|Description: Mohonk Preserve, the largest non-profit nature preserve in New York State,
covers 7,500 acres of forests, fields, streams, lakes, mountain ridges and other
unique environments. Located in the Shawangunk Mountains just a 90-minute
drive north of New York City, the preserve offers stunning views from its many
Mohonk Preserve is home to more than 1,400 plant and animal species, including
the endangered peregrine falcon; native flowers like orchids, trillium and
jack-in-the-pulpit; and 2,000 acres of rare dwarf pitch pine. Large and small
mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians all find shelter and food here.
With its scenic beauty and tremendous animal and plant diversity, it’s no wonder
The Nature Conservancy designated the Shawangunk Mountain Ridge, which
includes the Mohonk Preserve, as one of Earth’s “Last Great Places.”
Wildlife to Watch: Endangered peregrine falcons nest on the cliffs, sharing the skies above the forested
valleys with black vultures, turkey vultures and common ravens (larger
than similar-looking crows). Bald eagles and many species of hawks also pass
through the preserve on their migrations each spring and fall. Wooded areas are
key nesting sites for birds like ruffed grouse, thrushes and warblers. Saw-whet
and other owl species are sometimes heard and occasionally seen at dawn or
dusk while traveling along woodland trails.
White-tailed deer, red and eastern gray squirrels and cottontail rabbits are numerous
and commonly seen in fields and forests. Black bears, bobcats, fishers, foxes,
raccoons and porcupines are among the other notable mammal species that live
here but are infrequently observed, being less numerous, primarily nocturnal or
more wary of people.
Huge rock slabs at the bases of mountain cliffs provide perfect nesting places for
threatened timber rattlesnakes, New York’s largest venomous reptile. Turtles,
frogs and salamanders are found in forest pools and wetlands. A colorful array of
wild butterflies is attracted to the butterfly garden near the visitors center.
Special Tips: Visitors have a wide selection of routes to hike, bike, snowshoe, cross-country
ski and horseback ride on the preserve’s dozens of miles of trails, including
wheelchair-accessible carriage roads. Lookouts on the edges of steep cliffs are
perfect spots to pause and admire the gorgeous views. Trails also connect to
nearby Minnewaska State Park (see page 88 in this guide), greatly increasing
the extent of your explorations. Interpretive stations on the “sensory trail”
around the visitors center encourage you to touch, look at and listen to nature.
845-255-0919, 3197 Rte. 44/55, Gardiner, NY 12525,
Other Activities: The preserve’s visitors center holds year-round nature programs.
An award-winning program, NatureAccess, encourages people of
all abilities to enjoy the outdoors. The grounds are open from dawn
to one hour after sunset, year-round. The visitors center is free and
open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. year-round. Access to the land
is free for members. For non-members, a day pass is required.
Memberships and day passes are available at the visitors center or
trailheads. Hunting is allowed in season by permit only.
Ownership: Mohonk Preserve
Closest Town: New Palz
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: