Popular Shawangunks spot will require reservations this hiking season

CRAGSMOOR — Hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts will need reservations to park at a popular trailhead in Minnewaska State Park Preserve during weekends and holidays starting this spring.

Sam’s Point, a wide, rocky plateau with pitch pines and other mountain flora, is known for its 360-degree views and wild blueberries, but has become overcrowded in recent years.

Annual visitation has increased 48% since 2015, according to the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, which is implementing the pilot reservation system.

Increased visitor numbers have resulted in “severe traffic congestion, illegal parking on local roads, and negative impacts on the park’s natural resources and surrounding areas with documented erosion of trails, litter, and trampling of vegetation. “, according to the Office of Parks.

Agency Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said the pilot program “would balance responsible stewardship with our commitment to providing all New Yorkers with safe recreational access. The Sam’s Point area offers extraordinary opportunities for recreation outdoor parking and the implementation of this parking system will help ensure continued access to the site while enhancing the protection of the park’s natural resources.

Sam’s Point is the latest outdoor spot to require reservations after years of growing interest that peaked during the pandemic.

In 2017, as many as 1,000 people visited Peekamoose Blue Hole in Sullivan County daily, littering the beautiful swimming hole with thousands of pounds of trash a year. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) began requiring reservations in 2018.

In the Keene Valley, the 70-vehicle batch of the Adirondacks Mountain Reservation began requiring reservations last year to alleviate overcrowding in the High Peaks region.

And in January, a report was released by the Catskills Advisory Group recommending the DEC begin requiring reservations to combat overcrowding in Catskill Park, though it’s unclear if or when the agency will implement. the suggestion.

Reservations at the Sam’s Point lot, which will be required from the first weekend in May through the last weekend in October, will be available online and by phone through Reserve America. The entry fee is $10.95 per vehicle; Empire State Pass holders won’t have to pay the fee but will still need to make reservations.

Reservations will open in April.