Sam's Point Preserve
|Sam's Point Preserve|
|Location||Ulster County, New York|
|Area||4,600 acres (19 km2)|
Sam's Point Preserve, or Sam's Point Dwarf Pine Ridge Preserve, is a 4,600-acre (19 km²) preserve in Ulster County on the highest point (2,289 feet/697 m, on the Ellenville / Shawangunk border) of the Shawangunk Ridge in New York. It is owned by the Open Space Institute and managed by The Nature Conservancy. Its unique environment features dwarf pine trees along the ridgetop. Located within the park is Lake Maratanza, the highest lake on the ridge, and the Ellenville Fault Ice Caves.
The name derives from a story that a man named Sam, pursued by Indians, jumped off the cliff to avoid capture and miraculously survived the drop with the trees breaking his fall. Roads throughout the preserve were built as fire roads in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
The land was once owned by the nearby village of Ellenville to protect its watershed and partly by a company which offered tours of the ice caves. The Open Space Institute, working with The Nature Conservancy bought it with assistance from the Lila Acheson and Dewitt Wallace Fund for the Hudson Highlands, after the village considered selling the land to developers.
In 2005, the Preserve opened the Sam’s Point Conservation Center with education facilities, exhibits and a gift shop. A parking fee of $10 per vehicle is charged.
The Ellenville Fault Ice Caves is the largest known open fault in the United States with corresponding ice caves. As a result of the cool microclimate, ice is present throughout the year and more northern plants such as black spruce, hemlock, mountain ash, and creeping snowberry, and bryophytes such as Isopterygium distichaceum are able to survive.1 It was designated a National Natural Landmark in November 1967.2
There are hiking trails to the ice caves which are open in the summer, but a permit is required to visit the area.
The Long Path long-distance hiking trail crosses it, eventually reaching VerKeerderkill Falls. A branch leads to Sam's Point (with a view of land for many miles, sometimes as far as High Point in New Jersey), and another to the ice caves, with solar powered lights. Visitors who want to get to Sam's Point have to go through Cragsmoor. Sam's Point Preserve is near the Mohonk Preserve and Minnewaska State Park Preserve.
- Nature Conservancy page
- Open Space Institute page
- NY-NJTC: Sam's Point Preserve - Sam's Point Dwarf Pine Ridge Preserve Trail Details and Info
- Trail Map to Ice Caves
- Sam's Point Ice Caves Re-opened to the Public