A short, fun, challenging rock scramble up Bonticou Crag and a hike to Table Rocks in New York’s Shawangunks.
Our two cents: The Bonticou Crag rock scramble and the views from the top are the stars here and are a must-do. The rest of the hiking in this area is ok and while Table Rocks is worthwhile and has a nice view – it’s not overly enthralling.
- The scramble itself is maybe 15-20 minutes up. There isn’t a shear, deadly drop off (i.e. Angel’s Landing in Zion) but a stumble or fall could be serious. The difficulty is really subjective.
- The scramble is popular but we did this early on a summer Friday morning and had it to ourselves.
- Consider leaving the trekking poles and large cameras behind, they can get in the way.
- For avid hikers, just doing Bonticou Crag is too short a day so we recommend combining it with Table Rocks.
Trail surface: ranges from dirt woods roads to somewhat rocky trail; challenging rock scramble up Bonticou Crag.
- This route: 5.4 miles – Bonticou Crag and Table Rocks
- Shorter: 2.3 miles – Bonticou Crag only
Parking: N41 47.695 W74 07.682
Rt. 87 to New Paltz exit 18. Rt 299 W – Springtown Road – Mountain Rest Road – Upper 27 Knolls Road. Complete directions on the park site. [Roughly 2 hrs from central NJ.]
Restrooms: Composting toilet in the lot was unlocked.
Hike Directions: Overview: RED – Bonticou Road – YELLOW (Bonticou Ascent Path) – BLUE (Northeast Trail) – RED (barely blazed) – BLUE (Table Rocks) – Farm Road
There is a large network of marked and unmarked trails, and it can be confusing. If you need a detailed photo guide, check out Hike the Hudson Valley.
0.0 – From the Spring Farm lot, cross the road from the guard shack and turn LEFT onto Table Rocks Trail (Blue). GPS: TableRocksTr
0.1 – Turn RIGHT onto Crag Trail (Red). GPS: CragTr/TableRocksTr
0.7 – Turn LEFT (but not sharp left) onto Bonticou Road (confusing intersection) and follow the wide dirt road as it curves around. GPS: BonticouRd/CragTr
1.0 – Turn LEFT onto Bonticou Ascent Path (YELLOW). GPS: BonticouAscentPath
Cross Northeast Trail, and start scrambling. GPS: ScrambleStart
Follow the YELLOW blazes painted on the rocks, using both hands and feet to balance and climb up the rock face. Toward the top is a narrow chimney crevice where you need to pull yourself up (or get your buddy/significant other/friendly stranger to give you a helpful boost/shove)
At the top, turn right for break spots and expansive views. YELLOW continues in the other direction (ie, as you get at the top of the scramble, YELLOW continues to the left, but first turn right to soak in the view).
1.5 – RIGHT on Northeast Trail (Blue). GPS: NortheastTrail (Option: Turn left to cut the hike short and skip Table Rocks)
2.4 – Turn LEFT on RED. Sign for Clearwater Road, no obvious blazes. GPS: RED/NortheastTr Follow the woods road, barely blazed RED.
2.7 – Straight on Table Rocks Trail (LIGHT BLUE). Nature Conservation sign. GPS: FarmRd/TableRocks [left is Farm Road/Table Rocks Trail – come back here after Table Rocks.]
3.7 – Turn LEFT to head over to Table Rocks. GPS: To-Table-Rocks After enjoying the view and checking out the deep crevice in Table Rocks, retrace back to the Farm Road intersection.
4.4 – Turn RIGHT and take Farm Road back to the lot. GPS: FarmRd/TableRocks (Table Rocks Trail parallels and then crosses Farm Road). Hike through a variety of paths through meadows, past a gazebo, and Million Dollar View just before returning to the lot.
Hiked: 8/15/14. Trail Blog: “The Gunks Overnighter: Sam’s Point and Bonticou Crag“