What type of hiker are you? At times, I feel like I want to challenge myself and hike hours until I get to my goal. Other times, and this post is about one of them, I just want to get there quickly, take in some views and relax. I wanted to get to Sam’s Point in Minnewaska State Park without killing myself. After a long summer with wedding planning, catching up with friends and getting prepared to move out, I needed something painless. Painless hiking and no pain the following day! So as I searched for where I wanted to go for Labor Day Weekend, I remembered a place that I had been trying to visit: Sam’s Point, Minnewaska State Park Preserve, New York. I had in mind a day trip, one where a group of friends and I could leave early but still catch a late dinner back home. We left Fairfield County, CT at 8:30 a.m. and arrived to the Sam’s Point parking lot at 10:30 a.m.
Parking is ten bucks all day. Unlike some preserves or parks where there is no one around to ask any questions, there is staff at Sam’s Point to help you out. I knew that Verkeerderkill Falls was going to be impossible to see. Back in late April, there was a forest fire and the trail to see the 187 ft. high waterfall is still closed. So a ranger informed me that if we wanted to see a waterfall, we could take a half and hour drive to Awosting Falls. We did just that, and the hike at Sam’s Point was so quick and easy that it allowed us to enjoy both places.
**UPDATE AS OF OCT. 2017: The trail to Verkeerderkill Falls is now open.**
Sam’s Point in Minnewaska State Park
Even before you start heading towards Loop Road, it’s a fairly easy walk. Some of it is even cement, which was surprising. It will take you about 20 minutes to get to the point. There are ledges where you can take pictures from, but the first one is not Sam’s Point. If you keep on going farther you will eventually get to a location where you can keep on going straight or make a left. If you make a left, that’s when you’ve reached it. I’m definitely not a pro hiker. Panther Mountain in the Catkills and Sleeping Giant in Connecticut are some of the hikes I’ve done, and both have been a lot more challenging than this one. That’s why it’s no surprise you will see entire families on the trail, accompanied by tiny dogs and grandparents. Luckily, we arrived fairly early, and we had Sam’s Point all to ourselves for half an hour.
For now, most of the preserve is off-limits. If you check this link out, you’ll see the trails and areas that are closed. Even though it’s a huge chunk, and one that unfortunately includes the falls, you still have much to see than you would any other place. You can go to Sam’s Point, walk to Lake Mataranza and explore the Ice Caves. Once you leave the point and starting walking towards the caves, you’ll be able to see how much damage the fire did. You’ll see charred trees and some life starting to burst out on the roots of trees. Like one of my friend’s said, it seemed like a ‘petrified’ forest, and it looks like you are passing by an alien planet. I hope the area heals soon.
The Ice Caves
When you get to this sign, don’t be afraid if you see a notice saying that the path gets more challenging. It might get a little bit more tough, but it’s nothing you won’t be able to handle.
Exploring the Ice Caves in Minnewaska State Park.
Once we headed back from the caves, instead of going straight to the parking lot, we went to check out Lake Maratanza. No swimming allowed:
We headed back to the parking lot, got into our cars and headed to Awosting Falls which was a 25-minute drive. By this time, it was about 3 p.m. and the parking lot for the falls was packed. If you have your parking pass from Minnewaska State Park Preserve just show them your receipt and you won’t have to pay twice. Once you head out towards the falls, it’s as quick as getting to Sam’s Point from the parking lot. It’ll be about 15 minutes. From pictures that I’ve seen on social media, the fall may look different day to day. Some days it may seem like a strong current and other days it is just a trickle. That day it wasn’t too strong:
It’s a nice view, granted that since it’s so easy to get there, you will see a lot of people. It’s not secluded but it does work to give you a relaxing view. Personally, I liked Kaaterskills Falls more, but that will be a separate post…
I had a fun day with my friends. It was an outing that I needed, and the views reminded me that it’s always necessary to save a day to see something beautiful.