As a recent graduate of Wheaton College who has returned home to Pawling and now resides with his parents, I am constantly looking for new things to do in the area. By area, I generally mean an hour east or west of the Hudson River, and an hour north or south of Dutchess County.
Keeping in sync with my drive to explore new regions of New York and get out of the house a lot, I began my research into local state parks. As an avid mountain biker, I needed to go to a place where my full suspension Cannondale Jekyll would be appreciated instead of hated.
Several phone calls and one inquiry from my archival father later, I found Minnewaska State Park. Only an hour and fifteen minutes from Pawling, this park truly has it all. If you’re looking for a wide range of challenging single-track bike trails as well as easy going wide, well-groomed paths and some absolutely heavenly lake escapes, than look no further. Part of the Shawangunk Mountain Range, Minnewaska also holds several great rock climbing routes, and some of the most breathtaking views in New York State. The park is family friendly and easy to walk. Come by only for the day, as the park does not allow over night camping or fires. It opens at 9 a.m. year round and costs $8.00 to park. Some of the other aspects of the park are guided hikes and nature programs, educational programs for school groups and clubs, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, non-motorized boating, and picnicking are also permitted.
On the way home, if you still have energy, I recommend taking a stroll through the unique shops in the friendly town of New Paltz. If at the end of the day an ice-cold beer from the tap strikes your fancy, than stop in at Bacchus. This unique seafood and southwestern restaurant is home to 500 different types of beer and 14 unique microbrews on tap. A succulent rack of ribs and a chilly pint were truly the most satisfying way to end a glorious day trip to Minnewaska State Park.