road to turn left into.
The Stony Kill Falls NY parking location is at the end of Shaft 2A Road. The street is closed off by a gate – please do not block it – and all parking is on the street. Some say that it’s hard to find parking after 10 AM, but during my visit to the waterfalls, there were barely more than four cars on the road around 11 AM. I guess it depends on your luck.
Now, let’s move on to the Stony Kill Falls hike – this one easy hike that I would recommend to any beginner. It takes less than 10 minutes to reach the waterfalls from the parking lot, and the Stony Kill Falls hiking trail is mostly a smooth walk on a gravel road.
Now, if you want to extend your hike to the Stony Kill Falls swimming hole that some might know as the Nudist Pool, going up the narrow and slippery stairs can be a challenge that you can beat with self-pacing.
What You Need to Know at Stony Kill Falls
- No restrooms or anything in the area – it’s a pure forest.
- Dogs are welcome – must always be on a leash (max. 6-foot).
- Beware of rattlesnakes (Warning signs as you enter the Stony Kill Falls Hiking Trail)
- Beware of other animals – deer, bears, etc.
- The hike to the waterfalls is very easy and short.
- The Falls might be wheelchair accessible up to the bridge where the first stone stairs start. The overlook point is past the bridge and there are many more stairs after that point.
- Planning to visit the Nudist Pool with your dog? The stairs are very slippery and small, so I would not recommend trying to climb them with your dog unless you can carry it. I have a boxer, so it was a no go for us.
Awosting Falls is a natural waterfall in the Minnewaska State Park. The waterfall’s tallest drop is 60 feet from where the water freely plunges into a crystal-clear broad pool. Depending on the weather conditions, Awosting Falls can provide a different experience to visitors. The water stream can be anything from massive to modest. Either way, I’d say it’s a place worth visiting as the surroundings are just mesmerizing. Even though swimming is not allowed, be sure to cool of your feet in the natural spring water.
Parking at the Minnewaska Park – Awosting Falls Site
So, in this particular section of the park preserve, there are two parking lots – upper and lower. The upper parking lot is closer to Lake Minnewaska, and the lower parking lot is near the Awosting Falls. Regardless of where you park, there are hiking trails that connect the Falls to the Lake.
The parking fee is $10 for the day, or you can use your Empire Pass.
If you parked at the lower parking lot (this is one straight ahead once you enter the park), then all you have to do is follow the gravel pathway that starts from the restrooms. The trail will take you straight down to the Awosting Falls.
As you are crossing the street and bridge toward the waterfalls, the Awosting Falls Red Trail will be on your left and the Lake Minnewaska Trail will be on the right.
- Restrooms are located by the lower parking lot
- Lake Minnewaska is at the upper parking lot
- Biking is allowed on the Awosting Falls Red Trail.
- Swimming is not allowed in the Peter’s Kill river (at the waterfalls.)
- Dogs must be leashed on a maximum six-foot leash.
- It’s a carry-in/carry-out park.
- Sheldon and Peter’s Kill Falls (points 2 and 1) are not in the Awosting Falls section of the park. They are across Route 44, the map inaccurately displays them near the Awosting Falls.
Sam’s Point Area, Verkeerder Kill Falls, and The Ice Caves
The Minnewaska State Park Preserve Sam’s point area is the highest point and can be found in the southern part of the park. The Ice Caves and the Verkeerder Kill Falls are three and six miles north in the park, respectively.
Sam’s Point Visitor Center Parking
Parking at the visitor center by Sam’s Point is the closest parking location to the ice caves and Verkeerder Kill Falls. The daily parking vehicle fee is $10, or you can use an Empire Pass if you have one.
Sam’s Point, Ice Caves, and Verkeerder Kill Falls Hiking Guide
Verkeerder Kill Falls are the furthest from the parking location and last hiking destination. With a complete loop, one would hike about six miles, which can average anywhere from three to eight hours.
The hiking trail starts with the Sam’s Point Road Loop (LR) to the right of the parking lot. You will reach Sam’s Point in about 45 minutes (0.6 miles), and you will hike another 0.5 miles to the start of the Ice Cave Road trail (ICR). Be careful here because the trail divides toward the Ice Caves on one side and the Verkeerderkill Falls Trail on the other side.
You will reach the Ice Caves from Sam’s point overlook area around your two-hour hiking mark. This is where the Ice Caves White trail loop starts.
Once you are done exploring the Ice Caves, you will have to go back toward the LR trail to get on the Verkeerder Kill Falls Trail. The Verkeerderkill Falls Trail is about 2.1 miles long, which can take you anywhere from one hour to two to reach.
Things to Keep in Mind
- The Ice Caves are closed in the winter.
- The Sam’s Point overlook area to Ice Caves to Verkeerder Kill Falls Trail Loop takes around six-hours, so dedicate an entire day to it.
Staying overnight and Accommodations
Minnewaska state park camping
For those that are planning to go camping, the Minnewaska State Park does not allow camping. The park is limited to day use only. However, the Sam Pryor Shawangunk Gateway Campground is only a few miles east of the Minnewaska Park Preserve. If you are interested in a camping trip, then check out the American Alpine Club to reserve your camping spot.
Hotels near Minnewaska state park preserve
For those that want more comfortable accommodation, there are plenty of rentals to choose from near the Park Reserve.
All in all, the Minnewaska State Park Preserve is a great destination for anyone who wants to stay in touch with nature. This destination offers all kinds of activities to visitors, from hiking and swimming to relaxing and discovering amazing waterfalls. So, regardless of the season, when you want a true New York adventure, consider visiting this 22,275-acre temple of nature.