Beginning above Lake Minnewaska from the picnic area, descend the red-blazed trail at the northwest corner, opposite the swimming and play area. Take the Upper Awosting Carriageway west into a mixed woodland of hemlock, maple, oak and paper birch. The wide man-made surface trail lends itself to strolling and soaking up the surrounding beauty. Quiet walkers may be treated to sights of the resident white-tailed deer or ruffed grouse. At .7 mile you'll pass an abandoned orchard decorated with inoperable mid-century farm equipment. Look closely to observe nature enjoying the land's fruits. Many songbirds, butterflies and even animals roam peacefully throughout the meadow. Small springs begin to appear along the path. Several earthen trails veer off bisecting the western circuit trail. Shortly, the fine-grade path opens to beautiful ledges dotted with fern and hardy grasses. Rainbow Falls is accessible by descending through a deep hemlock woods then negotiating a ravine. The main trail tends to flatten out after Rainbow Falls. It then curves right to circle Lake Awosting. With shores of white quartzite, conifers and hardwoods, the large lake is graced with an understory of sweet white alders, azalea and mountain laurel. A park cabin is encountered at 4 miles offering more views of the sparkling lake. At 5.25 mile, the Long Path overlaps with the Carriageway Circuit before heading off into the forest. The Carriageway meanders closer to the water saddled by beautiful old hemlocks, laurel and large outcroppings. At 6.7 miles, you'll be offered a nice overlook of Lake Awosting. On the main trail, continue on the blue-blazed carriageway leading to Hamilton and Castle Point. At 7.5 miles, bear left on the blue-blazed Castle Point Carriageway. Travel below outcroppings for views stretching to Battlement Terrace. Shortly, atop Castle Point Terrace, you'll be offered panoramic views of the rolling terrain, Lake Awosting and on clear days, stretching to Hudson Valley. As the trail gradually descends you'll be offered views of Sky Tower. After passing under a power line, the trail skirts the escarpment and back into a mixed woodland. At 10.5 miles, overlooks of Palmaghatt Kill and Hudson Valley are visible. The wide path descends traveling past the Hamilton Carriageway and opening onto a meadow with views of the Catskills. As you near Lake Minnewaska, bear left to travel past the swimming area to view the location of your beginning steps in the northwest corner.
Directions: From New Palitz, NY, Travel west on SR 299 for 7.2 miles. At the intersection of US 44 / SR 55, head west for 4.5 miles to the park entrance. The park road is very short. The trail begins at the end of the road above Lake Minnewaska.
Elevation Gain: 600 feet
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Minnewaska State Park, New York
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