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.