Minnewaska State Park - The Lenape Steps
A Special Project: Historic Re-Creation
The Lenape Steps of Minnewaska State Park Preserve re-opened on March 26, 2022 as a durable and historic reconstruction of the landmark ascent to Sam’s Point, first created 164 years earlier. Over the course of 3 seasons of labor, the Jolly Rovers Trail Crew meticulously shaped and precisely positioned 89 steps and countless anchoring stones. Measuring 10 feet wide at the lower entrance to barely 2 feet wide in the narrowest pinchpoint, all these steps harmonize with the surrounding cliff faces. The Rovers took pains to procure raw materials only from the immediate vicinity, and compatible colors and textures were consistently preserved at every coordinate of the project.
In 1858 Thomas Botsford erected the Sam's Point Mountain House to provide access to one of the Hudson Valley's most visited and iconic destinations. To complete his attraction, Botsford installed a flight of stone steps ascending through a stone chasm to connect the hotel with the spectacular panoramic overlook above. In 1862, only four years later, the Botsford’s hotel was lost to fire. But the steps and view remained, attracting visitors for the next century.
By the 1960s the original staircase was in significant disrepair, as a century of freezing and thawing had undermined the structure. By this time the staircase to Sam’s Point had come to be known as the "Indian Steps", named after the Lenape Nation of Native Americans which inhabited the territory until the 18th century. Although these steps severely deteriorated, becoming increasingly unsafe and unattractive to park patrons, a dream emerged to restore the Lenape Steps to feature status.
At the official opening on March 26, NY State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “Our partners at the Jolly Rovers Trail Crew have reconstructed the Lenape Steps at Sam’s Point after a painstaking 3 year process, a literal labor of love. We are grateful for the perseverance of the Jolly Rovers in the face of so many obstacles, including hurricanes and, of course, the global pandemic. The weight of the stone blocks alone would have been enough to scare off most volunteers, but not the Rovers.”
The Jolly Rovers primarily employed hand tools to cut and shape the Shawangunk conglomerate for installation to the Lenape Steps. More than 7,000 person-hours were devoted to this project. Today, the destination overlook atop Sam’s Point is attracting more than half a million visitors annually. This historic re-creation is the 4th project completed by the Jolly Rovers in Minnewaska State Park and Preserve. Very close by to Sam's Point, the visitor can also find the Ice Caves Trail, which the Rovers completed in 2015. The Ice Caves Trail is a labyrinthine pathway running just beneath ground surface -- complete with natural skylights to the open air above.