Sam's Point

Sam’s Point Ice Caves Re-Opened to Public

Image Credit: Brett Cole

CRAGSMOOR, NY - 6/11/2002 - On Saturday, June 15, 2002, the Open Space Institute (OSI) and the Nature Conservancy (TNC) will hold a grand re-opening of the unique Ice Caves at the Sam's Point Dwarf Pine Ridge Preserve in Ellenville, Ulster County. Members of the press and the public are invited to attend a ceremony, tours of the ice caves, and a guided hike to Verkeerderkill Falls.

The Ice Caves, located in the heart of the northern Shawangunk Mountains, are deep and very narrow fissures and crevasses in the Shawangunk conglomerate bedrock that retain winter ice and snow through much of the summer, resulting in a wonderfully cool microenvironment. Previously known as Ice Caves Mountain, the property was, for thirty years from 1967 - 1996, a renowned regional tourist attraction, with upwards of 20,000 visitors per year, most escaping the Hudson Valley summer heat and humidity. Over the last several years, major improvements have been made to the trails leading to and through the Ice Caves including repairs to railings, boardwalks and ladders. The walk to the Ice Caves affords spectacular views of the Shawangunk Ridge, the Catskills and the Hudson Highlands.

The Open Space Institute purchased the 4,600-acre property from private owners in 1996, as part of an ongoing conservation program atop the Shawangunk Ridge. In addition to being home to the Ice Caves, the property boasts over 13 miles of trails, High Point (the highest point in the Shawangunk Mountain Range), and Verkeerderkill Falls. Sam's Point Preserve is considered the “jewel in the crown” of the Shawangunk Ridge.

Now managed by The Nature Conservancy, Sam's Point is home to one of only two known examples worldwide of a ridgetop dwarf pine barrens. Home to nearly 40 rare plant and animal species and three rare natural communities, the Northern Shawangunks represent one of the highest conservation priorities in the northeastern United States and has been designated a “Last Great Place” by The Nature Conservancy.

“The reopening of the Ice Caves is cause for celebration,” said Joe Martens OSI's President, “Thanks to The Nature Conservancy's efforts the public will once again be able to enjoy this natural wonder.”

“We are excited that the Ice Caves will once again be open for the enjoyment of the public,” said Kathy Moser, executive director of the Eastern New York Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. “Our partnership with the Open Space Institute is a wonderful example of two conservation organizations working together to protect large landscapes for the enjoyment of generations to come.”

The grand re-opening ceremony will be held on June 15, 2002, at 10:30 a.m. Those wishing to attend the ceremony are asked to allow 30 minutes to walk from the parking area to the Ice Caves. Speakers will include Joe Martens, President of OSI, and Henry Tepper, NY State Director of TNC, and Elliott Aurbach, former mayor of Ellenville, who was instrumental in the negotiation of the sale of the property to OSI, and is now executive director of the Sullivan-Wawarsing Rural Economic Area Partnership. After the ceremony and tours of the Caves, TNC and OSI will offer a guided hike to Verkeerderkill Falls. 

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