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Lake Awosting: Complete Guide

Fed by rainwater, Lake Awosting has unusual water acidity that does not sustain fish. Reached only by foot, bike, or cross-country skiing, it sits in a gorgeous natural area and offers summertime swimming.
itiswild.com Lake Awosting Guide
Lake Awosting in Fall
Source: flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0

Lake Awosting is a 93-acre “Sky Lake” that is created by rainfall rather than streams, rivers, or a dam. Located in the Shawangunk Mountains, it is a popular destination within New York’s Minnewaska State Park Preserve

This lake is accessible year-round for those willing to hike, bike, or cross-country ski into the area. 

A half-mile wide and 1.5 miles in length, Lake Awosting is situated within an area with rugged terrain, impressive views, and excellent outdoor recreation opportunities far from the urban environments in the greater region. 

The Minnewaska State Park Preserve has 50 miles of foot trails and 35 miles of carriage roads within its 22,275 acres. 

Some activities commonly permitted on lakes, such as fishing and boating, are not allowed in Lake Awosting. Despite these restrictions, many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors are possible for those who visit. 

Awosting Falls in Minnewaska State Park Preserve in New York,USA
Awosting Falls – Source: dreamstime


A “Sky Lake” that gets nearly all of its water from rainfall, Lake Awosting took shape in an area that may have been carved during the last Ice Age. 

Due to its source of water, the massive industrialization and establishment of coal-firing factories in the region have impacted the lake’s water quality and acidity. 

During the 1970s, the lake had high acidity, with a pH of 4.0. Since the 1990 Clean Water Act, the pH has improved, reaching 6.5 in 2014. 

Three times larger than Lake Minnewaska, this lake was once part of a resort that Alfred Smiley established in the 1870s. 

Some of the original carriage roads from this period continue to serve as trails for hikers, bikers, snowshoers, and cross-country skiers. 

The state later acquired the land and created the largest Park Preserve in the state system. 

Getting to Lake Awosting

Autumn in Lake Minnewaska State Park, New York
Source: dreamstime

Lake Awosting can be reached by hiking, biking, or cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in winter. There is no vehicle access. 

Those willing to reach the lake have two main options: 

1) A steep 4-mile hike from Aumick Road Parking which requires a 1,600 feet climb.


2) A much easier 3.5-mile route with just 600 feet of elevation gain, starting from a popular Lower Parking Lot near Awosting Falls.


Lake Awosting Overlook
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0

Those who visit Lake Awosting have an opportunity to enjoy hiking, biking, seasonal swimming, and visiting nearby areas of Minnewaska State Park Preserve that offer rock-climbing, bouldering, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. 


  • A designated swimming area has been established on the lake’s south side.
  • Swimming is permitted during the summer season but only when lifeguards are on duty.
  • Swimming is only permitted in the designated, roped-off swimming area.
  • Scuba diving is permitted within this area only for those who carry gear with them.
  • huge rock slab serves as the “beach.”


  • Boating is not permitted on the lake.
  • Sailing and any motorized water activities, such as jet skiing, are prohibited. 


  • Canoeing and kayaking have occurred on other lakes in this preserve but are generally not permitted in this area.


  • Fishing is not allowed in Lake Awosting or in Lake Minnewaska.
  • Fishing would be futile in Lake Awosting since it has not sustained fish populations for any length of time for more than a century.
  • The acidic waters make it impossible for fish to thrive or reproduce.
  • When 1,500 trout were stocked in the lake in 1957, most died within a week. 
  • Nearby Lake Minnewaska was fishless from 1922 to 2008, and the acidic nature of the water makes it nearly impossible for that lake to sustain a fish population.


  • This park and areas around the lake are day-use only.
  • No fires, cooking, or camping are permitted near the lake. 
  • Other campgrounds are available in the area outside of the preserve.


Autumn in Lake Minnewaska State Park, New York
Source: dreamstime

Note: All locations in this preserve are carry-in, carry-out for trash. Dogs are permitted with a leash. 

  • Awosting Falls Trail: Not located at the lake, this trail between the Lower and Upper Parking Areas provides access to the 60-foot Awosting Falls. 
  • Castle Point Carriage Road: Those at the Upper Parking Area may want to take this 4.6-mile trail.
  • Hamilton Point Carriage Road: This 2.9-mile trail offers great access to cliff edges and great vistas.
  • Lake Awosting Carriage Road: This 3.5-mile trail around the lake also offers excellent views of Sam’s Point Preserve and the Hudson Valley.
  • Lower Awosting Carriage Road: A 2.7-mile trail begins at the Lower Parking Area of the park.
  • Rainbow Falls: A trail that connects with other trails leading to the lake, this segment offers views of Rainbow Falls. 
  • Spruce Glen Trial: This 0.7-mile trail originates on the lake’s southern shore, connecting with the 4.3-mile Scenic Trail route. 
  • Upper Awosting Carriage Trail: This 3.1-mile route is the most direct way to reach the lake. 


Sam's Point Area of Minnewaska State Park Preserve, Crags Hawk
Source: unsplash
  • All areas within Minnewaska State Park Preserve are bird conservation areas.
  • Many waterfowl congregate in the area, including those in seasonal migration.
  • Bobcats reside here but are rarely seen.
  • Coyotes tend to appear in the summer and early fall. 
  • Timber rattlesnakes are most commonly witnessed between April and October. 
  • White-tailed deer are found throughout the year. 

Access points

  • Access to the lake is possible through trails from parking areas within Minnewaska State Park Preserve.

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