Planning a weekend camping trip with friends? Check out Shawangunks or the Gunks in New Paltz, New York. At the peak of my love for climbing and wanting to climb outside for the first time, my friends and I planned an epic weekend here in June of 2019!
I am in Northern, New Jersey and I had heard a lot about this location from people at the climbing gym I went to and other people who went to the area for hiking. The group of friends I went with was a mix of climbers, hikers, and just outdoor enthusiasts.
Yes, you can do a day trip here but I suggest do a camping weekend with friends. Make the most of the Gunks for climbing and the Minnewaska State Park Preserve that has many different hiking trails. You will need to pay $7 per carload to enter the spot for trails.
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The park does have a couple of different entrances so be mindful of your plan so you can save money. Before I jump into all of that, I will jump into the weekend and how you can camp and stay here whether you are a climber or a hiker.
Things you need:
Here are some camping hacks:
freeze water bottle to help keep food cold and then when they thaw out you have water to drink!
So you don’t have to worry about eggs breaking, crack open the amount you expect to use into a mason jar so when you go to use them, you just have to pour them out! One thing to note, once you open the mason jar, you have to use all those eggs or they’ll turn.
Sausages, get the apple ones so it’ll smell like a feast while you’re getting ready for your adventure.
Here is a quick overview of Shawangunks Campground which is called the Gunks Campground and is part of The American Alpine Club. As you’ll see on their website, in 2014 the Palisade Interstate Park Commission finished construction of this campground. It is the campground to stay at for climbers at the gunks. If you're not a member a campsite is $38 per night, but when you split that with friends, it's not bad!
There is a trail across the street from the campground that you can walk to from the campground. The grounds are very bare bones. You get your number for where you’re staying and that will be where you set up your campsite for the night or weekend.
Day 1 - Setting Up Camp & Sleeping
When you first pull into the campsite, you’ll need to go to the office for your campsite assignment. There is a picnic area to use fire, you cannot have a fire at your campground. This was a disappointment for my friends and I since we’ve typically cooked our meals over a fire. We did consider coming to the fire after setting up our tent but felt odd since for the first night it was only five of us. More of the group was coming the following day.
After checking in we went to our campsite, which was not ideal for our set up. We could unload our stuff at the site but we had to leave our cars back at the office which was a decent walk. There are bear boxes by these campsites, but being mostly women in the ground and that removed from the facilities or just items in our car we went back to the main office to see if we could switch sites.
Thankfully we could! This worked out so much better for our cars to by next to our site. These spots do not have bear boxes since you can use your car. One thing to note, that platforms your tents are supposed to go on, are pretty small. Trying to get two tents or even your tent to fit in the space can be a challenge.
My tent is a two-person tent which my sister said was for hobbits. I am only 5’2” and my sister is 5’0”, it worked for us, but if you’re taller you might want another one or just fit one person in. One of our friends grabbed the wrong tent that ended up being a six-person tent which was very entertaining to have that fit (well take over) the platform.
Our first night we cooked food as soon as the tents were up since we got there in the evening and already had a delay with swapping tent grounds and it taking longer than planned to get to the campgrounds.
Day 2 - Climbing
In the morning, if you’ve been camping you know your body adjusts to waking with the sun. Entertaining side note - this was my sister's first-time tent camping. I would say she wasn’t overly a fan. She will tell you, she prefers to go glamping.
In the morning as friends began to wake up and we waited for our friends to arrive, we made breakfast. Thankfully, our friend let us borrow their camping stove so we made eggs, sausages, and pancakes.
Our one friend was amazed by our feast. He was used to going backpacking so to him he was amazed by the amount of food and so confused to not just have cold oats. This is there I suggest you check out my blog post for how to plan a camping trip and why it’s so important to over-communicate your plans. We did, so at least we had our due diligence covered.
After breakfast, let the climbing adventure begin. If you are not a climber the is still so much for you to do. I will break up the climbing options and exploring options below. Not all the people in our group were climbers so we didn’t split up into two groups.
Go to the visitor center and get your climbing pass, this is about $25 and gives you access to the gunks. This pass is good for only a day and prior to entering the gunks, you are checking for your pass. I suggest having the son your pack. If it’s on a wrist while climbing it can easily fall off.
The walk from the visitor center to the gunks is decent and surprisingly strenuous. It is completely uphill and steps heavy. You quad will be burning by the time you reach the groomed path where the spots to boulder and top rope are. We did not top rope since we just had a crash pad. This is super important! Do not climb without proper gear. I have not gone top-roping outside, only inside, but I will say be mindful of the routes set up.
Rope for top roping
We used The Mountain Project app to find where spots to boulder were. REI worked with other climbers to match these routes and locations. Sounds super simple and easy to find right? Incorrect. Yes, the app allows you to see the general area where a route should be on the path. However, there is a book that is written for the route at the gunks. It can take a while to find a route, but people are friendly willing to help direct you.
You can easily spend the whole day here! You’ll be tired so head out once your body spends to fingers are shredded. You’ll hike out, be mindful of how wobbly your legs are. From here we met up without friends who were nonclimbers.
Go see the beautiful sights on Minnesaunk is known for the Mohonk House. There is a beautiful waterfall to checkout. Do not get your pass at the Visitor Center, if you drive to the waterfall entrance, it will be only $10 per car to enter. This is not a difficult hike, it would probably be best called a nice walk, to the waterfall. This is a major attraction to Minnesauk State Park.
After spending time at the waterfall, outside of hiking, there aren’t many low-key options. However, New Paltz has a major art scene to it and people come from all over for farmers' markets and art scenes. Drive to the town and explore new Paltz, it is wonderful! Walk the streets, check out the different shops.
If you are not from the Northeast, you might not be familiar with Stewarts, but it is a must-stop for the region. Think of it like WaWa for the shore. Check out the Stewarts in town, their coffee for coffee lovers is amazing also their ice cream.
In the drive-in we saw this brewery that caught our eye, the non-climbers checked it out to see if it would be the spot for the group to eat out last meal together. The brewery we passed on the way in - The otter to test out for the whole group to return on our exit.
This night we had a feast. Our friends who arrived that day brought up fixings for tacos! We had SO MUCH FOOD! Since we had so much extra food we made friends with people at the nearby sights, with I highly recommend.
Don’t forget to clean all your dishes! We Brough reusable utensils and plates etc, try to be mindful to keep your waste down when camping. The water will be cold here. So it is a challenge to clean up, but if you not it’ll be cold water, it helps your expectations.
Also, if you’re planning to shower, I would say to wait till you get home. The water is freezing and you need to pay to shower. Just let that sink in. You’ll be paying for a cold shower.
Day 3 - Hiking, brewery, home!
Wake up, have another wonderful breakfast, back up all your gear, and head to Minnesauka State Park for Gertrude Nose trail. If it a $7 charge per car to enter the park. From here you’ll be guided to the upper parking lot that takes you to a casual trail along the lake. The lake is stunning with all the white stone around it.
From there follow the red markers for Gertude Nose. I believe it was there’d markers. Since we heard moderate on All Trails for this hike, we thought it was super easy. In the beginning, it was! The midpoint got these steps that were a bit gnarly. Then you return to this groomed path to the white rocks, be mindful of where you step! There are cracks in the rock and you could take a bad fall.
From there you’ll hit about 3ish miles. You’ll be at Gertrude nose which is stunning! Bring your snacks here to enjoy snacks with gorgeous views! My go-to trail snack to bring in a slasher bag: almonds, craisins, M&Ms - fun fact, they do melt, keep that in mind when you want chocolate chips in a mix, and shredded coconuts.
The loop out, this end is longer than the way in if you take the trailhead out to have it be a loop. You will have moments of going up and down so when you think the elevation gain is over, you’ll be wrong. Keep a close eye on trail markers till you get back to the connection to the lake.
When you reach the lake, yes your feet will be hurting, but enjoy the views of the lake! The lake is stunning against the white rock. You might even see people swimming or kayaking. From here return to your car and head to the town center of New Paltz and go to The Otter Brewery. If you were part of the non-climbers yesterday (like me) this will be the first experience of it. Oh my goodness, what an experience.
They do have indoor and outdoor seating. We sat inside since the large group had about 12 of us so it was easier getting a large booth which was great for us and the staff was amazing! They got all our drinks and order correct. I also had great recommendations for what food and drinks we should get.
Just to keep in mind, the otter is a brewery and they do have their own beers and ciders to try. I highly recommend doing a flight and trying their different options!
I hope you enjoy this New Paltz itinerary! Enjoy camping here and exploring what New Paltz and the Gunks have to offer. If you have any questions about the area please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sve these pins to remember where to camp, hike and climb:
Facts of Attractions of Warwick, New York:
New Paltz is located in New York State
Albany is the capital of New York
American currency is in American dollars and cents
The area is known for its climbing, art scene, and breweries
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