The pristine, beautiful Lake Minnewaska is located high upon the Shawangunk Ridge at the Minnewaska State Park Preserve. Once known as Coxing Pond, the 36-acre lake was created during the last ice age by glacial movements that carved small basins in the bedrock. The lake is a ½ mile long and reaches depths up to 72 feet. Recreational activities abound with seasonal swimming, non-motorized boating (with permits), picnicking in open fields and a relaxing 2-mile hiking trail that circles the lake, offering fabulous views of the water, foliage and sheer rock cliffs.
The area around Lake Minnewaska was once home to two prominent mountain hotels, the Cliff House and the Wildmere. Both were owned and operated the Smiley family, the same family that operated the still existing Mohonk Mountain House. The Cliff House opened for business in 1879 and remained in operation until 1972 when it was abandoned. It burned down in 1978. The Wildmere opened for business in 1887 and remained in operation until 1979. It burned down in 1986. While the hotels may no longer exist, their legacy lives on with much of their land now belonging to either the Mohonk Preserve or the Minnewaska State Park Preserve. The Preserves, certainly two gems of the state park system, offers thousands of natural wonderland acres for hikers, rock climbers, photographers, skiers and more.