The Labyrinth trail at Mohonk Preserve is one of the coolest hikes I’ve ever done in New York (multiple times) and if you’ve heard of it or are making plans to check it out, I want to show you what to expect from it in this post by giving you a beginner/first time visitor guide on it.
This hike is very scenic, extremely fun in my opinion but depending on the hiker can also be challenging and possibly a little scary in parts. This guide will show you all the details on the Labyrinth trail and how to navigate it correctly.
Quick info on the Labyrinth Trail:
- Name: The Labyrinth trail.
- Location: Mohonk Mountain House (Shawangunk Mountains).
- Distance: 1.5 mile loop trail (but you first have to hike to the trailhead which is another 3 miles).
- Difficulty: Moderate.
- Rating: 5 out of 5.
- Recommended? Yes! This is one of the most highly rated trails in New York and I personally never get tired of hiking here. While it is challenging and there are many scrambles to go through, this is in my opinion a top 5 hike in New York.
Important things to know before you hike the Labyrinth trail:
- To access the Labyrinth trail you will first need to get to Mohonk Mountain Gate House entrance.
- There is a $35 per person fee to enter and park your car Mohonk Mountain Gate House.
- You will then hike 1.5 miles to Mohonk Mountain House. The Labyrinth Trail is 0.1 miles from that area.
- The Labyrinth trail is a 1 way trail (starts inside the Labyrinth and work your way up to what is known as the Skytop Tower).
- There is a section towards the end of the trail known as the Lemon Squeeze which may not be for everyone.
- After you reach Skytop Tower, you will take an easy trail back to Mohonk Mountain House to finish the loop.
Here’s a map of the Labyrinth loop trail (plus the extra hike to reach it):
Things to know about this map:
- You’ll start on the red trail (from the Gatehouse to Mohonk Mountain House).
- You’ll then take the short yellow trail to reach the Labyrinth Trailhead.
- You’ll then take the blue trail through the entire Labyrinth.
- You will exit to the Skytop Tower and go back on the Purple trail. That completes the Labyrinth loop.
- If you can’t do the last part of the Labyrinth (the Lemon Squeezer), then you can take the green trail back to Mohonk Mountain house right before the Lemon Squeezer begins.
Note: Use this map alongside the instructions I’ll provide below on how to hike the Labyrinth trail. Also know that these are NOT official trail colors! I am simply distinguishing how to tell where to go and am using the map and different colors. You can also pick up a map of Mohonk Preserve at the Gatehouse or download them on Alltrails.
Starting out (hiking to the Labyrinth trailhead):
Remember before you do the Labyrinth hike, you first have to reach it. The way to do that is to set your GPS to go to the Mohonk Mountain Gate House. You can get tickets for this area online but once you reach it and show your ticket, you’ll park your car next to the gate. You will then hike about 1.5 miles to reach Mohonk Mountain House (the map above shows the fastest trail to reach it).
Reaching the official Labyrinth trailhead:
Once you reach Mohonk Mountain Mountain House, you will follow the lake road south for 0.1 miles and that will take you to a canyon wall where you will see a sign for the Labyrinth (that’s the entrance). Before you start this hike, keep in mind a few things:
- There are a lot of scrambles on this hike.
- It’s very slippery in the first section of the trail (hiking shoes like the Salomon Speedcross 5 will help, but they are not a guarantee).
- I would not recommend doing this hike if you have joint or health issues.
- Do not bring trekking poles to this hike (there’s too much scrambling and climbing here and they’ll get in the way).
Starting on the trail (slot canyons and ladders):
In the first part of the hike you will enter the Labyrinth trail and immediately get to tight rock scrambling and caving in parts. There are red arrows you will follow as a trail marker throughout the entire trail to ensure you don’t get lost and it’s very important to do that especially in section 1 of the hike because it’s very easy to hike/crawl/climb into the wrong part of the trail and then have trouble getting out.
By following the red arrows you will ensure you stay on the right trail. You will also have numerous ladder areas on this section of the hike to help you in the toughest parts:
Continuing to the second part of the Labyrinth trail (boulder hopping):
The slot canyon section of the Labyrinth hike is not that long and once it ends, the next stage of the hike begins and it’s going to be much more mellow. There will be some boulder scrambling in parts but it won’t be as difficult or tight as before. You will basically just be hiking along the trail next to the canyon walls to your left. The length of this section of the hike is about 1/4 miles but you will be going at a slow pace due to the scrambling elements.
Finishing up with the third part of the Labyrinth trail (the Lemon Squeezer):
The Lemon Squeezer is basically a nickname for a tight squeeze through a canyon you will have to do. As you approach this area, you will need to stay closer to the canyon walls so you don’t miss it (I did the first time I hiked here). You will barely be able to see a ladder inside the canyon from a distance, but that’s where you’re going to have to go:
Once you start climbing up that ladder you will enter the final slot canyon area of the Labyrinth trail and there are actually 2 ladder sections here. The first ladder section is where the Lemon Squeeze starts as it will be pretty tight. If you are claustrophobic or scared of this, then you can actually turn right before you enter this area and hike down to a road, turn right and head back to the Mohonk Mountain House that way (map above shows this optional trail).
Once you finish the first ladder walk, you will enter a very tight slot canyon which is actually pretty flat, but then shortly after walking through it will then have to climb another, longer ladder which then turns into a scramble to exit out of the slot canyon. Here’s a few photos from that area:
When you get out of the slot canyon “cave” area, this is when you’re done with the Labyrinth trail. You will then see incredible views of Mohonk Preserve like this:
Tips for hiking through the Lemon Squeezer successfully:
- Stay close to the ladder when hiking (you’ll hit less rock walls).
- You can ask for help and many do that on this trail (you will likely have other hikers next to you).
- Remember you can always elect to not go through this part, but I recommend trying it as the experience is awesome!
Reaching Skytop Tower and returning to Mohonk Mountain House:
At the overlook area from the previous photo, you will then walk past a bridge that goes over the slot canyon of the Labyrinth. You will then walk up the following trail to reach the famous Skytop Tower which you can also check out, including the surrounding area.
From there you will follow the short, zig zag trail back to Mohonk Mountain House to finish the loop. That will be around 3/4 miles long. Just remember that from there you will need to also hike back on the original hike you did back to the Gate House to fully finish up (which is another 1.5 miles after you reach Mohonk Mountain House).
Other questions about the Labyinth hike:
How long is the Labyrinth and Lemon Squeeze hike?
The Labyrinth and Lemon Squeeze hike together are a little over 1 mile long.
How long does it take to hike Lemon Squeeze?
Most people finish the Lemon Squeeze in about 15-20 minutes.
How hard is Lemon squeeze?
The Lemon Squeeze section of the Labyrinth trail is challenging for many people because it has tight slot canyon areas to hike through but most people are able to complete it fine.
Is Lemon Squeeze hike dog friendly?
No you should not do the Lemon Squeeze hike with a dog because there are ladders and extremely difficult areas for them to go through.