Fall Hike In The Gunks

Before the riotous colors of fall fade away, it's time to get out and see this natural canvas that only a painter could dream about. There's certainly no dearth in the American Northeast as it is blessed with abundant state parks. Depending on location, it could be anywhere from midpoint to peak to past peak in color change. Add an eight mile hike to that objective and we've got a perfect day hike combining great colors and calorie burn. 

Trail blazes either on tree trunks or rocks

Two of my friends decided to join me on this day hike arranged by Outdoorbound. Completing our small group were two girls from Japan and a guy from Canada, all working in Manhattan. Our guide (and van driver) was Moselle who was still reminiscing her trip to the Philippines - and loving Coron much! Even though Moselle loves traveling everywhere, nothing makes her more excited than revisiting her favorite spot in New York state - in the Shawangunks (or Gunks as the locals call it), where we were hiking.

Lake Minnewaska
Mountain biking
Wildlife encounter : porcupine on the trail

The Gunks is not new to me. Two years ago, I was there on a reconnaissance trip with the owner of another adventure outfitter and hiked a good part of it to a spot called Sam's Point. This time, our group is headed on the other side of what is officially part of the Minnewaska State Park Preserve. Located in New York's Ulster County,  the park straddles the Shawangunk Mountain ridge, a geologic formation rimmed with sheer cliffs and ledges, not to mention lakes, waterfalls and miles and miles of wooded trails. It is undoubtedly one of New York's most scenic.

Fall foliage as seen from Gertrude's Nose

Travel time from Manhattan to the Gunks is less than two hours. Weather was predicted to be a mixed bag the Saturday we were there but I came prepared with a jacket and  poncho. What I did not expect was the hail - and that really freaked me out. I've never experienced hailstorm before. When these pebbly stuff fell from the sky while we were deep in the trail, my immediate concern was covering our heads. Thanks for the poncho, it became an instant shed for me and my unprepared friends. The hail fell for several minutes. If there was a consolation, at least no one got hurt.

What we did was walked an 8-mile loop using old carriageways and hiking trails with some steep ascents and descents. From Lake Minnewaska, we walked towards the viewpoint on Milbrook Mountain (part of the Mohonk Preserve) following the red-blazed path. Vegetation is quite different up in this higher elevation stretching all the way to Gertrude's Nose. The sheer drop-offs gave us superb vistas. Moselle told us not to be surprised if some rock climber will just pop-out anywhere in the ledges. The Gunks after all, is known to offer some of the best walls to climb in the US.

Almost 7 hours later, we were back in the car park. I may not be a rock climber but hiking in the Gunks, with fall foliage now in full technicolor, was happiness enough for me. The Alaska series continues next....


  1. Wow, these hiking outfitters are awesome. The idea of joining a group to explore nature even if you're by yourself is quite nifty! And I am glad you were able to capture the nice fall colors. Here, it's just been raining the whole time it kinda sucks to get out...

  2. Ang ganda!!!!!!! Nakakaiyak sa ganda!!! I could spend my whole day there singing with my guitar!

  3. Jeruen,
    Group hikes is a great way to do networking. The carbon imprint is minimal too since we drove to the trail head only in one car.
    It did rain a bit along with that unexpected hail - that's how nature works really.

    When I first visited the Gunks, I knew it'd be more beautiful to look at in the fall, kaya kahit pati ako, tuwang tuwa sa ganda.

  4. I love the first photo!

  5. Holy fall colors batman!

    I went out yesterday and drove 250 miles to leaf peep only to find that the colors were late in coming this year.

    Some day I'd arrange an autumn trip in the NE. This is a good spot. I'll keep this in mind.

    I've always wanted to go to NH I've seen fall color photos online and am so envious.

  6. breathtaking views, beautiful colors, dennis! ...astig ang shot mo on top of that cliff amidst those lush green and tangerine...
    i love that porcupine shot; priceless!

  7. RJ,
    thanks! though my knees were shaking, my hands were not - or else it would have been a blurry shot.

    Photo Cache,
    You do need to go to the Northeast to view the autumn foliage at its best. I wish I could go to Vermont or NH too!

    maraming salamat Doc! I really needed that "color therapy" & the invigorating walk in the woods!

  8. I like the hike that your group just did! I haven't hike with a group for the longest time now. I should do it again. The only problem is keeping up with the younger legs - mine has a lot of mileage already baka bumigay along the way LOL. I still do easy hikes on some weekends though, but I do it solo. Mabagal na kasi LOL.

  9. bertN,
    hahaha! it could only mean your 'vintage' legs have really worked hard in many trails. But I like how you approach this natural process (that everyone will eventually go through) by being funny all the time!

  10. i wish we had four seasons every time i see photos from other countries. but... sad thing they wont have as good beaches as we have.

    ganda ng lugar.

  11. The rock formations remind me of the Blue Mountains, I love sweeping vistas but it's always the wildlife that endears me to a place the most. I would love to see a porcupine in the wild as well :)

  12. dong ho,
    Oh yes, that's what Europe and North America doesn't have (although there are good beaches in Hawaii, Florida & the French/Italian Riviera).

    lakwatsera de primera,
    While there are plenty of birds, it's difficult to spot wildlife in the Shawangunks. I wouldn't be surprised if deers are there but I'm too leery of them due to lyme's disease.

  13. i can smell the scent of autumn through your pictures!!!
    if it isn't freezing, i would jump off to that Minnewaska lake

  14. If the lake is deep enough, yes, I can see its potential for high diving (just like in Mexico) during summer!

  15. Autumn is just gorgeous! As scary as it is, I'd love to experience hailstorm too. But yah know, while indoors. Haha!

  16. awesome fall colors! I really love fall colors, nakaka in love lagi hehehe, breathtaking views, hay kakatakot naman ang taas tapos wala pang harang

  17. awesome, bay! cool. i am on my way to NY for residency interview. maybe we can go out for coffee?

    mail me if you're free: putochiko@yahoo.com

  18. Pinay Travel Junkie,
    Now that you mentioned the weather, it was so weird we had snow in NYC yesterday. It's only October!

    It was quite a knee-shaking experience standing on the edge that I had to lie day with my head poking at some point.

    Z Joya,
    That's great. I'll shoot you an email.

  19. One of my dreams is to take photos of autumn leaves on the ground. Someday...

    good thing you had something to cover you from the hailstorm.

    may cliff jumping ba sa Lake? hehe

  20. soloflightEd,
    Even if the lake is deep enough, I don't think that's allowed - there's too much legal implications involved with accidents lalo na dahil state part ito.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...