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The first time I saw that sign, I thought, “That’s a bit of overstatement, don’t you think?
” Then I took a few more steps, out onto the Wiley-Coyote-style cliff that seems to exist solely to give you the best possible view of the falls, and I understood that it wasn’t an overstatement at all.
No word on whether Sam deserved to get caught or not, but it’s a good story, anyway. The bushes rise up on either side, and you won’t be able to see much to your right or left.
I like to save Sam’s Point for last, as a grand finale before heading back to the car, but there’s no reason you couldn’t scope it out now if you just can’t stand to wait – it’s just a short walk over there. You’re looking for your first right turn, on the road that heads downhill towards the falls and the ice caves.
Scenery: Difficulty: 6 out of 10 (but you could make it a 9 if you tried to do everything) Highlights: Awesome waterfall with clifftop vantage point, dwarf pine preserve, lake, ice caves, panoramic views Distance: 5 miles, up-and-back (or 7.5 miles if you try to do everything) Approximate roundtrip time: 3 hours (or a solid 4-5 hours if you try to do everything) This hike is for you if: You want to visit what very well might be the coolest natural place in the Hudson Valley. Background you can feel free to skip: As you approach Verkeerderkill Falls at Sam’s Point, a sign reminds you that you are visiting one of the Earth’s Last Great Places.
If the water is very, very high, you’ll have to follow it upstream for a while to find a crossing (this has only happened to me once, after some serious, serious rain). About the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen a human being do was back in 2001, when my friend Chunks ventured onto the rocks on top of the falls to get a cool picture for his online dating profile.
Due to a wildfire that recently tore through the park, the falls trail detailed below is closed until further notice (perhaps re-opening in mid-late 2017).
Some areas of the park are now open, including the ice caves (weather permitting – they are closed in the winter and generally re-open in May). (And thank you, Thomas O’Brien, for the heads-up on this site’s Facebook page.) Looks like the area still has a lot of healing to do, but it’s wonderful news that it’s healthy enough to handle visitors again. The Minnewaska State Park Preserve has a nice trail map available from its official NYS Parks Sam’s Point page.
**UPDATE October 2014** This place is not a well-kept secret. They only allow 7 holding spots to wait for a parking spot. (The parking fee must be paid on all holidays.) The free access applies as long as at least one NYS resident age 62 or older is in the car.
In response to a Facebook post with nice pictures of Sam’s Point, some friendly hikers dropped a couple of good tips about parking at Sam’s Point: “you should note in your trail guide that there is very limited parking at Sam’s Point and once the lot reaches its capacity, they turn away hikers. If you don’t get there early on weekends, you’re very likely to be turned away! The NYS Empire Pass would also be accepted at the parking lot.” Thanks, Salley!