Skytop Tower Trail

Mohonk Preserve

Hudson Valley, New York

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Skytop Tower Trail


  • Mohonk Mountain House Hotel.- Skytop Tower Trail
  • Looking across Lake Mohonk from the dock.- Skytop Tower Trail
  • Trailhead by the Nordic center.- Skytop Tower Trail
  • Beginning on the trail.- Skytop Tower Trail
  • Approaching the mount rise.- Skytop Tower Trail
  • Some of the mountain is cleared for open views.- Skytop Tower Trail
  • The mountain house past the gardens.- Skytop Tower Trail
  • Trail intersection (go right to the tower).- Skytop Tower Trail
  • This trail is a cross-country ski favorite.- Skytop Tower Trail
  • The path passes hemlocks and pitch pine.- Skytop Tower Trail
  • Some white-tail deer peeking through the woods.- Skytop Tower Trail
  • A small lake and gazebo.- Skytop Tower Trail
  • Small gazebos are built throughout the preserve.- Skytop Tower Trail
  • The Hudson River Valley to the east.- Skytop Tower Trail
  • Approaching the southern point of the trail.- Skytop Tower Trail
  • The Shawangunks and Minnewaska State Park (southwest).- Skytop Tower Trail
  • Looking south from the carriage road.- Skytop Tower Trail
  • The final ascent to the tower.- Skytop Tower Trail
  • First sight of Skytop Tower.- Skytop Tower Trail
  • Snowshoeing to the summit.- Skytop Tower Trail
  • Memorial on the tower.- Skytop Tower Trail
  • Inside the first floor of the tower.- Skytop Tower Trail
  • Skytop tower lookout.- Skytop Tower Trail
  • Looking southeast to the Hudson Highlands.- Skytop Tower Trail
  • Looking down to the starting point.- Skytop Tower Trail
  • Mohonk Mountain House.- Skytop Tower Trail
  • The Catskill Mountains to the northwest.- Skytop Tower Trail
Overview + Weather
Manicured landscapes. Open vistas.
Tower lookout can be crowded.
Hudson Valley, NY
Pets allowed: 
Yes, with restrictions
Groomed trail: 
Net Elevation Gain: 
286.00 ft (87.17 m)
Parking Pass: 
General Day Use Fee
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring
Total Distance: 
4.00 mi (6.44 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
1,256.00 ft (382.83 m)
Current Local Weather:
Adventure Description

Adventure Description

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Skytop Tower is an internationally renowned landmark of the Hudson Valley. This premier destination of the 6,400-acre Monhonk Preserve is located on the Shawangunk Ridge, a section of the Appalachian Mountains, and is surrounded by over 70 miles of carriage roads and 40 miles of trails for hiking, cycling, trail running, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, rock climbing, and horseback riding. It is New York State's largest visitor- and member-supported nature preserve, with 165,000 annual visitors. The tower has open access throughout the year, and there are different types of trails that lead up to it depending on the season, your desired activity, and your threshold of adventure. Without a reservation to the Mohonk Mountain House hotel or restaurant, visitors must pay to leave their cars at the bottom lot behind the hotel, but the fee includes access to all of the Mohonk Preserve.

The Hugeunot Drive (carriage road) trailhead is near the valet drop-off and boating area. In the winter, this groomed path starts adjacent to the Nordic center where you can rent skis and snowshoes. Continue east across the flat area and up a hill that is cleared for serene views of the gardens. At the first intersection, take a right onto Sky Top Road. The path ascends the mountain and traverses hemlocks and pitch pines while passing cedar gazebo lookout points. At the small pond, keep left to continue along the southeastern mountain ledge. The tower will appear above you as you make your final winding ascent up the hill and around the reservoir.

The word "maxkwung," Lenape for "hill of bears," may be the origin of this area's name.  Early records refer to the mountain as "Moggonck" which underwent a change in spelling for aesthestic reasons.  Albert and his twin brother, Alfred, were Quakers who purchased Mohonk in 1869.  They developed the property's first boarding house that eventually evolved into the present-day Mountain House Hotel. Skytop Tower was built in 1921 and is “erected in grateful memory of a man [Albert K. Smiley] whose exalted character and useful life stand as a beautiful example to mankind.” Exactly 100 steps lead to the top, which offers exhilarating views reaching to six states.  There is the Hudson Valley and the Taconics to the east, the Trapps, Millbrook Mountain, and Minnewaska State Park to the south, the Hudson Highlands further to the south, Eagle Cliff and Overlook Mountain to the north, more of the Catskill range to the northwest, and Vermont's Green Mountains to the northeast. When you return to the bottom, continue on Skytop road until it reconnects with the trail loop near the small pond.

Together, the Mohonk Mountain House and Mohonk Preserve are a designated National Historic Landmark (1986).  Throughout its existence, the preserve has adopted an outdoor education and conservation advocacy agenda that includes land protection and environmental programs for the youth. They also maintain biological information, natural history records, and weather data, fom the station on the tower, that span more than a century.

Backcountry Safety

Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.

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(53 within a 30 mile radius)

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