Our Mission

Friends of the Shawangunks, along with our land trust, The Shawangunk Conservancy, is dedicated to protecting the Shawangunk Mountains of New York from adverse environmental impacts. Please Join Us.


Volunteers Needed for Trail Steward Program at Minnewaska

Minnewaska State Park Preserve is recruiting volunteers to help protect the fragile and stunningly beautiful landscape of Minnewaska State Park Preserve. As an increasingly popular destination for visitors, the Park Preserve is comprised of 23,000 acres of outstanding natural communities featuring picturesque Sky Lakes, waterfalls, unique plant communities, and breath taking vistas. Visitors of all abilities and ambition have access to these natural gems via an extensive network of historic carriage roads and hiking trails. Visitor numbers are increasing each year, adding stress on the natural communities and Park Preserve staff.

The goal of the Trail Steward Program is to mitigate the degradation of trails and lands by providing experienced trail users an opportunity to engage directly with inexperienced hikers about safe and responsible use of the trails. Stewards will be stationed on popular footpaths on weekends and holidays from Memorial Day to Thanksgiving.

Questions? Contact Laura Conner at laura.conner@parks.ny.gov or 845-255-0752

(Item posted July 1, 2019)

Minnewaska – Awosting Falls Connector Trail

With the completion of the park entrance reconfiguration project, the pedestrian trail project that connects the Awosting parking lot to the Awosting Falls Trail will be constructed as per the Master Plan.  Construction is 95% complete, with final site restoration remaining, and is expected to be completed by the end of June 2019.  The construction cost is $193,500.

(Item posted June 14, 2019)

Tillson Lake Dam
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has approved moving ahead to engage an engineering consultant to update the design concepts and repair estimates that would bring the dam into compliance. Staff is using the funding OPRHP has already provided for removal of the dam. This engineering work will likely take about six months and will result in more definitive and updated cost estimates for repair.  In the meantime, Staff continues to monitor the dam and remains prepared to drain the lake if weather events require.
As a result, the process of revising the Minnewaska State Park Preserve Master Plan as it pertains to Tillson Lake, as well as the State Environmental Quality Review process for removal of the dam, are currently on hold.

(Item posted February 2, 2019)   

Construction Underway at Minnewaska State Park Preserve

Visitors to Minnewaska should be aware that Phase One of construction in and around the upper parking area is underway. Parking is still available there but may be somewhat reduced. The planned completion date for the current construction is Summer 2019, at which time the following changes and improvements should be in place.

•  new parking areas and underground utilities.
•  new walkways, railings, and signage.
•  new stonework and landscaping.
•  new sewer system to serve the new Visitor Center (yet to be built)
•  new stormwater management infrastructure.

Phases Two and Three of construction are scheduled to begin in 2019 for completion in 2020. For further information and a map, go to:


(Item posted December 13, 2018)

River-to-Ridge Trail Grand Opening

The Open Space Institute (OSI) has announced the Grand Opening of the River-to-Ridge Trail on Saturday, September 8, 2018 at 10:00 AM. This will take place at the Trailhead at 41 Springtown Road, New Paltz, NY. Parking is limited so please consider car pooling. The event will celebrate the opening of the trail to Butterville Road and will take place rain or shine.
(Item posted August 29, 2018)

New OSI Acquisition Safeguards the Bashakill

The Open Space Institute (OSI) has conserved an additional 117 critical acres along the scenic Shawangunk Ridge. The newly-conserved land safeguards the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area (WMA) while serving as a critical connecting parcel for three celebrated trails in the state. A priority acquisition of the New York State Open Space Plan, the 117-acre “Kaufman” property buffers the northern part of the Bashakill WMA and its pristine freshwater wetland, the largest in southeastern New York. Kaufman also links the WMA to three large state forests — Wurtsboro Ridge, Roosa Gap and Shawangunk Ridge state forests — along the Shawangunk Ridge.

(Item posted April 13, 2018)

Tillson Lake Dam Safety of Concern

The following is from the Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC) agenda for its April 16, 2018 meeting:

Based upon engineering assessments and reviews by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Dam Safety Unit, the Tillson Lake Dam has several issues that require corrective action to ensure the long-term stability and safety of the structure, most particularly under significant rain events.

The Tillson Lake Dam is currently classified as a Class C (high hazard) structure, which is a standard rating term applied to all dams that have a certain amount of development downstream, but is not an indication of a dam’s structural integrity or safety. All Class C dams must meet a high standard of structural integrity and have the ability to safely pass water without failure under specific flood conditions.

Given the dam’s current design and condition, it no longer meets the dam safety requirements that have been established for Class C dams. Because these requirements are so stringent, the projected costs to bring this dam into compliance could be as high as seven to nine million dollars. The Commission has been unable to secure funding for the required renovation that would bring the dam into compliance. As a result, and in order to ensure the long-term safety of the downstream properties and improvements that could be threatened by a potential failure of the dam, the Commission is taking steps to design and seek approval for the removal of the dam and restoration of the lake back to a natural stream corridor.

In the coming months, Staff will be revising the Minnewaska State Park Preserve Master Plan as it pertains to Tillson Lake and proceed with the permit process for the dam removal, so as to ensure the long-term safety of those properties and improvements that would be impacted in the event the dam is compromised and to provide for the reestablishment of a natural stream corridor that is environmentally sound.
(Item posted April 3, 2018)

Minnewaska State Park Preserve – Park Transformation Initiative Update

This item is also from the PIPC agenda for its April 16, 2018 meeting.

The “Top of Hill” area of the Preserve (adjacent to Lake Minnewaska) will be transformed to construct a new visitor center and sewer treatment system and develop and reconfigure the parking areas to accommodate 350 vehicles. The project is being developed in conjunction with Open Space Institute, Inc. and New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and will be performed under three phases: Phase One, parking lots and sewer treatment plant, which is expected to go out to bid this month; Phase Two, design of the visitor center, which is 75% complete, and Phase Three, design of the remaining parking lots, which is 15% complete.
(Item posted April 3, 2018)

River to Ridge Trail Logo Unveiled

The Open Space Institute and Mohonk Preserve have unveiled the new logo and trail marker for the highly anticipated River-to-Ridge Trail. Once completed, the trail, which traverses land protected by OSI and the Preserve, will connect the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail in the Village of New Paltz to the carriage roads and footpaths of the Shawangunk Ridge.

(Item posted March 27, 2018)

Wallkill Valley Rail Trail to be Improved

The Open Space Institute and the Wallkill Valley Land Trust have announced the kick-off of improvement work along a 12-mile section of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, the recreational trail and linear park between Wallkill and Kingston. The work, along the portion of the trail between Rosendale and Kingston, will set the stage for including it in the Empire State Trail, to open in 2019. Improvements will include repairing bridges, railings and culverts; improving road crossings; and re-grading the entire 12-mile section.

(Item posted March 27, 2018)

A Reminder of a Painless Way to Support Friends

If you shop at Amazon.Com, please consider signing up for their program under which we receive 0.5% of whatever you spend there. Thank you to those already using this program, which has already benefitted Friends. To sign up, use the following easy procedure.

– go to smile.amazon.com
– bookmark the page (this bookmark becomes your new way to access Amazon)
– sign in as you usually do
– in the “Charity name or location” box enter “Shawangunk”
– click on Friends of the Shawangunks or The Shawangunk Conservancy
Go ahead and shop.

In the future, when you go to shop at Amazon via smile.amazon.com (the new bookmark) you will see that the organization you selected will receive a contribution from Amazon based on the amount of your purchase, at no cost to you.
(Item updated January 31, 2018)

Visit Us on Facebook

Thank you to those of you who have visited our Facebook page and “liked” us.
(Item posted January 31, 2018)