Sandy beach
Cliff jumping
Hike-in Required
Sensitive Habitat
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Lake Awosting is a beautiful and remote swimming destination in the Minnewaska State Park Preserve at the heart of the Shawangunk Mountains. This water body is approximately 1.5-miles long and 0.5-miles wide. It has a unique, flat rock slab beach that gradually descends into the water. The lake is staffed between 11:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. during the summer season, and swimming is not permitted outside of these hours when lifeguards are not on duty. There is a large roped-off swimming area that extends out to a water depth of 10 feet, 1 inch. (Smoking near the swimming area is prohibited.)

A series of carriageways lead to Lake Awosting from the park entrance overlooking Lake Minnewaska. While people do walk to Lake Awosting, many choose to rider their bike up the trail or cross-country ski there in the winter. The Upper Awosting (UA) Trail is the most direct carriage road to the lake. This trail is 3.1 miles long and ends at a beautiful vista overlooking the length of the entire lake. You must continue about another half-mile along the Lake Awosting (LC) Trail to reach the beach. Upon your return to the park entrance, you may find delight in taking the 4.6-mile Castle Point (CP) Trail or 2.9-mile Hamilton Point (HP) Trail, which explores amazing cliff edges with views that stretch over the entire Hudson Valley to the east and to the south.

This white quartzite conglomerate geology is a characteristic of the region that causes a natural acidity of the water, which registers an approximate pH level of 4.5. The bedrock does not buffer the lake from the acidity of rainwater, and the result is a unique ecology. Therefore, aquatic life is minimal, and it is and probably always has been a fishless lake. 

Lake Awosting is one of three Sky Lakes in the preserve: The other two are Lake Minnewaska and Mud Pond. This site was originally home to a yoga camp in the 1960s. In 1967, Mid-Atlantic Music Camp came to the area, and a beach was created at its present site the following year. In 1969, the Awosting Park, originally consisting of about 5,000-acres, officially opened and permitted tent camping as well as self-contained camper trailers.

Only a few organisms are present, such as the Freshwater Leech (Helobdella modesta), which is found in many fresh water bodies throughout North America. It is not a bloodsucker, so it is non-parasitic and poses no health risk. There are a number of water fowl that inhabit the area, but please do not feed them as the results can cause unnatural behavior, pollution, overcrowding, delayed migration, poor nutrition, and disease.  The two-lined salamander also makes its home here and lays its eggs in the water without guarding them. This non-protective behavior is not observed in any other habitat and is probably due to the lack of predator fish and other water life. This activity may lead the way of the evolution of a unique species only existent in the Shawangunks.

Minewaska State Park Preserve:

The entire Minnewaska State Park Preserve spans 22,275-acres and offers fantastic opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, boating, picnicking, swimming, cross-country skiing, and trail running. Located on the Shawangunk Ridge in Ulster County, New York, this rocky terrain rises more the 2,000 feet above sea level and hosts 25 miles of footpaths and 35 miles of carriage roads for all levels of skill and enjoyment. It is one of the most popular outdoor destinations in the region, only about a 90-minute drive from New York City, and it hosts approximately 250,000 visitors each year.

The park preserve opens daily at 9:00 a.m., and closing times vary with sunset throughout the year. The entrance is off of Route 44/55, and admission is $10 per vehicle. Seniors over 62 are free on weekdays with a valid New York State ID. There is a parking area at the base of the mountain, near the main gate, with access to the Lower Awosting Carriage Road and the nearby Awosting Falls. You can also drive to the upper parking lot for easy access to Lake Minnewaska, a picnic area, and many more of the Preserve’s footpaths and Carriage Roads. There is a map to help you plan your adventure and navigate the park. Dogs are permitted, and they must be on a leash not more than 6 feet in length. They are NOT permitted on the cross-country ski trails when the trails are groomed.

Logistics + Planning

Parking Pass

State Park Fee


Clear water. Lifeguard on duty. Scenic area.


Rocky and rough beach.


Family friendly
Flushing toilets



DIRECTIONS ARE WRONG! We followed their GPS coordinates and it took us to the wrong place, where someone posted a sign saying it wasn’t a Lake Awosting entrance. You want to find the visitor center for Lake Minnewaska.
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