Historic Steps at Minnewaska State Park Preserve Reopen – Daily Freeman
WAWARSING, NY — Historic cliffside walks have reopened at Sam’s Point in the Minnewaska State Park Preserve, officials said.
In a press release, the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Palisades Interstate Parks Commission said the Lenape Steps, located at the base of Shawangunk Ridge in the Ulster County hamlet of Cragsmoor, NY, which dates back to the 1860s, is now open.
They were built by a hotel owner into a narrow chasm so guests could reach the top of the ridge. The stairs remained a popular tourist attraction after the hotel was destroyed by fire in 1874, but had been in disrepair for many decades.
“The restoration of the Lenape Steps to their former glory represents another upgrade to one of the Hudson Valley’s premier recreational attractions,” State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said in the statement. “This now offers visitors a much safer way to reach Sam’s Point, the highest point on Shawangunk Ridge with its scenic views.”
The restoration of the stairs is the result of a three-year project by about 50 volunteers from the Jolly Rovers, a Hudson Valley group that specializes in building natural stone pathways in hard-to-reach areas.
Ulster County Manager Pat Ryan said he appreciated their work.
“From the artistry of the Lenape Steps themselves to the destination of Sam’s Point at the summit, which offers magnificent views of southern Ulster County, the Sam’s Point area of the Minnewaska National Park Reserve is a a treasure trove for Ulster County’s 180,000 residents and over three million visitors a year,” Ryan said in the statement.
The Lenape Steps are the latest project in Minnewaska to involve the Jolly Rovers, whose members also worked on the stairway that leads to the base of Stony Kill Falls and the stairway that connects Rainbow Falls to the Upper Awosting Carriage Road trailhead, as well as the stairway connecting the Mohonk Visitor Center to Undercliff Carriage Road in the West Trapps climbing area in the nearby Mohonk Reserve further north on the ridge.
The group has also been involved in several projects at Bear Mountain State Park in Rockland and Orange Counties, and Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve in Putnam, Dutchess and Counties. Westchester.
Future plans for the Jolly Rovers in Minnewaska include installing stone steps starting this spring across a scree slope on the popular Gertrude’s Nose Trail.
The Lenape Steps were originally built in the 1860s by Thomas Botsford, who later built a hotel nearby against the base of the escarpment. After the hotel was destroyed by fire in 1874, the steps remained in use, but gradually deteriorated due to water damage, freezing temperatures and thawing.
Botsford was one of the earliest examples of leisure hospitality entrepreneurs in the Shawangunk area and a contemporary of the better known Smiley Brothers, who in the 1870s developed the Mohonk Mountain House atop the ridge further north.
Sam’s Point Area is part of the 24,000-acre Minnewaska State Park Preserve. It is one of the most popular state parks in the Hudson Valley, attracting more than half a million visitors annually, according to the release.
The park features numerous waterfalls, three crystal clear sky lakes, dense hardwood forests, steep cliffs and ledges opening up to beautiful views, clear streams cut into valleys, 35 miles of motorable roads and 50 miles of trails .