8 Things to do at Lake Minnewaska State Park NY

Lake Minnewaska State Park is a very popular destination in upstate NY where you can do just about anything you can imagine that’s outdoorsy and having explored this place several times, let me share 8 of the best things to do there if and when you go.

Here are the 8 things to do at Lake Minnewaska State Park Preserve (in NY):

lake minnewaska state park preserve things to do 01

  1. Check out Awosting Falls.
  2. Hike around Lake Minnewaska.
  3. Take a boat ride around Lake Minnewaska.
  4. Swim at the lake.
  5. Enjoy picnicking around the park.
  6. Explore the many hiking trails at the park (Gertrude’s Nose).
  7. Mountain biking.
  8. Check out nearby parks to this one.

Here’s some quick info on Lake Minnewaska State Park Preserve:

It’s located about 2 hours north of NYC and is near the Hudson River Valley and is also considered to be part of the Catskill Mountain region.

There is 1 official entrance to the park with a $15 per car fee to get in and then there are 2 main parking lots available, one which will bring you to several hiking trails and closer to a waterfall called Awosting Falls, and the other will bring you near Lake Minnewaska itself (the better choice for more to see and do).

The park has many hiking trails and tons of stuff to explore which makes it perfect for a day trip. In fact, I would say that Lake Minnewaska is an awesome place to explore for day hikes near NYC and it’s something I’ve been a few times myself. I can also confidently say that this is one of the best state parks in New York I have ever been to.

Now onto the things to explore:

1) Check out Awosting Falls:

awosting falls at lake minnewaska state park 03

Awosting Falls is the main waterfall in Lake Minnewaska State Park and reaching it is actually pretty easy.

You’re going to park right by the northern parking lot and walk about 1/4 mile on the main sidewalk which leads there (it’s easy to find).

The path to walk to it is actually pretty beautiful and you’ll pass a river that flows into the waterfall too.

You’ll first reach the top of the falls, followed by which is a zigzag road that leads to it’s base. That path is only about 500 feet.

Awosting Falls is very about 60 feet high, is very beautiful and I have mentioned several times in other posts that it’s included in the top waterfalls to explore in the Catskills.

One of the first things I would highly recommend you do when you first visit this park is to check out this waterfall. Swimming is not allowed there, but at least the views are great!

2) Hike around Lake Minnewaska:

exploring lake minnewaska state park 08

A must do in my opinion if you visit this park is to hike around Lake Minnewaska and this is totally possible to do and there’s also a lot of stunning views to check out.

What you’re going to want to do is park your car in the southern parking lot (the one by Lake Minnewaska) and from there, reaching the lake is easy (it’s only a few 100 feet away).

Once you do that, you can turn left or right:

Left will take you to the eastern side of the lake and in my opinion better views of it.

Right turn will take you west which will also provide you with some awesome views.

Winter time, this lake is known to freeze completely so that might be something worth checking out. Just as well, winter time, you’ll hardly find anyone visits this park.

3) Take a swim at the main lake:

swimming at lake minnewaska state park 06

The same area where you’ll find the boat launch, you’ll also find a swimming area available as well.

Do note that the swimming here is limited to a small section (lifeguards are present) so it’s not possible to go swimming anywhere you want at Lake Minnewaska.

But if you are into swimming, then this specific spot in the park is great not just for that activity but also great views.

The swimming area is well positioned to give you a great view of the lake and the giant cliffs nearby and if you just want to sit by the swimming area and relax, this place is also great for that.

To reach this area, you’ll also have to first park your car on the southern lot, then take a right by the lake which take you downwards to the base of it (follow the red trail marker). It’s only about 200 feet from the parking lot.

This is where you’ll find the beach, boating and swimming area of the park.

4) Kayaking and boating:

kayaking at lake minnewaska state park 04

Lake Minnewaska also has a boat launch (same spot as the swimming area) where you can rent kayaks and canoes to get a different view/experience of Lake Minnewaska.

I personally have not done it yet, but you will find less people do this than those who choose to do the other activities in this park (it’s also a great way to do stuff where there’s less crowds at the park).

If you enjoy boating and nature, this is certainly one activity you’ll want to explore at Lake Minnewaska.

To reach it, you’ll also want to park your car on the southern parking lot, then work your way down to the base of the lake (where the swimming area is) and that’s where you’ll find it.

I’m not sure as to the pricing of the boats, but it shouldn’t be that expensive per person and considering the views/payoff, it’s a great activity to enjoy at this park anyway.

5) Picnics:

picnics at lake minnewaska state park 02

Scenic views and picnics are a great mix at Lake Minnewaska and there is at least 1 major area you should check out in this park that has it.

It’s located on the eastern side of the lake and there is a large field with picnic tables that overlook the lake.

Basically it’s where you see the larger cliffs that surround the lake, but behind that area.

You can easily reach that area by turning LEFT at the southern parking lot, and following the road upward.

It’s about 1/4 mile from there.

This is probably the best place to check out if you’re doing a relaxing family trip for the day.

Me personally, I’m not into picnics, but if you are, this is where you’ll find it. You can also do a lot of other things here like play catch as well.

6) Explore one of the many hiking trails at Lake Minnewaska:

lake minnewaska state park hiking trails

Not only does Lake Minnewaska have a lot of hiking trails, but there are also connecting trails to other parks available, including to places like Mohonk Preserve, it’s next door neighbor.

But if you are looking for specific hikes and trails in this park, here is what I recommend:

  • Gertrude’s Nose. It’s the most popular hike in the park and is about a 6-7 mile trip.
  • A hike around Lake Minnewaska. It’s about 1.5 miles long.
  • A hike to Lake Awosting (8 miles one way and it’s difficult).
  • Other hiking trails you can find on this map of the park (some are moderate-hard).

If you are looking for easy hikes, stick to the main one around the lake for starters. For more intermediate ones, consider Gertrude’s Nose and anything past that would be a long hike that is at least 10 or more miles.

There are no main roads to my knowledge which lead to the furthest hiking trails in Lake Minnewaska, so you will have to park in the main parking lots and then take a long walk to there (like to Lake Awosting). Here’s an official map of hiking trails at Lake Minnewaska.

The one I’ve included here is a bit more cut off, but it does show where to find the activities in the park according to the official map:

lake minnewaska state park map of things to do 03

7) Mountain biking:

mountain biking at lake minnewaska state park 04

Lake Minnewaska has this too.

In fact, there are many mountain bike trails (or should I say many miles worth) of which are both accessible to mountain bikers and hikers.

You’ll find the most popular ones around the lake area itself, but there are also trails that parallel to Gertrude’s Nose where you will find specific paths for mountain bikes specifically.

One thing to know is that while the mountain bike trails in this park are plentiful, the BEST views of this park can be found on the actual hiking (foot) trails.

That’s where you’ll find the best scenic views, overlooks and so forth.

The mountain bike trails mostly go through the woods and while that’s fun, if you enjoy scenery, the foot trails might be worth exploring over this.

One thing to consider is that you can use one of the mountain bike trails to reach the deeper (western) parts of the park such as Lake Awosting, and then hike from there.

8) Check out nearby parks to Lake Minnewaska:

This park is well positioned next to many beautiful areas that I also highly recommend exploring and here is a short list of them:

1) Mohonk Preserve. The closest place next to this park. It’s basically another Lake Minnewaska, but a bit smaller, but it has a ton of activities, hikes and things to do.

2) Sam’s Point. This park is west of Lake Minnewaska but has nice plateau hikes and caves to explore.

3) Catskill Mountains. A bit north of Lake Minnewaska is where the greater Catskill Mountains are where there’s many hikes and adventures.

9) Bonus: Make sure to check out the scenic drive outside Lake Minnewaska

The good news about this last thing to do at Lake Minneswaska State Park is that you can’t miss it. You’re going to enter this park from what is known as “Main St” and that drive itself is very beautiful.

If you’re exiting the park, I would recommend you take the opposite turn of whatever turn you used to come into the park so you can see the rest of the scenic drive. So if you came in from the right of the road to enter the park, take a left when you exit and vice versa. The good news is that either way you go, you won’t stray too far from the park and if you need to get back to the highway, just use your GPS.

This will give you some awesome overlook opportunities and even some trailhead parking opportunities to explore more stuff. I consider this drive to be one of the best scenic drives in New York State and I’ve done it several times.

Another thing I want to mention is how beautiful this region is during fall. Lake Minnewaska is one of the best places for fall foliage in New York state to see in my experience.

Should you wear hiking gear when exploring Lake Minneswaska?

Most of the “hiking” around Lake Minnewaska is very simple pathways anyone can walk on so you don’t need any hiking gear for that, but if you intend to do hikes like Gertrude’s Nose or any other “off the main area” paths, then I would recommend some gear like this:

Questions about Lake Minnewaska State Park:

How much does it cost to get into Lake Minnewaska?

It costs $15 per car to get into Lake Minnewaska.

Can you swim in Lake Minnewaska?

Yes, there is an official area near the southern parking lot of Lake Minnewaska where swimming is permitted.

How long is the walk around Lake Minnewaska?

The hike around Lake Minnewaska is about 2 miles but takes most people about 1-2 hours to complete.

Are there bears in Lake Minnewaska?

Yes there are black bears in Lake Minnewaska but very rare to see.

Have any questions or suggestions about what to see around Lake Minnewaska State Park? If so, feel free to let me know below!

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6 thoughts on “8 Things to do at Lake Minnewaska State Park NY”

  1. Hi, thanks for your nice and simple review of Minnewaska State Park. I have not been to that part of New York but it sure does look beautiful. I love visiting different waterfalls so I should put this on my list. Also, I see a large selection of biking trails that can keep you busy for the day there. Hoping to visit soon.

    Reply
    • Yeah you’ll have a lot to of trails to explore in this park for mountain biking Abbas, but in terms of waterfalls, the only major one in this park is Awosting. Other than this if you do bike there, you may want to bike all the down to Awosting Lake (not where the waterfall is though).

      Reply
  2. Good day Vitaliy! I had no idea there were so many mountain bike tracks that hikers and mountain bikers could use together in this park. I adore mountain biking, so that’s excellent. I appreciate that I can discover the most well-known ones close to the lake, but there are additional trails parallel to Gertrude’s Nose that have designated routes just for mountain bikes. Thank you for sharing this knowledge! You were a great assistance to me!

    Reply
  3. Hi, Vitaliy! I have only driven through New York once when I was younger, and it has been a place I wish to visit again soon. I love exploring and finding beautiful nature places to visit when I travel (cities and big towns can get quite hectic in my opinion). Your article was a great read and gave me some great ideas for places to visit to experience the nature-y side of NY.

    Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed the post Sarah! I’ve explored many places in this beautiful state and I have to say, it’s still a small portion of what’s truly available here. I have many articles dedicated to NY which I recommend checking out for future ideas on what to see here 🙂

      Reply

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