Friday, July 3, 2009

The Shawangunk Ridge Trail

Panoramic view showing the Shawangunk Ridge from south of New Paltz

In 1989, the NY/NJ Trail Conference decided to explore an alternative route for the Long Path from Harriman State Park to the Shawangunks by using the Appalachian Trail and the Shawangunk Ridge.

The result is the 36 mile Shawangunk Ridge Trail which extends from High Point in New Jersey to Minnewaska State Park.

The Shawangunk Ridge Trail heads north from the Appalachian Trail, passing through High Point State Park and then generally follows the ridge north, occasionally using abandoned roads and rail beds.

The Shawangunk Ridge (AKA Shawangunk Mountains or "The Gunks") is a ridge of bedrock in New York that extends into the northernmost point of New Jersey to the Catskill Mountains.

The Shawangunk Ridge is the northern end of a long ridge within the Appalachian Mountains that begins in Virginia, where it is called North Mountain, and continues through Pennsylvania as the Blue Mountain.

Crossing the Delaware Water Gap, it becomes known as the Kittatinny Mountains into New Jersey, and becomes the Shawangunks at the New York state line.

The ridgetop has many public and private protected areas and is not heavily populated. In the past, it was a place of mining and logging and was once a popular site for huckleberry picking.

The name is a Dutch transliteration of the indigenous Munsee [Lenape] name "Schah-ANG-ungk" meaning "in that which is smoky air" which probably refers to fog.

Today it is well known as a major rock climbing area. The Nature Conservancy as listed it as one of the "75 Last Great Places on Earth."

Maps are available and an expanded map version of the overview seen here, and three separate blowups which will each print on an 8.5 x 11 page.

For the NJ section, use the Southern Highpoint to Graham Fire Tower map.

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