Sam's Point Preserve
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Sam’s Point Preserve shelters one of the Earth’s rarest ecosystems, the dwarf pine barrens. Consisting of mature stunted trees and a shrubby understory, the barrens are noted for their low fertility rate and sparse canopy. Blueberry, huckleberry, and sheep laurel shrubs dot the Sam’s Point area while species like wintergreen, wild lily-of-the-valley, and a diversity of mosses cover the ground. Sam’s Point was formerly known as the Ellenville Ice Caves, named after the deep glaciated crevasses that retain winter ice and snow through much of the summer, making them a popular destination for those escaping the summer heat.
The Open Space Institute acquired the 5,770-acre Sam’s Point Preserve in a series of transactions between the early 1980s and 1997. The property was transferred to the State of New York in 2006, expanding Minnewaska State Park Preserve by nearly 25%, and is managed as a nature preserve by The Nature Conservancy (TNC), ensuring its beauty for future generations. OSI and TNC have completed major repairs to the trails leading up to the ice caves, once again allowing public access to this unique geologic feature.
Designated as one of 75 “Last Great Places” in the Western Hemisphere by The Nature Conservancy, Sam’s Point Preserve is accessible for a variety of recreational and educational uses including hiking, bird watching, cross-country skiing, and more. Visitors can hike more than thirteen miles of trails to enjoy cascading waterfalls such as Verkeerderkill Falls, stark quartz cliffs, picturesque streams, the 57-acre Lake Maratanza, and views that extend into five states.