The Trapps in the Mohonk Preserve
Mountain Climbing at Mohonk Preserve
Mohonk Preserve is New York State’s largest visitor- and member-supported nature preserve with 165,000 annual visitors and 8,000 protected acres of cliffs, forests, fields, ponds and streams. It is located on the Shawangunk Ridge, a section of the Appalachian Mountains, 90 miles (140 km) north of New York City in Ulster County, New York, USA. The Preserve maintains over 70 mi (110 km) of carriage roads and 40 mi (64 km) of trails for hiking, cycling, trail running, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and horseback riding. It is also a major destination for rock climbers, hosting 50,000 climbers each year who enjoy more than 1,000 climbing routes.
The origins of the preserve date to 1869 when twin brothers Albert and Alfred Smiley purchased Lake Mohonk and established the Mohonk Mountain House. On Feb. 26, 1963, the Smiley family, friends, neighbors and supporters formed The Mohonk Trust to protect the area’s unique natural landscape for future generations. The “property” of The Mohonk Trust on that day in 1963 consisted of $100, a gift from Mabel Craven Smiley. Land was acquired by the Mohonk Trust over the years, and it became the Mohonk Preserve Inc. in 1978. According to their 2012 IRS Form 990 their assets today exceed $20 Million. Through the support of members, donors and partners, the preserve has become a center for outdoor education and a conservation advocate, especially for natural lands in the Shawangunks and the Hudson River Valley. Its mission includes land protection and stewardship, sponsorship of environmental education programs which according to Preserve officials have served more than 100,000 children over a thirty year period, and maintenance of biological, weather, and natural history records spanning more than a century.
In 1986, Mohonk Preserve and Mohonk Mountain House together were designated a National Historic Landmark.
The name “Moggonck” appeared in early boundary records referring to the “high hill,” the crag now named Skytop where the Smiley Tower is located. The spelling change from ggto h was probably done for aesthetic reasons. The word Moggonck was possibly derived from the Lenape maxkwung, ‘place of bears,’ or from the Munsee maxkawenge, ‘hill of bears.’
Bonticou Crag in the Mohonk Preserve
Headquarters of the not-for-profit Mohonk Preserve are in Gardiner, New York. Most of the land is in the town of Gardiner, but there is also land in the towns of Marbletown, Rosendale, New Paltz, and Rochester. Preserve lands extend for nearly eight miles from Rosendale to Millbrook Mountain. More than 75% of its funding comes from contributions, memberships and investments. Grants from land conservation organizations, including some from the New York State Conservation Partnership Program, and funds from the state’s Environmental Protection Fund amount to 23% of income. It was the first land trust established on the northernShawangunk Ridge. The Preserve’s mission is to protect the Shawangunk Mountains by inspiring people to care for, enjoy, and explore the natural world. To accomplish its mission, the Preserve conducts programs in four key areas – environmental education, serving both school children and adults; land protection, saving high-priority land on the ridge; land stewardship, balancing the protection of land and wildlife with opportunities for recreation; and scientific research, creating a “living laboratory” on the land. The land is home to more than 1,400 plant and animal species, including the peregrine falcon and 2,000 acres of rare dwarf pitch pine. Restricted deer hunting is allowed with the aim of preventing ecological damage due to overbrowsing. There is a day fee of $12 for hiking and $17 for cycling and rock climbing. Annual memberships are available. Free one month memberships were offered to Ulster County residents in the spring and again in the fall of 2014. Hours of operation are from sunrise to one hour past sunset.
Minnewaska State Park Preserve adjoins the Preserve lands to the south, and protects another 12,000 acres (49 km2) of former property of another member of the Smiley family as a state park.
Mohonk Mountain House
The Mohonk Mountain House, also known as Lake Mohonk Mountain House, is a historic American resorthotel located on the Shawangunk Ridge in Ulster County, New York. Its prominent location in the town ofNew Paltz, New York is just beyond the southern border of the Catskill Mountains on the western side of theHudson River. Mohonk Mountain House is a member ofHistoric Hotels of America, the official program of theNational Trust for Historic Preservation.
The National Historic Landmark Program’s “Statement of Significance”, as of the site’s historic landmark designation on June 24, 1986, states:
Begun in the 1870s as a small resort for family and friends by the Smiley brothers, it became so popular that it was enlarged many times. Because of the Smiley’s love of the outdoor life, the area around the hotel was treated as an integral part of the attractions of the resort. Much of this area was planned as an experiment in conservation of the natural environment, and as an educational tool for the study of botany, geology, and outdoor living.