Mohonk Mountain House Labyrinth and Lemon Squeeze Hike

Added by Jason Zabriskie

Historic Mountain Lodge. Sweeping views. Challenging boulder scramble to the lookout. Boat rentals. Incredible during peak fall foliage. Only 90 miles north of NYCA stone's skip away from New Paltz, an outdoorsy and artistic college town.

Mohonk Mountain House is a historic resort located just outside the Catskills in the Hudson Valley just 90 miles north of New York City. With 85 miles of winding trails throughout the Mohonk Preserve, you'll have endless hiking options upon your arrival.

Parking at the Gatehouse is limited, so be sure to arrive early, particularly on weekends and busy holidays, as the lot will fill up fast. Access to the preserve isn't cheap - it'll cost you $21-26 per adult - but this unique experience is worth the expense. Grab a trail map as the initial 2 miles can be a bit confusing without it.

Make your way the first 2 miles on the Huguenot Trail to Whitney Road to North Lookout Road to Hemlock Lane (did I mention confusing?), where you'll pop out into a meadow overlooking the expansive grounds below. Pass by the extensive gardens and head straight for the lake and entrance to the resort. Note - non-paying guests are not technically allowed in the resort itself, but once you walk into the Mountain House, nobody knows whether you’re a Day Guest or an overnight resident, so don’t feel out of place. Walk around the Hotel. Sit in the sitting rooms, read the papers, and begin to take in the historic beauty of the resort.

From here, you have the option to take an easy uphill hike to Sky Top Lookout that looms above, or test your balance on the Labyrinth - a boulder scramble that's conveniently marked with arrows on the rock to direct the way. Note that you'll want to be comfortable in tight spaces and maneuvering across large boulders - the claustrophobic need not apply.

Once you track down the start of the Labyrinth, you'll begin to scramble across and under boulders, slowly gaining elevation, before reaching the 'lemon squeeze', a narrow upward passage with a wood ladder that takes you to your final destination - Sky Top Lookout.

At the top of the lookout, soak in the views of the immediate scenery and the six other states you can see in the distance. And if you go in the fall, relish in some of the most expansive and spectacular fall foliage views you'll likely ever see.

On your way out, stop at Mohonk Lake for a relaxing boat ride before hiking the last few miles back to your car.

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Family Friendly
Picnic Area


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Overall rating: 

Fun for everyone

I love this hike. It's probably one of my favorite hikes within two or three hours from where I live. The mountain house is gorgeous and the natural 360 degree views from the tower are even better. Great scrambling...challenging but not too hard since I've seen a wide range of people complete it. Fun day for the whole family if you can pay the entrance fee for everyone. Highly suggest!

Labyrinth And Lemon Squeeze

Great scramble over boulders, through narrow crevices, up ladders, crawling through spaces. Challenging but not too hard. The last challenge is the toughest and pops you out right at the top. Great views along the way. Amazing views from the top.

Best view in the gunks, but not for the adventurous or frugal type

The view from Skytop Tower really has no parallel in the Gunks. If you are visiting the area for just one day and are looking for the perfect hike, this is the one. However, keep in mind it is expensive to visit the mountain house: $22 as of writing this. And as far as adventures go, this one might feel like it has some training wheels on. You practically drive to the mountain house, and there are signs, stairs, and usually people everywhere from the moment you arrive until you leave. However, this only applies if you are entering the resort through the main entrance by car. There are ways to hike in for a much lower cost (or even free, depending on the weekend) if you are willing and able to invest the time. I will have an adventure up soon that will explain how to do this. In the meantime, if you need information on how to do this, feel free to shoot me a message. Overall: Perfect if you don't mind the cost and want an easy stroll to beautiful views. If you are looking for more of an adventure, keep moving.

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