Lets face it. If you want to go to Mohonk Mountain House, you’re going to have to shell out a bit of cash. Day passes are $75/family on the weekends and $55 during the week, just to hike the grounds with no Mountain House access. I believe you can also pay around $21 per person for specific hikes as well. Nightly rates start at around $600/night PER PERSON, if you book early enough, use a coupon code and get a great deal. Weekend stays can be prohibitively expensive. And entire weeks? Well… if you’re staying there for an entire week(s) for a family vacation, you’re likely not socializing with folks like me🤣🤷🏻♀️. Just sayin.
All of this being said, the moment I saw it highlighted in the New York Times, I HAD to go. And I had to take my kiddos to experience the magic. We were fortunate enough to be living about an hour away at the time, so I knew I could day trip it. However, I would need to plan a little in advance in order to maximize the adventure! So here’s what we did…
Oh- let me also preface by saying we went in the summertime in June, so this is a summer time itinerary for your planning purposes!
I started by booking us an early lunch at 11AM at The Granary. I did this for a few reasons. Number 1, food always makes everything better, especially with kids, especially when it’s a buffet, outside and BBQ style food (think burgers, hot dogs etc). Second, to even hike the grounds, you’re going to pay $55-$70 per family and that does NOT include Mountain House access, which is pretty spectacular and where a lot of the activities are (i.e. rowboats, cookies and tea at 4, game room etc).
I ended up paying just under $100 for me and my 3 rascals to eat lunch, but it was worth it. The food was absolutely delicious. Not your average burgers and dogs. All the food is locally sourced, meat was grass fed and all that jazz. Anyhow. It was delish. And kid friendly. And you better believe I loaded up the stroller with chips, fruit, nuts and cookies for hiking snacks later on. Shameless or smart planning. You decide.
We spent about an 45 minutes eating. We were outside, with an incredible view of the lake and mountains. It had a calming affect on the kiddos and made for a nice time. Plus I had starved them all morning so they were VERY focused on their food.
After we finished eating, we decided it was a good time for a hike! So I loaded up the stroller, parked it at the kids shack, strapped Timmy to my back in my Tula and headed up the mountain with the kiddos, who were bursting with energy and dying to run. The trails were amazing, and there was a huge variety to choose from ranging from family friendly and easy to expert and extremely difficult. I mean, it is the Shawanagunks after all. We took a gander at the most difficult path, The Labyrinth, just for fun, but it looked insane. I don’t even know what kind of jiu jitsu ninja skills you’d have to tap into to actually do it!
We ended up hiking the Sky Top Trail. There are several ways to access this trail, and we accessed it from the kids shack, near the base of the labyrinth hike. You actually pass the Labyrinth and Lemon Squeeze hikes, but the pathways are pretty clearly marked to Sky Top. The hike was about 1.5 miles, straight up the mountain, which sounds a little nuts to do with 3 kids, but we loved it. The pathways are very nicely groomed and there are several lookout or stopping points all along the way. And there are spectacular views of the Lae and Mohonk house the whole way up. I can’t really explain it well, but it was just a fantastic hike for us. Here are a few pictures that might help explain it a bit better!
The top of Sky Top Trail is truly magnificent. There’s a wide open field type area where you can sit and relax, have a snack etc and enjoy the view. There’s also a really cool old stone tower, and if you go up that, on a clear day, many boast that you can see 6 states from the top (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont). The tower was also really fun to play around in. The kids turned it into their “castle” of course, and I had to drag them from it so we could continue on our adventure!
The hike down was entirely down hill and the kids had a blast running down the trails. My 4y/o got a little tired at points, but like I said, we just stopped at those gazebo lookouts along the way, had some water and a snack and she made it. I also lured her down with promises of rowboat rides once we reached the lake… that really did the trick. They both put that pep in their step and we were at the rowboats in no time.
Once we reached the dock, there were paddle boats and rowboats for us to choose from. If you are staying at Mohonk, they are free to use, but if you are a day guest, it is $12/half hour to rent (or at least it was when we went). The staff was super friendly and helped us all choose and get into our boat. Which was no easy feat by myself with 3 excited kiddos. We selected the paddle boats first and the half hour zipped by so quickly, we had to come back and immediately rent a row boat.
Let me tell you. A Rowboat is WAY harder to maneuver than a paddle boat! Lets just say, I really got my workout in and when the kids wanted yet another half hour on the lake, I said there was no way I could physically do another half hour! Plus, it was time for cookies and tea at Mohonk House (which is free for overnight and day guests)! So that won them over.
Cookies and Tea at the House were just the relaxing break we needed. The cookies were delicious and fresh baked, the dining room was gorgeous, there were fun board games you could play and the staff was super friendly. I realized quickly, however, that the dining room was no place for 3 sugared up kiddos with an unlimited cookie stream at their fingertips!
Lucky for us, Mohonk has a beautiful wrap around porch we could easily escape to. The porch had a lovely atmosphere. There were several rocking chairs and the edge of the porch, practically met up with the lake. I don’t know what it is about lakes, but they are just so calming. There were also several large Koi in the smaller part of the lake where we found rocking chairs and the kids were fascinated.
After our afternoon tea, we did a little more exploring. I was dying to see the inside, so we did a little exploring there, but as you can imagine, that did not last long. So outside we went again to see the horses. You can also buy carriage rides or ride a horse for an hour, but we were too tired. Plus, my son really wanted to see the old car museum they have out there in one of the barns at Mohonk. So we just saw the horses, walked around and explored the car museum.
We putzed around the grounds for a bit more after that, but by now it was around 6:30pm and we were all hungry and completely wiped. I had valeted my car (something I rarely do), but with 3 kiddos, I knew it would be worth it. Parking can be a bit of a hike to the actual house, especially in the summer time. Kiddos were so tired I don’t think they would have made it. So I marched my happy little self to the front desk and they fetched my car and in we went. Were on our way in 10 minutes. I had plans to stop by a fun place for dinner to discuss our adventures, but all the kids by that time had completely passed out! We were home by 7:45, had a late supper and went to bed!