Spend a gorgeous day in Sam's Point Area of Minnewaska State Park. Minnewaska is 1 of the 180 state parks in New York. When looking up where to visit at the state park, Gertrude Nose, Mohonk House, Rainbow Falls, and Awosting falls are typically the main spots to come up. These are all around Lake Minnewaska, while Sam's Point is closer to Shawangunk Ridge. Sam's Point has its entrance. While driving to the parking lot, there will be road signs telling how close you are to the parking lot.
Coming from NYC or Northern NJ:
🍍Take I-287 N, I-87 N and NY-17 W to Roosa Gap Road in Mamakating
🍍Take exit 115 from NY-17 W
🍍 Continue on Roosa Gap Road to Cragsmoor
🍍Cox Road turns left and becomes NY-52 W
🍍Follow Cragsmoor Road and Sams Point Road
🍍 Sam's Point Area of Minnewaska State Park Preserve, 400 Sam's Point Road, Cragsmoor, NY 12420
Distance from NYC: 89.6 (~2 hours)
Distance from Albany, NY: 89.4 miles(1 hour and 46 minutes)
When to visit: All year round, preferred spring and summer
Why go: Beautiful panoramic views and ice caves
If you plan your visit between May 1 - October 1 on the weekend or a holiday, you'll need to make a reservation to hike for the AM or PM section. It costs $10 to hike at Sam's Point. On the weekend, online registration is required, and there is a $0.95 fee. I went for the AM section. The parking lot opens at 9 AM, and you must leave by 2 PM. At the parking lot, there is a visitor center with a bathroom facility and a spot to fill up your water bottle.
I went to Sam's Point with my husband at the end of June 2022. The day we went, it was 90-plus degrees out. When doing a summer hike, always check the weather and be prepared for the elements. Due to the heat, we carried extra water, a hat, Sunblock, snacks with protein, and a buff. Your hat and Buff, I recommend getting wet at the waterfall to help cool you off.
Be smarter than me and reapply the Sunblock after the ice cave, there was a section I forgot to get Sunblock on my shoulders, and the Verkeerderkill fall section of the trail is purely 95% in the sun with no coverage.
Location: Sam's Point Area of Minnewaska State Park
Distance: 7.8 miles Out & Back
Elevation gain: 1,167 feet
Difficulty: 🍍 🍍
Dogs: Yes, leashed
Address: Sam's Point Area of Minnewaska State Park Preserve, 400 Sam's Point Road, Cragsmoor, NY 12420
What conditions to expect in the summer:
🍍 Hot temperatures
🍍 Potential for rain or thunderstorms
🍍 Sun exposure - have extra water
Take loop road up to Sam's Point from the parking lot. The path is wide and accessible for a group to walk wide. However, keep in mind people coming to both ways. The path is close to a park path with a switchback that will take you to Lenape Path or continues the path to Sam's Point.
If you take the path, you'll need to. Keep left not to miss the view, or you'll continue down Loop Road. Lenape Steps, I recommend taking it. Once you take the last step, you see the fantastic view. Sam's Point has a 180-degree view of Awosting and Cragsmoor.
Going to this spot alone is 2 miles one way. If you'd like a small loop with a rewarding view for any hiking skill level, this is the trail to tackle.
Tips For This Trail:
🍍Know your limitations
🍍Expect to have no cell phone service
🍍Wear shoes with traction
🍍Have extra water
Continuing down Loop road from Sam's Point, the road will have a new road on the right to Ice Cave Road. Take the road to the right to go to the ice caves. There is also a sign directing you to the entrance of the cave. When you get to the end of the road, there will be an entrance sign for the cave's entrance. For safety purposes, there is one way to enter, and this is a one-way route.
Caution: Certain sections of the path can be pretty narrow. If you don't like small spaces, this may not be the trail for you.
The beginning of the trail has wood fencing to help protect you before entering the cave. Once going down the steps, it is slick. It was 90 degrees when I did the hike, but in the cave, I could see my breath! If you go in the fall or spring, there is s possibility of ice being on the steps. Since I went end of June and there was a heatwave going on, the steps were pretty sleek with water from the condensation.
The beginning steps are tricky. It was so slick, so there could be a build-up of people waiting while going down. From there, you may find a gap between people as you make your way out of the first cave section. Take your time! This is not a trail you'd want to breeze through.
When we first went down the steps and through this cave, I honestly thought that was all there was to the cave portion. Thankfully it was not!
Even if the cave trail were just the steps and a small trail, I would say it was amazing. What's great is, it wasn't! Get ready for the heat again after this portion. The path will have openings where you'll feel cold air coming out of the cave. It's a nice way to balance the heat.
After this path, you get to enter a cave which is just the beginning of this rough mile to a mile and a half loop. After the second cave, there is a path with a bit of water runoff from a small spring formed by the cave, so you'll walk over some planks. There is a fun overhanging rock that you'll need to step down and climb up this ladder. It is a bit more vertical than I was expecting, and since I'm short (5'2"), my husband needed to help me get over the top.
Be prepared for sections to be dark since cell phone service is limited and can quickly drain your battery. I recommend bringing a headlamp or flashlight during this portion.
The lights in the cave are motion censored. It can take a moment for them to turn on. In some spots, the censor was a little delayed, and we were standing in pitch black. The light didn't illuminate the cave outside of the path.
The last cave you come to is planked! It was so cool to walk over a bridge and a great finish to the caves. When you leave the final cave, the trail becomes a standard trail again. Make your way back to where you saw the entrance sign to the cave. Before you reach the end of the trail, there is another ladder to climb to the end of Ice Cave Road. This final ladder is angled, making it easier to climb.
When you return to the entrance, you can either go back through the caves, return to Sam's Point, or (which I recommend) continue up Ice Cave road and take the trail to the right for Verkeerderkill Falls! On your way to the ice caves, you would have passed this trail.
The trailhead is off Ice Cave road. The sign for the trail says 1.7 miles. I will say it was longer than 1.7 miles from this marker. Granted, my distance marker was coming from my FitBit, with GPS sync. I would say it was more than 2 miles one way and closer to 2.5 miles.
Hopefully, I'm not discouraging you from completing this trail. It is well worth it! Most of the trail is in direct sunlight. After completing the Ice Cave and building up a bit of sweat, it's a good time to reapply sunblock. I forgot to get a section on my shoulders, and oh my goodness, what a bad sunburn!
The whole path is single file. If you see someone coming towards you on the trail, keep an eye on an opening to step aside to let them pass. This trail is entirely different from Loop Road and Ice Cave Road. The vegetation on either side of the trail looks like something from California or the desert. However, you're not in California or the desert. You're on a mountain ridge in New York.
How beautiful is this view?! You get a panoramic view looking out to the views that get this gorgeous view of the Shawangunk Mountain Ridge. Continue on this path which can be rocky and have a decrease and some increased elevation gain till you come to a decent that turns to rocks.
You are at the top of the Verkeerderkill Falls! It can be confusing how to navigate on the trail to the falls, but it depends on the water flow. When we went, you could go over the rocks to see the falls. If it is a heavy water flow, there is a path to follow. It was a little challenging to find where the trail continued.
When my husband and I were trying to find where the trail continued, two other groups were trying to figure out the same thing, Thankfully it is a pretty popular trail, so if you're there on the weekend, you are bound to see other people who can help you find your way.
Pass the rocks on the trail as different small paths that'll take you to the edge to see the falls flowing. There are two lookouts where you can see the falls. At least when we went, the water level was okay. Some people know to see and enjoy the view, then move on. When there is such a popular view and limited spots to see, it is suggested to move along after you get the chance to see it.
There are spots around the top of the falls to sit back and enjoy a snack or lunch. Keep the time in mind. We were in the AM parking section, and we had an hour and a half left till we needed to be back to the parking lot so we could not linger for too long. Head back to the parking lot when you're ready!
What to Pack for This Trail:
🍍Water - bladder is recommended easier to carry 2.5 L
🍍First aid kit
🍍Bug Spray (April - October)
🍍Headlamp or flashlight
Facts & Attractions of Sam's Point Area of Minnewaska State Park
🍍 State Park in New York
🍍 Known as one of the sky lakes in the region, carved by glaciers from the quartz rock
🍍 Part of the Hudson Valley Region in New York
🍍 1 of the 180 state parks in New York
🍍 Sam's Point gets its name from an early European settler named Sam Gonzales. It is he jumped off the cliff while Native Americans were pursuing him.
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