Hidden Treasure... Found
For decades Stony Kill Falls had been a secret gem known to locals and avid tourists of the famed Shawangunk Ridge. Hidden in the southwest flank of the Minnewaska State Park Preserve, a towering 90 foot drop swelled every Spring into a roaring waterfall with no official access route. Gated off at the end of an unassuming road with the unappealing name of Shaft 2A Road, only those in the know knew where to go.
That all changed with the rise of social media. A location as grand as Stony Kill Falls was quickly tagged and re-tagged and plotted on Google Maps so that within no time, the once secret spot had become a well sought after attraction by the parks 300,000 annual visitors. Resting in an ecologically sensitive area, parking began backing up along the small road and public herd paths began forming to access the falls by any means necessary. Often traversing sensitive and unstable areas via dangerous routes by patron's ill prepared for rock scrambles or slick lichen covered surfaces, it's days of obscurity were over.
In 2016, the Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC) put out a bid to create an official access trail to allow visitors a safe and sustainable route to the iconic attraction. Tahawus Trails LLC was awarded the bid and would approach the Jolly Rovers to become a partner on the project to design and build a section of the ascent along with a viewing platform.
Work began in in the late Fall of 2016 and would continue throughout the Fall of 2017. For the Rovers, the project proved to be an enticing opportunity to create in a way they had never created before. As a new trail through a landscape of a moss covered boulder field highlighted with cliffs, streams, pools and waterfalls, the canvas was ripe with dramatic design opportunities.
Intense effort was placed on integrating every stone with the dramatic elements around us. Massive 8-10 foot slabs of the native conglomerate were uncovered and maneuvered by hand to form monolithic stepping surfaces that literally and aesthetically emerged from the ancient boulder field below. With minimal shaping and an emphasis on fitting natural shapes and displaying naturally aged surfaces, the final product would yield a trail fit for modern use with an ancient feel.
A total of 30 days would be spent, totaling over 3,000 volunteer hours into the construction of the 35 step ascent culminating in a large 12' by 12' stone paved viewing platform at the base of the Falls itself.