Saturday, January 17, 2009
Skiing at Minnewaska
When there is snow on the ground, the trails at Minnewaska State Park Preserve near New Paltz provide some of the best cross-country skiing in the northeast. Yesterday, with fresh snow and clear, cold weather, the trails and mountain views were in good form. Get there and ski while you can.
Cutbacks have reduced services at the park, so some trails are closed. Nevertheless, my two favorites were open: the route from Lake Minnewaska out the Upper Awosting Carriageway (green blaze) past Lake Awosting and Castle Point, and back to Minnewaska on the blue-blazed Castle Point Carriageway.
The big vistas and solitude of Minnewaska were rewarding as always, from the views over Lake Awosting to the forests and cliffs of the return route. Altogether, the trip of about 7.5 miles took me four hours, with a half hour stop for lunch near Castle Point.
The Upper Awosting Carriageway is a smooth and gradual ascent; the hardest stretch on it is the short ski down from the parking lot, which is within the grasp of any beginner with a good snowplow. The Castle Point trail, however, skirts near the edges of cliffs in ways that might make some beginners queasy. If in doubt, just head back on the Awosting Carriageway that you came in on.
For more information, check the official park website or the Lake Minnewaska page that gives you access to trail maps and more.