If heaven has a natural park I’m sure it looks a lot like Minnewaska State Park Preserve.
As an aficionado of all things scenic, it doesn’t get more beautiful than this. The ‘sky lake’ is surrounded by dramatic waterfalls, sparkling quartz rock formations and a verdant ecosystem.
We visited this past July 4th, parking in the overfill lot and hiking in with camera and bath suits swinging from our shoulders.
An average of 250,000 people visit this park annually but because of its enormity (35 miles of carriageways and 25 miles of footpaths) it doesn’t feel crowded.
The park sits inside the dramatic Shawangunk Mountain ridge better known for rock-climbing and the nearby Mohonk Preserve.
A park ranger insists that we visit Lake Awosting, the bigger of the two lakes, but it’s another 90-minute walk unless we borrow a horse or mountain bike. Trails accommodate both.
Surprisingly, the size of Minnewaska Lake is deep and long but the beach is very small. The roped-off area includes teenagers cannon-balling from the dock and families escorting their children into the shallow end.
At the southeastern end of the lake we discover a private access area for joiners of M.D.S.A.- Minnewaska Distance Swimmers Association. If you can pass a 500-yard swim test and sign a state liability form you’re welcome to swim a 200-yard buoyed line which runs parallel to the shoreline.