Hike to Sam's Point
New York › Loop Road, Sam's Point Preserve
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.
- Hiking boots
- Flashlight (caves)
- Warm layer (caves)
- $10 parking fee
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Spring, Summer, Autumn
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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!!!
Ice Caves Are A Must See
If you come here for the views, don't get me wrong they're great but the Ice caves are absolutely amazing! Please don't leave without checking them out. If you're brave enough to follow the caves past the trail, you find some safe, and easily navigated cavern-like places deeper into the cave system. Not many people go back that far, but with some headlamps it makes an awesome adventure!
Great look out point. The ice caves are a great chill in the summer (we hiked in August). The falls are amazing with a nice spot to have lunch and view the falls. Many options to make your hike longer with other trails in the area. Our hike totaled out over 12 miles that day.
Plenty of Attractions
The ice caves are still open in December but the park closes at 5pm in the winter. We spent about 4 hours including a brief picnic at the falls. It is possible to add a couple miles to this hike on the way back by turning right on Loop Road and following it around Lake Maratanza to return to the parking lot. This hike has plenty of attractions!
Great for Fall foliage
Perfect place for an easy walk that has big views, especially during fall. The falls can be very hit or miss depending on the recent rain fall. You do have to pay to park and it's not a very large lot so get there early and car pool!
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