June 30, 2018 – Gardiner, NY
Length: Approximately 2.5 miles
Max elevation: 1,224 ft.– total elevation gain approximately 567 ft.
Route type: Circuit
Fee: $15.00 day hiking fee (Non-Member) – Purchase Membership
Trailhead parking: Mohonk Preserve Coxing Trailhead – Gardiner, NY 12525
The Lost City is a line of cliffs with glacially created vertical fractures. They resemble a city skyline when viewed from a distance. The Lost City area offers a series of crevices and boulders similar to the well-known Lemon Squeeze of the Mohonk Mountain House. Like the Lemon Squeeze, it requires the use of hands and feet to traverse the talus field which leads up the cliffs.
I had heard about the Lost City, but there isn’t a lot of info online, so I decided to go check it out and play it by ear. My intention was to go with someone that had hiked it before. Since there is no blazed path through the talus fields and crevices, I didn’t want to climb and crawl through tight openings and end up at a dead end atop a monolith. Recently I hiked nearby and did the High Peter’s Kill and Millbrook Ridge Loop. While on that hike, I walked briefly on an unmarked trail along the edge of the cliffs. I wanted to see if that trail continued to the top of the Lost City cliffs. As it turned out, the trail did indeed run along the top of the cliffs, from Lost City to the High Peter’s Kill Trail. The people that I went with had never hiked the Lost City and I only found that out once we were at the base of the cliffs. Since none of us knew a precise route up to the cliffs, this hike turned into a short loop, but was still a really good hike.
We arrived at the Coxing Trailhead at about 8:30 am on a Saturday morning.
There were about a dozen cars in the lot when we arrived, but as is always the case on weekends at Mohonk Preserve, the lot fills up quickly. At the southern end of the parking area, there is a kiosk, which marks the start of the light-blue-blazed High Peter’s Kill Trail. This is also the route of the blue-blazed Shawangunk Ridge Trail (SRT).
The High Peter’s Kill Trail follows a woods road.
In a short distance, the trail passes the Enderly Burial Ground on the right.
The trail then crosses a wet area on a boardwalk and continues through a hemlock forest.
After crossing a stream on a wooden bridge, the trail begins a gentle climb, paralleling the stream for a short distance. It then crosses the stream on rocks and bears right, away from the stream. A short distance later, we came to a junction with the yellow-blazed King’s Lane Trail, which continues straight ahead.
King’s Lane is an old woods road, once used for hauling loads of conglomerate to be made into grindstones. The road now serves as a path for rock climbers to reach the cliffs of The Lost City.
The road leads gradually uphill, with the cliffs visible through the trees on the left. We walked on King’s Lane for about 550 yards, to its terminus. We passed a few side trails on the way up, but continued to the end, trying to figure out which was the best way to go. We reached a clearing and we left the trail to approach the cliffs and have a look around.
It was eerily quiet and not knowing which way to go or if even we were in the right place, made me a little uneasy. I like to plan things out and study the route before I head anywhere I haven’t been. The imposing cliffs in front of us had many openings and hiding places for critters, which didn’t make me feel any better. I didn’t want to climb into a bear or snake den.
I wanted to feel the place out before we started exploring in depth, so we found a path around a large rock formation and climbed up top for a better vantage point.
As soon as we got to top, one of my colleagues sat down right beside this Copperhead and immediately jumped up. It was nestled in a crack in the rock and very nicely camouflaged among the leaves. It appeared to have just finished shedding.
Needless to say, after that encounter, we were all a little hesitant about crawling through any tight spaces. We made our way back down and retraced our steps on King’s Lane, passing different rock formations with all kinds of nooks and crannies.
We walked up another side trail that we had passed earlier and found a gap in the cliffs. There is a path leading up the side that climbs rather steeply. We decided to take that route.
We began following a faint path that heads southwest atop the cliffs.
We stopped to examine the fissures in the cliffs.
As we walked along the edge of the cliffs, views opened up. Looking southeast, to the left of the narrow notch is The Trapps and Millbrook Mountain is on the right.
Looking northeast, Skytop Tower is visible in the distance.
Looking straight down from the edge of the cliffs, possibly a route up.
Walking along this unmarked path on the edge of the cliffs was really enjoyable. The scenery in this area is exceptional.
Looking down one of the fissures of The Lost City.
We continued heading southwest, stopping occasionally to take in the views.
The beauty of this area is that we did not encounter any other hikers from the time we got on King’s Lane.
We decide to stay along the edge of the cliffs rather than follow the path that led away from it. We then began to descend steeply, scrambling down some giant boulders and talus fields. We passed many more crevices on the way down.
This massive monolith looks like a skyscraper.
Even though we didn’t do the rock scrambling and crevice exploration that we expected when we set out on this hike, the downhill scramble was fun.
Climbing over the massive boulders on our way down.
Since there is no set path, we just figured out the best way down.
When we cleared the talus field, we bushwacked through the woods until we reached the High Peter’s Kill Trail. Here we turned left and headed northeast.
When we reached the junction with King’s Lane, we turned right to remain on the High Peter’s Kill Trail.
We then retraced our steps along the light-blue-blazed High Peter’s Kill Trail until we reached the Coxing Trailhead, where our hike began.
After we completed the hike, we took an obligatory walk over to Split Rock and relaxed a bit. It was quite crowded at noon when we arrived there, but nonetheless a gorgeous spot.
Although this was supposed to be more of an exploration of The Lost City than an actual hike, I have no regrets. My hikes are never written in stone and I can adapt and improvise whenever necessary. Bottom line is that as long as I am in the woods or on a mountain top, it’s a good day. I now discovered new areas to roam and I fully expect to be back soon and fully explore. The walk along the cliffs and the downhill scrambling were very enjoyable.
Pros: Lost City, cliff walk, views, rock scrambling, The Gunks.
Cons: Copperhead snake.
Take a hike!