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October 1, 2014 / 7 Tishri, 5775
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Mohonk Mountain House And Minnewaska State Park

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Einhorn-082214-benchMohonk Mountain House is a Victorian castle resort founded by Albert and Alfred Smiley in 1869. This resort is famous for its incredible surroundings and unspoiled natural beauty. Mohonk is located on the Shawangunk Ridge in New Paltz, NY and is situated just beyond the southern border of the Catskill Mountains and on the western side of the Hudson River.

Over the years, the Smiley brothers’ ten-room inn and tavern evolved into the grand house it is today, with accommodations for 600 guests. The historic inn is nearly an eighth of a mile long with sweeping lawns and vivid, award-winning gardens. This legendary castle has hosted more than a century’s worth of distinguished guests, including five U.S. presidents.

The Smiley brothers envisioned a peaceful retreat where people could enjoy the beauty of nature in a truly spectacular setting. Their deep love of outdoor life caused them to transform the area around the hotel into an integral part of the attractions. The Smiley family is currently celebrating 145 years of “recreation and renewal in a beautiful natural setting.”

Mohonk’s Barn Museum, located in close proximity to the hotel, offers a fascinating view of life on the mountaintop from the time the resort opened. It presents antiques and artifacts that bring alive the history of the fascinating inn.

This legendary castle has hosted more than a century's worth of distinguished guests, including five U.S. presidents.

This legendary castle has hosted more than a century’s worth of distinguished guests, including five U.S. presidents.

Mohonk’s property consists of 1,325 acres and contains many meadows and gardens. It connects to the Mohonk Preserve, which is crisscrossed by 85 miles of hiking trails and carriage roads.

There are a myriad of activities and sports available on site for resort guests, including horseback riding, boating on the lake, tennis, golf, croquet, and shuffleboard. Visitors can also tour the historic barn and greenhouse, take a carriage ride, swim in the lake or relax in the pool or spa. Guests interested in working can exercise in the fitness center, hike on some of the 85-miles of trails, stroll through formal gardens, ride mountain bikes, or go rock climbing. During the winter, the activities include snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and ice-skating. There are also many group activities regularly scheduled each day.  The resort is open year-round.

If you cannot manage an overnight stay, ground passes can be purchased for a day visit at the gatehouse, and parking can be found in the adjacent lot. As parking space is limited, it is advisable to arrive early in the day. Hiking maps are provided by the gate attendant. While you are in the area, over at the other side of the Shawangunk Mountain Ridge, just a half-hour drive away, is the Minnewaska State Park, a phenomenal day trip for all.

Located in Ulster County, NY, this stunning park is set on the dramatic Shawangunk Mountain Ridge and features 21,106 acres of land that contain numerous breathtaking waterfalls, dense hardwood forests, cliffs and ledges opening to beautiful views including the nearby Catskills Mountains.

Lake Minnewaska, Lake Awosting, and Mud Pond are three sky lakes that are found within the preserve. Clear streams cut into valleys throughout the park. There are twenty-five miles of footpaths on which to bike, walk, hike or simply enjoy the spectacular views.

Amazingly, these fabulous places are just an hour-and-a-half drive from New York City and are a wonderful way to enjoy your summer vacation.

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About the Author: S. Y. Einhorn is a teacher and mother of four who lives in Monsey, NY. She does both writing and photography as a hobby. Her articles and photos of her extensive travels have been published in various magazines and newspapers.


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