Pine Bush, New York

Hike to Sam's Point

7.4 Miles Total - 1200 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail

Originally added by Shaun O'Neill

Stand above Verkeerderkill Falls (180 ft.), the tallest waterfall in the Shawangunk Mountains and explore the narrow crevices of Ice Caves. There's also a unique dwarf pitch pine forest. You'll have panoramic views of Shawangunk Ridge, Wallkill Valley, and more.

Located in Sam's Point Preserve, this hike has three major attractions – panoramic views from Sam's Point, mysterious and chilly Ice Caves, and a knee-weakening perch atop Verkeerderkill Falls.

Pay attention to seasonal conditions before making this trip. Spring and early summer are best for seeing the falls at its peak (the photograph above is not peak season). If you come too early in spring or too late in fall, the ice caves may not be passable. Call the visitor's center ahead of time to inquire.

From the parking lot (see note on parking below), walk around the gate onto Loop Road. When the road forks, go to the right and you will hike up a series of switchbacks through a deciduous forest.

After half a mile, you will pass by some views of exposed cliffs. If you follow the dirt road to your left, you will find yourself at Sam's Point, with even more spectacular views of Shawangunk Ridge and Wallkill Valley. Not shabby for less than a mile in!

When you've had your fill of the scenery, head back to Loop Road, then turn left. You will now enter into the park's unique dwarf pitch pine forest, underlaid with blueberry and huckleberry. At the junction in a half mile, turn right and follow signs to Ice Caves Road.

Along this route, you will also pass by a sign marking Verkeerderkill Falls Trail. If you'd prefer to visit the falls before the caves, turn here. Otherwise, remember the trailhead for later.

As you continue towards the caves, you will have views of Castle Point and Gertrude's Nose. The road eventually ends at a large, open area – the trailhead of Ice Caves Loop (0.5 miles) is marked at the back end of the clearing. Turn right onto the trail, beginning a somewhat steep descent into a rock crevice.

You will visit three crevices, in all – note that they can be quite chilly and dark. Emerging from the caves, you will have to climb a number of wooden ladders as well - something to keep in mind if you have canine companions. Follow the white blazes, and after the third cave the trail will return to the start of the loop.

Head back to the trailhead of Verkeerderkill Falls Trail next, and turn right onto the trail, marked with the aqua blazes of Long Path. This trail is mostly downhill and descends steeply as you approach the falls. At the T-intersection, turn right.

About an hour in, the trail will make a sharp left – you will have just seen a sign announcing your arrival at one of the “Earth's Last Great Places.” Instead of turning, keep right onto an unmarked path which will take you to a rock ledge overlooking the falls. Please be careful – there are no guard rails!

After you've finished at the falls, backtrack to Ice Caves Road and turn right, then left onto Loop Road, which will return to the parking area.

Parking is pretty limited here, and if you don't get a spot you may be turned away. There is also a $10 parking fee.

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Tags

Hiking
Forest
Scenic
Waterfall

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Loved it

Just did this hike last weekend. Absolutely amazing, the verkeederkill falls were beautiful. The ice cave was super awesome to check out and the dwarf pines were incredible to walk through also. Clocked 8.5 miles in the end.

almost 3 years ago

AMAZING

Did the trail for he first time and ventured to the 185 ft waterfall and also ended up finishing with the high trail! In total it was about 12 + miles but beyond worth and with amazing pictures on the ways

Ice Caves & Waterfalls

This is a great hike, and the park service did such a great job to get it all open again after the fire from late spring (16). The ice caves are incredible, and we were cold down there when we did it in the summer, so def bring warm gear...head lamp isn't necessary, but certainly makes it more convenient. Very excited to get to the falls on this go around, they were still closed last hike out. Great writeup!!!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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