Thanks to its geological composition and beautiful setting, the Gunks, as New York’s Shawangunk region is called, are a gold mine for outdoor pursuits. The breathtaking cliffs and rocky ridges in this climber’s paradise are composed of a substance called Shawangunk Conglomerate, a mixture of variously sized mineral particles cemented together to form one of the strongest types of rock. The 6,500-acre Mohonk Preserve, with its jagged cliffs and boulder fields, is a mecca for mountain bikers. In addition, runners train along the 12.2-mile Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, near New Paltz. The discontinued tracks, winding through quiet orchards and farmlands, once carried freight to Manhattan, nearly 90 miles away. Local Gunk lovers regularly post detailed routes, safety and training tips, and information on the latest trail closings on this useful tourist site for the prospective Gunks visitor.
New York magazine recently published a comprehensive article on where to stay, where to eat, and what to do in the Shawangunk region. The article’s author also gives insider tips on some alternative activities, such as a local trapeze club and a winery tour.
The Shawangunk Ridge Trail, completed at the end of 1996, allows hikers access to the southern portion of the ridgeline, which for the most part was previously off-limits to the public. Excellent views abound along this lightly traveled trail that connects Sam's Point Preserve in Cragsmoor, New York with High Point State Park and the stretch of Appalachian Trail in New Jersey. Take a look at the Web site below for maps as well as trail access and parking information.
Panoramic vistas can be found all along the narrow ridge of the Shawangunk range. There are many 360-degree views over the Wallkill and Rondout valleys, as well as to the north and south. The rocky ridges, replete with scrub oaks, low-growing blueberry and huckleberry, and pitch pine, offer hikers constantly changing scenery. View Shawangunk images on one of the Web's hubs on the region.