New Paltz, NY: Mohonk Lake and Sky Top Tower

Trace the shoreline of Mohonk Lake before scrambling through limestone crevices to a memorial tower with views of the Shawangunks on this 3-mile lollipop.
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Trace the shoreline of Mohonk Lake before scrambling through limestone crevices to a memorial tower with views of the Shawangunks on this 3-mile lollipop.

Imagine trading every step on the trail for hand-over-hand scramble between towering crags. Now picture that doing that scramble for 45 minutes to an hour. That’s the Mohonk Mountain House’s Labyrinth, a combination of ladders and knee-scraping, unassisted climbs through gaps between mammoth rock slabs. Without question, the feature earns its name.
Hikers will know when they’re through the Labyrinth: the Shawangunks begin to appear and the trail goes over a comparatively mild boulder field. But there is one last push to the real views. A skinny split between cliff faces reveals the Crevice: a claustrophobia-inducing ladder climb to a 1,500-foot ridge.
Enduring the tight fit is worth it. Mountains, rolling hills, miles-long ridges, and farmland fill the landscape. Only the vistas from the Sky Top Tower, another hundred feet or so higher, are better.
Keep climbing to top of the stone tower, where visitors enjoy 360-degree views of the Gunks, the Mountain House’s grounds, and the mid-Hudson Valley.
When finished, follow the foot path down to Mohonk Lake and stroll around the shore for a cool-down. Wooden benches and tiny pavilions provide plenty of seating and resting opportunities. Boat rentals are also available back at the Mountain House. Close the loop there.
-Mapped by MacKenzie Ryan

From New York City: Take I-87 North toward Albany and get off at Exit 18 toward New Paltz. At 0.8 miles, turn left at Main Street/NY-299/State Route 299 West. At 1.7 miles, turn right at Springtown Road/County Route 7. At 0.5 miles, make a slight left at Mountain Rest Road/Country Route 6. Continue 0.9 miles to Mohonk Mountain House. Fee is $18.

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 3.4

Waypoints

MOH001

Location: 41.768612, -74.156215

From the Mohonk Mountain House, head southwest along Garden Road.

MOH002

Location: 41.767905, -74.157215

Go left @ Y-junction, heading toward Cope's Lookout Path and Eagle Cliff Road.

MOH003

Location: 41.767223, -74.157471

Turn left @ sign for Pine Bluff and Washington Profile.

MOH004

Location: 41.767265, -74.156703

Option: Turn right down steps and ladder to hidden lookout.

MOH005

Location: 41.767694, -74.156597

Bear right @ Y-junction behind Mohonk Mountain House.

MOH006

Location: 41.768144, -74.15587

Bear left down stairs.

MOH007

Location: 41.768137, -74.155401

Turn right onto the gravel path that climbs a ridge around Mohonk Lake. A dock with canoes for rent is on the right.

MOH008

Location: 41.76795, -74.154916

Bear right @ Y-junction, merging onto Lake Shore Road.

MOH009

Location: 41.767236, -74.154831

Turn left @ sign for the Labyrinth

MOH010

Location: 41.762965, -74.15613

After a difficult scramble through the Crevice reach an amazing vista with 180 degree views of the Shawangunks.

MOH011

Location: 41.763157, -74.15612

Turn left @ Y-junction and head towards the steps.

MOH012

Location: 41.763278, -74.156167

Turn right @ T-junction and walk uphill toward the tower on Sky Top Road.

MOH013

Location: 41.763438, -74.155668

Veer left onto one of the two singletracks that access the tower's yard.

MOH014

Location: 41.763512, -74.156147

Reach the Albert K. Smiley Memorial a stone tower that offers 360 degree views. Enter the building and climb the stairs to the top.

MOH015

Location: 41.763543, -74.156023

Reach the top of the tower, which has amazing views of the Mohonk Mountain House grounds and surrounding peaks. When finished retrace steps down the memorial and turn R onto the road.

MOH016

Location: 41.763898, -74.156202

Turn left @ sign for Sky Top Path and walk down the stairs. The sign indicates that hikers will be heading toward the Mountain House.

MOH017

Location: 41.76417, -74.156336

Continue straight @ four-way and descend the gravel path.

MOH018

Location: 41.764512, -74.156246

Reach Hayes Lookout and the option to turn left toward Thurston Rock.

MOH019

Location: 41.764302, -74.156527

Stop at Thurston Rock for a bit of privacy and great views of the surrounding mountains. When finished, retrace the way back to Sly Top Path.

MOH020

Location: 41.765238, -74.155817

Bear left @ Y-junction, heading towards the Labyrinth Spring Path and Lake Shore Road.

MOH021

Location: 41.765082, -74.156197

Turn right @ Y-junction and walk toward the Spring Path.

MOH022

Location: 41.765276, -74.156325

Turn right @ T-junction after taking connector trail to Spring Path.

MOH023

Location: 41.766059, -74.155866

Veer left @ Y-junction, merging onto Lake Shore Path.

MOH024

Location: 41.76541, -74.157141

Go straight @ the four-way, continuing left on Lake Shore Path. Look for the wooden fences and follow the trail around the lake.

MOH025

Location: 41.76389, -74.158453

Stay right @ three-way, skirting the shore.

MOH026

Location: 41.763225, -74.159458

Bear right, merging onto the Undercliff Trail. The path climbs a ridgeline above the lake and goes back toward the Mohonk Mountain House.

MOH027

Location: 41.765987, -74.158836

Stay right @ Y-junction with Lambdins Glen, which offers access to Eagle Cliff Road. Pass the beach and a dock on the right.

MOH028

Location: 41.76692, -74.157722

Bear right @ Y-junction with stairs. Continue along skinny trail next to water.

MOH029

Location: 41.766963, -74.157135

Reach bench under cliff with views of lake. When finished turn back and bear R up first set of stairs.

Mohonk Mountain House

Location: 41.768401, -74.156317

Shawangunk Panorama

Location: 41.767339, -74.157457

One of many lookout benches along the lake

Location: 41.767263, -74.156642

Paddle boating beneath the cliffs

Location: 41.767863, -74.156256

The dock

Location: 41.768115, -74.155306

The Labyrinth

Location: 41.766947, -74.154775

Entrance to the Crevice

Location: 41.763013, -74.156226

Crevice

Location: 41.762991, -74.15617

Vista after the climb out

Location: 41.762951, -74.156148

Still a little more scrambling

Location: 41.763085, -74.156162

The bridge to Sky Top Tower

Location: 41.763261, -74.156167

Sky Top Tower

Location: 41.763518, -74.156162

Summit views

Location: 41.763548, -74.155985

More summit views

Location: 41.763556, -74.156044

The house and Gunks from summit

Location: 41.7635, -74.156108

Bench on Undercliff Path

Location: 41.766943, -74.157162