hike gertrude’s nose Minnewaska State Park Preserve photostory by danny wild @dannywild11
The hike to Gertrude’s Nose offers some of the best views and dramatic cliffs in the Gunks and Hudson Valley. There are a few routes to reach the “nose” area, but I have tried to keep things simple in my adventures out there. The trail is pleasant with nice views along the way, but it’s the payoff at the end that provides a chance to stand on the edge of the Gunks’ iconic white rock cliffs, where you can see for miles.
The basic route for this hike includes three marked trails at Minnewaska. Begin at the main Lake Minnewaska parking lot and take the lake loop trail around to the opposite end, where you make a right onto the Millbrook Mountain Carriage Road. A little over half an hour into the hike, you will reach the Gertrude’s Nose Trail, a footpath on the right that is marked with a red trail blaze and an old signpost. This trail offers a variety of terrain, from a narrow path through blueberry bushes, to a steep rocky slope, to a tiny creek you will need to hop over before reaching towered, cracked cliffs.
I typically stop and snap photos along the way, so for me it takes about an hour and a half to reach Gertrude’s Nose. There is plenty more to explore beyond that point, so I would give yourself at least four to five hours to get out there, have lunch, and walk back.
1 This hike starts at the lake loop trail at Lake Minnewaska, marked in red.
2 The trail splits, with the Millbrook Mountain Carriage Road continuing on the left and the Hamilton Point Carriage Road to the right. You will stay left here, although Hamilton Point is also a beautiful walk.
Remember that you hike at your own risk and are responsible for your own preparedness and well-being.
3 Patterson’s Pellet is the first landmark you will find on the Millbrook trail. It’s a glacial erratic: a rock left behind by the glaciers that formed the Gunks about 300 million years ago. There are many other rocks like this perched on the edges of cliffs out this way. This is a good spot for a water break, and you can also see straight across to the cliffs on the Hamilton and Castle Point trails. You can see beautiful colors here in autumn too.
4 The hardest part of the trail is right before you hit the cliff area. A steep slope covered in boulders will test your balance and focus. It’s the perfect place to twist or roll an ankle. I take things as slowly as possible here, especially descending. Once you have survived that stretch, you are almost there. The trail continues downward and passes underneath some power lines, and you will cross a very small stream. A short walk up, and you will reach a wide open rock face with more scattered boulders
5 Now, you will reach Gertrude’s Nose, or at least the cliff that most people associate with the name and stop at to pose for a photo. I guess there is some debate about whether this specific rock is the “nose” or whether it’s the entire rock formation on this trail—or maybe it’s the very end—but either way, it will make your legs weak watching your friends stand out there with nothing below. (Gertrude’s Nose was named after Gertrude Bruyn, a 17th century settler who donated much of the land.)
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6 Next, you will reach the farthest point you can hike out to before having to either turn the corner or go back the way you came. In my way, I retrace my steps back and enjoy the views again. At this point, you’ve got a panoramic view for miles.
7 Once I get back to the lake loop trail, I turn right and continue down to the lake’s edge. For those who continue on the trail at the cliffs, it will hook up with Millbrook again and return you to this spot at the lake as well.
8 Finally, enjoy the sunset at the iconic Minnewaska gazebo. Look for the old iron spikes in the rocks, which once anchored the gazebos from the former Wildmere and Cliff House hotels that stood on the edge of the lake. The park typically closes at sunset.