Lots of hikes in the Hudson Valley offer scenic views. But this particular loop, which is part of the 8,000-acre Mohonk Preserve, is special for the natural eye candy throughout and its accessibility. Being located near two beloved, longstanding dining spots for a post-hike reward doesn’t hurt.
Iconic and well-traveled, the 4.7-mile Undercliff Carriage Road to Overcliff Carriage Road loop, located in the Shawangunk Mountain Range in Gardiner, is a year-round destination for every flavor of outdoor enthusiast: runners, hikers, bikers, snowshoers, cross-country skiers, boulderers and rock climbers.
The oval circuit is by far one of the most popular treks for Preserve members and visitors alike. The carriage road trails are wide enough to accommodate its many visitors, and aside from a half-mile section where climbers congregate in the summer and fall, it rarely ever feels crowded.
The views also make this trek a memorable one. With ample parking at the West Trapps trailhead, located just past the hairpin turn on Route 44, the loop is flanked by stunning views of the Catskill Mountain Range on the western side (via Overcliff) and the Hudson River Valley to the East (along Undercliff).
Along Undercliff, travelers can even get a few postage-stamp-sized frames of the historic Sky Top Tower, perched on top of the Gunks, especially when all the leaves have fallen.
Within those five miles there is so much natural and cultural history that it’s hard not to stop and take a deep, piney breadth.
Scenic by design
Undercliff Carriage Road was built in 1907 by the Smiley family, owners of the Mohonk Mountain House and the originators of the Mohonk Land Trust (now known as the Preserve). The road is 2.3 miles long from Trapps Bridge to where it connects with its twin sister, the 2.4-mile Overcliff Carriage Road, which was built about 100 years ago. The construction of the twin roads required skilled stone cutters, blasters, and heavy labor, and together were viewed as engineering feats at the turn of the 20th century.
The trails yield stunning views of the Catskills to the west and the Hudson Valley to the east.