Gertrude’s Nose is an impressive section of cliff face in The Gunks. Located within Minnewaska State Park, it’s an easy walk from Lake Minnewaska, or a more challenging one if you hike along the Millbrook Ridge Trail from Trapps Bridge. I did the latter, because I wanted to climb Millbrook Mountain again to see if I could find any turkey vultures. These big birds are ever present in the area, soaring on thermals, and nesting along the cliffs.
The Millbrook Ridge Trail runs along the top of a cliff for about 3 miles with sheer views to the south overlooking the Walkill Valley. Given its Dutch heritage, a lot of rivers in New York State have the word “kill” in them, hence Walkill.
From the top of the cliff looking down, there are wide stretches of talus where pieces of the cliff have sheered off and piled up below. After you pass the summit of Millbrook Mountain (heading west,) there is a section of trail where you can see this process at work. Deep, seemingly bottomless, fissures can be seen plunging between sections of the rocky ridge, as natural forces work to tear apart the cliffs.
As you near Gertrude’s Nose, the trail traverses wide slabs of conglomerate rock with dwarf pitch pine trees growing on top of them. I hiked this section a few years ago on a much hotter, sunny day, and remember being warned to watch out for rattlesnakes that sun themselves in this area.
After arriving at the Nose, which is named after the first landowner, I looped back around and walked toward Lake Minnewaska along the Millbrook Drive Carriageway. From there, I walked around the lake and down Sunset Path to the Trapps Carriageway and Awosting Falls. My wife and I like visiting this spot with its high waterfall and large pond.
I was astonished however but how little water there was in the cascade and the pond below. Apparently the region is in the midst of a severe drought, which has brought on an extreme fire danger level. This pond usually feeds a large stream that parallels Trapps Carriageway, but it is now a bone dry stream bed.
This was doubly a bummer because I was out of water and had been counting on this stream to top off my water supply. I eventually found another with running water at Coxing Kill, but it too was much lower than I remember.
From here, it was just another mile or two back to my car at the West Trapps parking lot and the end of another fine walk in the Gunks. The total distance of this hike was about 10 miles in 6.5 hours.
Directions to the Millbrook Ridge Trail and Gertrude’s Nose:
The Minnnewaska State Park Preserve is west of New Paltz, about 90 miles from New York City. From the New York Thruway, take Exit 18 to New Paltz and turn left after the tollbooth onto westbound Route 299. Stay on Route 299 through New Paltz toward the looming cliffs, following signs to Minnewaska State Park Preserve. After 7.2 miles, turn right at the junction with Routes 44 and 55. Drive about 2.5 miles and turn into the West Trapps parking lot.