Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Visiting the 'Gunks...

It's that time of year again, and there's no better place to appreciate the spectacular Fall colors then a drive or hike in the Shawangunks. I've been hiking (even camping, before it was banned) up there since the early '70's, before half the world knew about it and when you could actually park your car on 44/55 without it getting towed or ticketed.

Here are two comprehensive and easy-to-read articles outlining a brief history of the area, as well as touching on the geology, biodiversity and current status of what is truly a unique ecosystem.
Formed some 420 million years ago, The Gunks have been eroded by weather and ground down by glaciers to form a unique landscape ideal for hiking, biking, skiing and climbing. Within 15 minutes of the center of New Paltz are over 200 miles of trails located in the three properties preserving The Gunks: Mohonk Mountainhouse, Mohonk Preserve and Minnewaska State Park Preserve. The trails range from wide and pleasant carriage roads to steep and challenging rock scrambles. ...The Gunks are home to numerous rare and endangered species of plants. Fox, bear, deer, porcupine, beaver, bobcat, skunks and snakes abound. And the Gunks are ideally situated on the major migratory paths of birds making them a perfect location to observe both permanent residents as well as those just passing thru. 
Read the entire article here: Hiking & Climbing the Shawangunks.

This second article is a history and current rundown of the Mohonk Preserve and the Mohonk Mountain House. These were the locations that were featured prominently in my book, Little Birdies! (sample chapters here...):
Mohonk exists today solely because of the inspiration of Alfred and Albert Smiley. The brothers purchased a parcel of land adjacent to a lake on top of the Shawangunk Ridge and created what became the most important of the great mountain resorts, Mohonk Mountain House. ... Of all the great Mountain Resorts of New York, Mohonk stood above the rest for its setting, implementation and realization of the ideal. Others, like the Catskill Mountain House, may have had more spectacular views or grander accommodations, but Mohonk was possibly the most sublime and definitely the most picturesque.
 Read the entire article here: Mohonk Preserve & Mohonk Mountain House.

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