Go take a hike! Sam's Point Preserve represents one of the best examples of a ridgetop dwarf pine barrens in the world. Part of the 90,000-acre Northern Shawangunk Mountains, Sam's Point Preserve features cliffs, summits, and plateaus that form a unique landscape of extraordinary ecological significance.
Seven well-marked trails criss-cross the preserve, winding through pine barrens, ice caves and open slabs of rock, providing views of the Catskills, Gertrude's Nose and other scenic vistas.
About the Trails
Sam's Point: A short, easy hike from the entry gate, Sam's Point trail offers views of the Shawangunk Ridge stretching for miles to the southwest and northeast. On a clear day, High Point Monument, the highest point in New Jersey, can be viewed to the southwest. (.6 miles)
Loop Road: Starting and ending at the entry gate, the Loop Road takes you through several plant communities, including oak-heath woodlands, dwarf pine barrens and fern-dominated areas. Remnants of shacks left behind by nomadic blueberry pickers and Lake Maratanza can also be viewed from the Loop Road. (1.1 miles)
Indian Rock: A short, easy hike, the Indian Rock trail passes through dwarf pine barrens and emerges into an opening that offers views of the Catskill Mountains located to the north. The trail continues towards a large erratic (a large boulder left by glaciers) that offers a peaceful resting spot for those who scale to its top. (.5 miles)
High Point Carriageway: The High Point Carriageway extends from the Loop Road near lake Maratanza to the Smiley Carriageway near the Village of Ellenville. It offers an easy hike on nearly level ground through the dwarf pine barrens and is the quickest route to the High Point — a scenic overlook that offers views of the Catskill Mountains to the north and other scenic vistas in all directions. (1.3 miles)
High Point Trail: Located between High Point and the Verkeerderkill Falls trails, the High Point trail meanders through the dwarf pine barrens and hops across open slabs of Shawangunk conglomerate rock, offering views across the Verkeerderkill watershed and extensive pine barrens. (2.4 miles)
South Gully Trail: This scenic, woodland trail is part of the Long Path, connecting the Shawangunk Ridge State Forest along Route 52 with the Loop Road at Sam's Point. Expect a steady increase of elevation as you climb toward the preserve along the exquisite stream known as the South Gully. (2.6 miles)
Verkeerderkill Falls / Long Path: A favorite among most hikers, this trail leaves the Loop Road and leads to the Verkeerderkill Falls. As it meanders through open dwarf pine barrens, the trail provides views of the south facing cliffs of Gertrude's Nose, Margaret Cliff and other unique geologic features. (2.0 miles)
Ice Caves: After a modest hike from the entry gate the trail leads through the ice caves. These caves were formed along fractures in the bedrock and in a jumble of boulders or talus blocks that have fallen from the face of the cliff. Snow and cold air enters the caves through the openings at the top and is unable to escape. This refrigerated environment often preserves snow and ice into the summer. (.8 miles)
- You are entering at your own risk. Please use caution when walking near cliffs and use common sense in picking an established hiking route consistent with your capabilities.
- Timber rattlesnakes, though rare in New York State, can be found in the preserve. Please use caution when hiking and watch where you put your hands and feet, especially around rocks. If bitten, stay calm and seek medical attention immediately. Remember, the timber rattlesnake is a protected species; it is illegal to take, harass, or harm a timber rattlesnake.
- Please do not feed or handle the wildlife.
- Be prepared for sudden changes in weather. In spring and fall, it can get cold quickly in the afternoon, and thunderstorms may appear suddenly any time of year. The ridgetop offers very little shade and is very hot in the summer.
- Be very careful with matches, lighters, cigarettes, etc. Absolutely no open fires or barbecuing is permitted. Exposed to sun and wind, the soil and vegetation of the ridgetop dries out quickly, making the area highly susceptible to wildfires. While the plants and animals on the ridge are adapted to and benefit from occasional wildfires, these conditions can pose serious threats to human life and property.
- Hunting is permitted on the preserve ONLY with written permission from The Nature Conservancy. For more information about hunting on the preserve, please contact the Conservancy at (845) 647-7989. To maintain cooperative relationships among various preserve users, visitors are instructed to stay on designated trails and hunters should avoid public use areas (e.g. trails, buildings, etc). Hunting is a traditional use of the area and can help control populations of animals, such as deer, that can impact natural communities by over-browsing.
- Recommended items to bring when hiking Sam's Point Preserve: plenty of water, extra clothing, food, sunscreen, sunglasses, rain gear, map, compass, comfortable hiking boots, day pack, camera.