Shawangunks and Quitting Smoking

Verkeederkill Falls

Verkeederkill Falls

Only 30 minutes outside of town, you’ll find yourself in the Shawangunk Mountains, or as we like to call them, “The Gunks.” If you’re not already tempted by sounds of the Gunks’ rock walls, trails, and falls, then maybe you should take a peek at #ShawangunkMountains on Instagram. After about the tenth photo, we promise that you’ll be out the door headed to the hills.

So, as a medical center, why are we so determined to get you to the mountains? Because your health is what will get you to the top of those peaks.

Our Doctor Supervised “Stop Smoking” Program Can Help

Your lungs yearn for that clean air, and when you’re passing some of the coolest rock formations in upstate New York, the last thing you should have on your mind is your breathing. Our Stop Smoking Program is designed to put you on the right track so you can achieve your travel goals without the worry of where to find the next pack of cigarettes. Not only do we target smoking with advanced medications, we provide the support you need to push past any barriers that may stand in your way. At FirstCare, understanding you and your health goals can help us help you. Discover those hidden gems high in the mountains with no excuses. Find that perfect pose without the outline of a cigarette pack in your pocket. You can do this, and we’re here to help.

Make your health a top priority — we’ll be with you every step of the way. To make an appointment with us, please give us a call at 845.691.DOCS (3627).

Minnewaska State Park

Lake Awosting at Minnewaska State Park

Lake Awosting at Minnewaska State Park

With over 22,000 acres of natural beauty, Minnewaska State Park is an outdoor enthusiast’s delight. Tucked into the Shawangunk Mountains in New York’s Ulster County, the park offers a variety of hiking trails of varying lengths and from easy to moderate difficulty, but one of the most remarkable features is the natural beauty of its waterways.


Minnewaska State Park’s lakes are sky lakes, fed only from rainwater and known for their superior clarity. Lake Minnewaska is the largest and best known of the park’s lakes. Park guests can swim in the lake, and changing facilities and restrooms are available. During the summertime a lifeguard watches while park visitors swim. Additionally, there is a boat launch for non-motorized boats, and one of the park’s most popular hiking trails winds for about two miles around the perimeter of this picturesque lake.

A roughly three-mile hike from Lake Minnewaska will bring you to Lake Awosting. Lake Awosting is larger than Lake Minnewaska and also has a designated swimming area with a lifeguard. Swimming is only permitted when lifeguards are on duty.

Pretty Lake Maratanza is just a short hike from the Sam’s Point parking area and close to ice caves and the Verkeerder Kill Falls. Swimming is not permitted at Lake Maratanza.


Minnewaska State Park is home to several spectacular waterfalls. Just a short hike from the main parking lot, Awosting Falls is one of the park’s most striking falls, with water plunging 60 feet over a rocky edge to the river below.  A hike along the Rainbow Trail will bring you to Rainbow Falls, not far from Lake Awosting. The Verkerdeer Kill Falls are located near Lake Maratanza, but are on private land so should be admired from the trail.

Check out the park’s trail map to see the different paths available. If you’re heading to the park in winter, cross-country skiing is available if there’s snow on the ground and the icy falls and ice caves are not to be missed.

Great Hikes In New Paltz

Awosting Falls

New York State’s Shawangunk Mountains provide access to what many consider some of the best hiking in the Northeastern United States. Though the surrounding Catskills boast peaks reaching over 3,500 feet, the ‘Gunks’ offer hundreds of additional hiking miles. Cliffs, rivers, and historic cabins line hiking trails that meander through the lush, rich forests of Shawangunk country. These top hikes in the area will surely keep any visitor or local busy once they lace up their hiking boots.

Mohonk’s Duck Pond

A gorgeous half-day walk brings hikers to Mohonk’s Duck Pond, where families and individuals alike can find escape from life’s daily routine. Many alternative trails break off from the main route, giving hikers options to explore the lush forest around them. The hike to the Duck Pond is particularly beautiful in the Autumn season, when the trees supply endless hues of yellow, red, and orange.

Undercliff/Overcliff Carriage Roads Loop

This easy/moderate hike brings adventurers under and over cliffs and vistas, offering spectacular views of the surrounding valley and forest. For those looking for an added thrill, many of the cliffs in the area attract rock climbers of varying skill levels. Hikers can observe these climbers as they make their way up the Mohonk Preserve cliffs.

Bonticou Crag

The vista from Bonticou Crag is one of the most beautiful places in the Hudson Valley. A challenging rock scramble leads hikers to the crag, where their reward is a surrounding view unseen by hikers on lower trails. This is a difficult hike involving steep climbs and precarious boulder-hopping, but the end product is well worth the challenge of getting there.

From ponds to forests to rocky outcroppings, the ever-changing landscape of the Shawangunk Mountains offers hiking options unlike any other in the surrounding areas. Whether hiking with a family for an afternoon or on a solo rock climbing adventure, the region has something for everyone looking to get outside in upstate New York.

Minnewaska State park and the Shawangunk Mountains

Explore the Shawangunk Mountain ridge in Ulster County, NY at Minnewaska State Park. This range extends over 2000 feet above sea level. The beautiful scenery includes waterfalls, rocky mountain views, 3 crystalline sky lakes, lush hardwood forests, and breathtaking sheer cliffs and ledges. Drive through 35 miles of carriage roads and enjoy 50 miles of footpaths to hike, walk, or bike. Believe it or not this park is located only an hour and a half from New York City. It is located on a 22,275 acre preserve near the Hudson valley.

Other activities visitors enjoy include horseback riding, snorkeling, swimming, boating, rock climbing, and cross country skiing. Minnewaska State Park Preserve: Sam’s Point Area features many events where you can venture through the park and meet fellow outdoor enthusiasts. The back area of the park has the Shingle Gully Ice Caves which can be explored on guided tours.

Bird watchers will enjoy the area as it is a major site for migratory birds. Many rare and endangered species can be found. The Nature Conservancy named Minnewaska State Park as one of the “Last Great Places”. The area is in partnership with conservation efforts. It is an excellent example of a higher elevation forest community. The unfragmented forest provides shelter for a variety of birds and has excellent biodiversity.

Minnewaska State Park offers campsites for visitors. They are tent or vehicle sites and all sites accommodate 2 tents. It provides a cooking area as well as a bathhouse. There are restrooms on site and the campground is available May-November.

If you are injured in the Shawangunk mountains FirstCare Medical Center is available to take care of you and your loved ones. Feel secure in the great outdoors knowing the kind and skilled staff are there 7 days a week near this beautiful location to help you.


Shawangunk Mountains and New Paltz Trails

Less than two hours from New York City, the Shawangunk Mountains, or the Shawangunks,  in New Paltz continue the line of the Appalachian Mountains northward to the Catskills. This scenic area boasts many hiking trails, meandering drives, and attractions sure to keep the whole family happy and active. Minnewaska State Park, the Mohonk Mountain House and Preserve, and the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail are a few of the public lands set aside and protected for the enjoyment of the natural wonders therein.

Residents of New Paltz, facing “the Gunks” on the other side of the Wallkill River, are proud to announce the opening of the Carmine Liberta Memorial Bridge, which will allow pedestrians and cyclists, along with motorists “access to the iconic view of the Shawangunk Mountains and the Mohonk Watchtower,” according to the Mid Hudson Valley Patch. The bridge is part of a project to create a beautiful waterfront area that will attract businesses and tourists.

All in all, Ulster County has a lot to offer as a weekend getaway for a busy New Yorker who wants to escape the concrete jungle to see some real rocks and trees. Autumn is an especially beautiful time to enjoy a trip to a vineyard, an easy hike, or a blood-pumping climb up a cliff.

These are great activities for the whole family, but they are not without their risks. When vacationing in a wooded area, be sure to use bug spray and protective clothing, but still perform whole body inspections for ticks, especially on children. Ticks transmit diseases, some more well-known than others, so it is important to make a note of any possible tick bites so you can inform your healthcare provider if problems arise.

What about when you have an accident? Maybe you sprained your ankle while hiking and you are wondering where to go for treatment. Emergency rooms are busy and expensive. You could hobble in behind someone requiring life-saving intervention, and therefore wait for hours to be seen by a doctor. No need to worry. First Care Walk-In Medical Center is located between New Paltz and Highland on Route 299. They specialize in adult and pediatric urgent care including x-ray and laboratory services. They accept most insurances and are open 7 days a week.

The Shawangunk Mountains are a wonderful place to visit, and you can rest assured that should any health issue arise, you will be in good hands at First Care Walk-In Medical Center.

Springtime in the Shawangunk Mountains and Mohonk, Minnewaska trails

The trails of the Shawangunk Mountains and Mohonk, Minnewaska are alive with spring. On the ridge overlooking New Paltz, greenery is spreading over the mountain which saw very little snow and signs of winter. The cross country skiing was replaced by winterlong mountain biking in the gunks. Many of the predatory birds are migrating early this year as it seems winter is coming to an early close. There may be some snow filled days coming in the end of March, but we are almost to the warm days of 2016.  Trails that are particularly nice this time of year are the upper and lower Awosting Carriage Roads. Wild flowers such as Mountain Laurel and Rhododendron start to bloom. We see flocks of wild turkeys in the early morning hours. Hikers to Minnewaska lake will often see deer with their new fawns, while bikers and hikers at the Mohonk preserve will see woodchucks, assorted ground rodents and many snakes that will be out sunbathing, especially on the trail to duck pond.

Fall in the Shawangunks and New Paltz

Fall is here in the Shawangunk Mountains and it is a beautiful start to the hiking season in the Gunks. The Hamilton Point trail at Minnewaska is now open to Mountain Bikings and the views over the Hudson Valley are spectacular. The trails are much less crowded than in the summer, and on weekdays you may see nobody else as you hike trails at Mohonk Preserve such as Bonticou Crag and Table Rocks.

One of the favorite activities for tourists and travelers to New Paltz and the Shawagunks is hawk and eagle watching. From the cliffs along Hamilton Point, Castle Point and Millbrook Mountain trails these migrating birds can be seen soaring in groups or individually, sometimes at eye level or below. Even if no predatory birds are seen, large turkey and black vultures are always soaring around and peregrine falcons make regular appearances as they speed through the air near the cliff edges. The views of the Hudson Valley are enough to lure travelers to these trails in larger numbers on the weekends.

One of the trails in the New Paltz hiking guide, A Rock With A View, takes hikers and bikers up to Lake Awosting and over the mountain ridge to VerkeederKill falls, which is close to the Ice Caves Mountain and Sams Point Preserve. It is a 15 mile round trip journey that is both breathtaking and challenging but is lightly traveled, especially in the fall.

A friend recently hiked to Giants Workshop in Mohonk Preserve and found it to be exhilarating and moderately strenuous hike. This hike goes from Split Rock, up the side of the mountain, and over a rock scramble that looks like

Ticks will likely make a showing before winter arrives, so continue to do tick checks. Fall in New Paltz is great for tourists and the weather is cooler and outdoor restaurants are the place to be for after hiking and biking in the mountains.