Last week, Railguy and I enjoyed a few days of vacation. We began our little excursion with a drive south from Ontario to New Paltz, New York, to visit Mohonk Mountain House. This historic resort was built by Quaker twin brothers Albert and Alfred Smiley between 1879 and 1910. It is located on the Shawangunk Ridge in Ulster county, on the shore of Lake Mohonk. The resort has hosted many famous guests over the years including John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and American presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Rutherford B. Hayes, and Chester Arthur.
Day visitors can enjoy the garden, including the interesting annual beds, pictured above, as seen from the garden lookout tower. You can also visit the small cedar maze and enclosed rose garden, herb garden and ‘blue’ walk, featuring blue and mauve flowering plants.
The greenhouse and garden shop feature an assortment of annuals and perennials, as well as tropical plants.
While horses are still available for guests wishing to go for a ride, the huge barn located near the guest house shows that horses once played a far more important role at the resort. Part of the barn now houses a museum of equipment and memorabilia from bygone days at the inn.
The resort encompasses 2,200 acres, and is bordered by the 6,400 acre Mohonk Preserve. This huge area is crisscrossed by some 85 miles (140 km) of hiking trails and carriage roads. One of the most popular hikes takes climbers up a well-groomed but steep trail to the Sky Top lookout.
The mountain-top tower is visible from miles around. Located on a high point of land known as Paltz Point overlooking Lake Mohonk, the tower is the fourth to occupy the site. The first tower was constructed in 1870. It and two subsequent buildings fell victim to high winds and fire. The current tower was completed in 1923 as a memorial to Albert Smiley.
The afternoon of our visit was very hot, and the climb to the lookout was hard work. However, the view from tower was incredible.
With an unobstructed view in all directions, you can see six states: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont. And far below sits Mohonk Mountain House.