Historic stone steps at Sam’s Point open

Lenape Steps
Sam’s Point

CRAGSMOOR – The historic cliffside steps at Sam’s Point Area of Minnewaska State Park Preserve have been reopening after a three-year rebuilding project.

The Lenape Steps, at the base of the Shawangunk Ridge in Cragsmoor, date back to the 1860s, when early hotel owner Thomas Botsford built them in a narrow chasm for guests to reach the top of the ridge.

The stairs remained a popular tourism attraction after the hotel was destroyed by fire in 1874 but had been in a state of disrepair for many decades.

“This gives visitors a now much-safer way to reach Sam’s Point, the highest point on the Shawangunk Ridge with its panoramic vistas,” said State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid.

Restoration of the stairs was the result of a project by about 50 volunteers from the Jolly Rovers, a Hudson Valley group specializing in the building of natural stone pathways in difficult to reach areas.

Ulster County Executive Patrick Ryan called Sam’s Point “a real treasure.”

Starting in July 2019, volunteer crews from the Jolly Rovers primarily using hand tools cut, shaped, and set about 100 stone steps made from nearby boulders.

More than 7,000 man-hours were devoted to the work.

The Palisades Interstate Park Commission provided $32,000 to support the project and the Jolly Rovers raised over $4,200.

The Lenape Steps are the latest project at Minnewaska to involve the Jolly Rovers, whose members have also worked on the stairway that leads to the base of Stony Kill Falls and the staircase that connects Rainbow Falls to the Upper Awosting Carriage Road Trail, as well as the stairway connecting the nearby Mohonk Preserve further north on the ridge.

The group has also been involved in several projects in Bear Mountain State Park and Hudson Highlands State Park.

Future plans by the Jolly Rovers at Minnewaska include installation of stone steps starting this spring through a talus slope on the Gertrude’s Nose Trail.

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