Ten best things about Mohonk Mountain House

Ten best things about Mohonk Mountain House

Mohonk Mountain House

Mohonk Mountain House is located 90 miles north of New York City in the Shawengunk Mountains. Pam LeBlanc photo

I always consider a few minor scrapes a sign of a good trip, and I returned from Mohonk Mountain House in Upstate New York on Friday with a nice one on my left shin.

The “ink,” as my mountain biking buddies would describe it, came compliments of some Shawangunk Conglomerate, a type of layered rock that forms the cliffs around Mohonk, a historic old resort near New Paltz, New York. I spent four days at the lodge, perched above a glacial-carved lake, where I scrambled through boulder fields, swam in that chilly lake, and made my way through a new via ferrata.

Here are the ten best things about my stay at the resort, located 90 miles north of New York City …

The setting. Mohonk Mountain House is tucked in pine-studded hills surrounding a half-mile long lake in the Shawangunk Mountains. Think “Dirty Dancing,” only fancier. You can wander 85 miles of trails on Mohonk’s 1,200 acres, or hike into the 8,000 acres of the surrounding preserve.

Mohonk Mountain House

More than 100 “summer houses,” or sheltered benches, are scattered across the Mohonk grounds. Pam LeBlanc photo

The summerhouses. Tiny wooden shelters called summerhouses, each with benches perfectly angled so whoever sits there takes in a spectacular view, are scattered across the property. Most have names. My favorite? Thurston’s Rock, located at the end of a narrow shaded path tucked in a shady alcove high above Mohonk Lake.

Mohonk Mountain House

A new via ferrata opened in May at Mohonk Mountain House in New York. Pam LeBlanc photo

The Via Ferrata. Just this May, Mohonk unveiled a new cabled climbing route, or via ferrata. Visitors buckle into harnesses, clip to a safety cable, and use metal rungs to traverse a half-mile route – and take in spectacular, above-the-treetop views of the wilderness as they go.

Mohonk Mountain House

The Labyrinth is a rock scrambling route at Mohonk Mountain House in Upstate New York. Pam LeBlanc photo

The Labyrinth. My last morning, I got up early and ventured into the Labyrinth, one of the resort’s classic rock scrambles. I channeled my inner gecko as I scampered over boulders, waddled up chimney-shaped formations and worked my way through a narrow passage called the Lemon Squeeze to the top of a ridgeline.

The lodge itself. A rambling and slightly mismatched mashup of buildings that has been added onto over the years, Mohonk Mountain House oozes character and cozy charm. My room overlooked the lake, and had its own fireplace, balcony and clawfoot tub.

Reading nooks. Half the fun of staying at Mohonk is tiptoeing down long carpeted hallways and discovering a collection of books and reading nooks around every corner.

Mohonk Lake

Guests can paddle, row or swim in Mohonk Lake. Pam LeBlanc photo

That lake. I’m a swimmer, and can’t resist leaping into any wild body of water. I spent some time down at the tiny beach, tucked in a hidden cove, but found my bliss with a dawn swim through swirling fog with the resort’s “endurance concierge.” Look closely and you might spot salamanders like I did.

Mohonk Mountain House

Darlene Fiske makes her way across an aerial bridge on the Ledges hike. Pam LeBlanc photo

The sky bridges. One day, I joined a group on a guided trip through the Pinnacle Ledge Tour, which starts with a scramble over armchair-sized boulders and into rock cervices, progresses into a ridgeline section (with a safety cable) where you tiptoe along a dropoff, and peaks with a white-knuckle trot across a teeny tiny (and sometimes wobbly) bridge over a gorge.

Nature’s spa. Mohonk added a spa in 2005, which was recently refreshed. I dozed off to the sounds of wind in the treetops and chirping birds during a treatment at the new Lakeview Summerhouse, where you can book a massage in an open-air cabin high above the lake.

The porch. More than 600 wooden rocking chairs creak away on the Mohonk grounds, and I spent more than a few minutes gazing at the lake and sipping hot tea while rocking away on the main porch behind the Lake Lounge.


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