I’ve visited Mohonk Preserve twice and would like to share 5 cool things to do there as well as things to keep in mind before you go, such as how to prepare for it.
The first time I visited it, was with my mother when I was around 16 years old and just yesterday, 16 years later, I revisited it with my friends and some things have changed that first time goers should be aware of before they go.
This is a very beautiful area, with A LOT of different activities you can do, 5 of which I’ll share with you that are probably the most popular.
Here is just one of the many beautiful things to see here:
This is one of the most popular viewpoints in the area and you can get there pretty easily with a simple hike, or elect to take a much more fun, but difficult path known as the Labyrinth hike which I’ll talk about later.
You will also notice a large mountain range behind the hotel. These are the Catskills which I visit pretty often (see the link I just entered to find out what there is to do in the Catskills too).
Where is Mohonk Mountain Preserve?
Mohonk is located about 2 hours north of NYC, right in this area:
To get here, what we had to go was take Interstate 87, get off exit 18, head to the parking lot to the preserve. The first time I went there, a shuttle was available to take people from the parking lot to the hotel and the main scenic spots in this location.
However, the other day that I visited it with my friends, we found out the shuttle service was discontinued (for over 3 years!) and we instead had to walk 1-2 miles to reach the area. This honestly is my only complaint about this location, but other than that, everything else is very enjoyable.
So my warning before you go is to EXPECT there to be no shuttle service so if you have health issues, and can’t walk 1-2 miles, don’t go here unless you reserve a room at the hotel, which grants you permission to drive up to the hotel from the parking lot.
But anyway, here are the 5 activities I recommend you do while there:
5) Horseback riding.
You will see a large stable right before you walk up to the Mohonk Mountain House (the hotel). When we went there, I believe you could only go if you made reservations, but the horseback riding option for this beautiful area is highly recommended.
4) Enjoy boat rides on the lake.
The lake is right by the hotel and you have access to rent kayaks, and canoes. The lake itself is pretty small, but the area surrounding the lake, that being the hotel, the mountains, and overall the scenic views really make this enjoyable! We didn’t have time to rent a kayak, so we just took a look at the scenery and said we’d do it next time:
3) The hotel.
Pretty much anyone who visits the Preserve and decides to stay overnight will do so at the Mountain House I mentioned. It’s a very old, and very historic hotel which looks amazing and we did explore it.
This hotel also has a lot of things you can explore like a spa and beautiful balconies leading out to the lake. And honestly, exploring the areas next to it is also worth trying. There are beautiful gardens, bridges and scenic views from it.
2) The Labyrinth hike. Do it if you enjoy hiking!
The first time I visited this place, one of the main reasons I went to this location was to explore new hiking trails and while visiting the hotel, we were told that there were 2 main hikes people took while visiting this place.
One was a regular uphill walk to a “Skytop Tower” while another was called the Labyrinth which was parallel to that trail, and led to the same Sky Tower, but was a much harder, and more fun hike.
Both of them would provide a very scenic overlook of the hotel, as well as the greater Mohonk Preserve area.
Being that I love challenging hikes and my mother doesn’t (the first time I went) I elected to try the Labyrinth, while my mother went on the other hike.
We agreed to meet at the Skytop Tower.
I’ll say this much:
The Labyrinth was a VERY fun hike, especially in the beginning and I found myself climbing through caves, up ladders and even using both my hands and feet to scale up certain areas. It is A LOT of fun.
Now the problem is that the directions I was told to follow while there, actually led me into a completely different area, away from the Skytop tower where I was supposed to meet my mother and because I wasted so much time going in the wrong direction, I didn’t get a chance to see the Skytop Tower (she did).
Luckily both our cell phones were working so I was able to tell her the situation.
If you’re wondering how it’s possible to get lost on a parallel trail, I’ll tell you:
I was told to follow the red line markings in the rocks on the labyrinth trail and I did just that. Throughout my hike, I was walking past other hikers who said I was close to the tower, but then, the red lines took a turn AWAY from the labyrinth, but being that I didn’t see any other lines, I followed those and they led me into a forest.
This trail was probably an entrance from another point in the forest that I took and it led me to a road where I actually ran into other hikers who also got lost and were led into the same road.
Eventually, I figured it would take me too much time to get back and decided to just backtrack. The red X you see on the map to the right is where I finally stopped and turned back.
Also, one thing I didn’t really like was how horrible the map of Mohonk Preserve was drawn. It was very tough to figure out where I was, so the only way I could safely get back was to just hike back through the Labyrinth again.
So if you decide to do this trail too, don’t let the red lines which obviously lead away from the path, lead you into it. Stick as close as possible to the trail, and it will take you out to the Skytop Tower.
Luckily the second time I did this hike, I got it right (it wasn’t difficult), and the beginning and end of this short, but challenging hike are totally worth it. You WILL be challenged:
1) Skytop Tower.
This is probably one of the most popular scenic overlooks in the entire Preserve as it’s located at the top of the Mohonk Mountain. You can see the hotel, and areas beyond the Preserve too, although I did also see many of these areas, while I was in the Labyrinth.
Like I said, the first time I visited, my mother did reach this location and she said it did look nice, but she didn’t stick around for long, and we eventually met back at the bottom of the trail, where we originally split up.
But thankfully my second trip had my friend and I who did the Labyrinth hike again, reach it.
Overall, our one day trip to Mohonk Preserve lasted for about 7 hours and we left, heading home, but not before visiting other locations not far from it. It was enjoyable, but for me personally, I enjoyed other areas away from Mohonk. I’ve had several opportunities to go there again throughout the years afterwards, but always ended up passing it and going to places like Widow Jane Mine and the Catskills.
I don’t think Mohonk Preserve is boring, and the 5 activities I listed are fun, but I just prefer bigger areas with more things to see. I’m pretty sure many people will enjoy this area a lot more than I did, especially if they do these 5 things 🙂