One of the many great things about living in upstate New York is that ALL of the state parks are free to any resident over the age of 62. From Monday to Friday, you simply scan your drivers license (or any other authentic piece of residency and age proof) at the front entrance and enjoy your day. (And yes! This includes Niagara Falls!) Many of the state parks have been re-vamped and revitalized thanks to the billions of dollars Governor Cuomo poured in to the systems. That means new rest rooms, new walkways, new clearly marked hiking trails, upgraded RV and camping facilities, new employees and just an overall fantastic good sense once you are inside any of the many state parks pitted throughout New York state.

Every year, hubby and I like to spend the day at one of our favorite state parks, Lake Minnewaska. Usually we hike up the carriage trail around the lake and wind up at the top of the mountain with spectacular views. Conveniently there are a bunch of picnic tables up there where hubby and I can enjoy an al fresca, home packed lunch while we take in the majestic Shawangunk Mountain sights.

This year we decided to skip the lake trail and head straight to the Awosting Falls trail. Having never been there before we didn’t know what to expect. We had one concern and that was the blistering sun. Despite the temps being in the 70s, the sun beating down on us was debilitating. We were worried about the heat and our little puppy (she’s really not a puppy anymore, having almost reached one year, but we call her our little puppy anyway because she is so small). Much to our surprise, most of the trail was protected from the sun due to the plethora of low hanging trees. Our hike to the falls now turned in to a pleasant and enjoyable experience for all of us.

The falls did not disappoint. We followed a stream which led down the mountain side to the falls. The falls were the tallest I have ever seen and fed into a little pool where I think people used to swim. Swimming on the beach is now strictly forbidden due to the fragile eco system. As long as we stayed on the newly re-vamped hiking trail, we were golden. We followed the trail, which adhered to the massive stream (and we heard the sound of the falls throughout our hike) as far as we could till exhaustion took over. We stopped to rest under the shade of the trees when we spotted what looked like bear poop. Uh oh, we thought. Time to head back! We stopped for a photo op and then made our way back to the parking lot.

It was an unbelievable but exhausting day. When we got back home, puppy and I slept for hours! It was a hike surely to remember and we can’t wait to get back there once again!

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