Mohonk cracks down on nudity

Split Rock has long been one of the Shawangunks’ most popular and even iconic swimming holes – if indeed it can be called a hole. The area just downstream has long been a popular destination for nudists. (John Hayes | Mohonk Preserve)

Mohonk Preserve announced this week that nude hiking and sun-bathing in the area below the Split Rock swimming area will be formally prohibited beginning this year. The Preserve cited “[persistent] … inappropriate public behavior in an area just yards away from where families and other visitors were enjoying the trail and Split Rock wading area” as well as damage to the surrounding land in the form erosion and the creation of unauthorized trails.

Here’s the announcement:

For many years, the land below the Split Rock wading area was used as a place where naturists congregated, although nudity and nude hiking/sunbathing were never sanctioned recreational uses at Mohonk Preserve.

Recently, there has been an increase in land management issues around this area, including the unauthorized creation of several trails and increased erosion of the area along the Coxing Kill. Additionally, some visitors persistently engaged in inappropriate public behavior in an area just yards away from where families and other visitors were enjoying the trail and Split Rock wading area. Further, public nudity is prohibited by New York State Law.

After extensive evaluation and in consultation with Mohonk Preserve’s Land Stewardship Committee, nudity was formally prohibited at Mohonk Preserve in conjunction with the reopening of the Coxing Trailhead.

We want to offer all members and visitors a pleasant experience in nature during their time at the Preserve and strive always to conserve the natural resources we are charged with protecting. The area around Split Rock will continue to be open for all to enjoy.

We understand that this decision is disappointing to some of you and we apologize that all members were not informed prior to the posting and enforcement of this rule.

There are 21 comments

  1. Edmund Earle

    I notice not a single reason given for this change in policy as nudity as the actual cause:

    “Recently, there has been an increase in land management issues around this area, including the unauthorized creation of several trails and increased erosion of the area along the Coxing Kill.”
    -Not relevant to the clothing optional policy: irresponsible people are a staple of any park. And thanks to the reversal, more people -not less- will be trampling where they don’t belong.

    “Additionally, some visitors persistently engaged in inappropriate public behavior in an area just yards away from where families and other visitors were enjoying the trail and Split Rock wading area.”
    -Not relevant to the clothing optional policy: untoward exhibitionism happens anywhere and should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis the way we deal with most other park infractions.

    “Further, public nudity is prohibited by New York State Law.”
    -Mohonk Preserve is privately owned.

    The real reason for this change seems to be that Mohonk Preserve made the calculation that they could make more money from day-use visitors than from the local community, even at the cost of community relations, and their mission of preserving nature.

    1. Darius Arjuna

      Every single point made by Edmund is accurate. In fact, with the closing of the preserve far fewer people returned to downstream. A couple of weeks ago, on a nice day, I and another contributor who clean up the garbage and fallen branches and trees, were the only ones down there. There are ABSOLUTELY no new trails, and the only erosion is naturally caused by the stream. You see, the people currently running the preserve are LIARS. And it is hugely outrageous that people who deign to think of themselves as progressive would misleadingly perpetuate the falsehood that nude is lewd and that it is common for nude users to flash passers-by. Yes, there was one nasty, hairy, fat older NYC scumbag subhuman who occasionally showed up, but he was a pariah. For decades, those who developed the preserve thought it was right to set aside a small part for naturists. Who the hell are those who created nothing to say the values of those who truly welcomed a diversity of people were wrong. Some progressives! What phony hypocritical bigots.

      1. Bob J

        I love that they are not progressives because you don’t like their decision. Also, why is nudism progressive to you? Here you fat and hair shame one person that you say occasionally visits. Another upset person argues that Mohonk is ruining an old tradition at the swimming hole. Another says he/she enjoys watching the hot bodies of rock climbers, which is a bit creepy. Yall have to get your story straight.

        Maybe it is progress to put an end to this nudist community’s gatherings at Mohonk.

    2. Roy G Biv

      This is New Paltz, NY, not the show “Naked and Afraid”! Despite what you’re seeing and hearing in the news lately, we live in a civilized society. Civilized people living in the USA and under the laws of the USA, don’t run around naked in public.

      Is wearing a bathing suit that much of an issue? If you want to swim naked, stick to your bathtub. Or go to some European country where it’s acceptable.

      1. Darius

        While I generally agree with your opinion about the current violence and riots being, by some definitions, “uncivilized,” you are simply wrong about the history of naked swimming in the USA. Until relatively recently, it used to be the norm. Swimming suits were considered unhygienic. Boys and men did swimming classes in gym entirely naked, sometimes in front of and in the presence of women and girls. Swimming competitions were done completely naked. Swimming by both genders was entirely without clothes. If your family goes back in this area even just 100 years or so, you probably heard about your grandparents or great grandparents skinny dipping. Bathing suits were a waste of money. Madison Avenue changed that. If you need further education on this, you should search on Quora. If you are attracted to naked males, you may like the pictures as well as the text. Unfortunately, the preserve is run by non-locals, mostly from the City. They don’t appreciate the wholesome local heritage, and they conflate the perversion from the City with local innocence. The preserve has a habit of arrogating to itself the role of teacher, but it really is quite ignorant and misinformed.

      2. Former nude model who you probably watched climb the falls back in the day and two would probably kick you in the teeth right about now if she had to see you in public

        Well Roy, I was conceived in New Paltz and went to school in New Paltz and live close to New vaults and I’ve been wondering in and out of New Paltz on and off for nearly 60 years so kind of feel like I might have some idea of whether nudity is normal around New Paltz… People have been naked in that stream my entire life and people have been naked in that stream as far as I know my parents entire life and if you think it’s a court requirement to civilization to wear clothes, I hope you stay out of art museums.

        You philistine.

  2. Chris Ernst

    This is rediculous! If I am not mistaken, this is the traditional nudist spot that was nearby the popular “Gunks” rock climber areas.
    (1) I wanted to investigate some rock climbing someday and have a swim, and (2) rock climbers are ripped and hot and make for great eye candy.

    Just when it makes sense to find an out of the way swimming hole due to corona, they pull this shit!

    Who’s phone can I blow up?

    1. Utred Ragnarsson

      Please don’t stay away. There are some awesome bathing suits available at International Jock and other websites that highlight every well toned muscle. Many of these would be perfectly appropriate for the most sophisticated European beach, or even our own untamed woodlands and nature preserves.

  3. FunkieGunkie

    Edmund Earl is right. It’s all about money. They are the wrong kind green. If the Mohonk Preserve was truly concerned about conservation then they wouldn’t allow road side parking and trespassing and they would enforce this. They wouldn’t spend money for advertising and to develop the land for ecotourists with more parking lots. They wouldn’t let their park get trampled the way it does and garbage would get picked up off the side of the roads. Every weekend this place turns into a circus act and there isn’t enough staff to safely welcome and serve the visitors. The management needs to stick to their mission of conservation because this place is becoming an amusement park. Amusement parks are for profit and pay taxes. And selling nature at $15-$20/person per day is exploitation. Nature is for sale, they are making a pretty penny on it, and when someone else tries to develop land near them they launch a crusade to stop them. What a bunch of hypocrites!

    1. Sam E

      Yes, yes, it should all be free. They should budget millions of dollars every year as good stewards of the land, follow your vague standards of conservation, but not require a single dime from you. How convenient your thinking is.

      And how liberal your definition of “circus” and “amusement park” must be in order to include the Mohonk Preserve. There are only three spots on the entire 8,000+ acres that see “heavy” traffic (although nothing like that of an amusement park). Best to just avoid them and maybe show a little appreciation for how the Mohonk Preserve is caring for the rest of their land.

      1. FunkieGunkie

        Sam, please do not put words in my mouth. No one said it should be free. It is an amusement park at this point in time. There is no conservation if they are developing the land for ecotourism. Obviously you have not wandered off from your “3 spots” and cared to observe whats happening here lately. They have a long record of lying. Take a look at their tax filings and you will see where the money comes from and where it goes. You don’t get what you pay for or what they claim on their website. Members can’t even find parking spots and management just keeps looking the other direction. It’s all GREENWASHING. Why do they need to advertise on radio stations in Connecticut? What a waste of money!

        1. Sam E

          I am not interested in exploring the Mohonk Preserve’s finances, thanks. This article is really about banning nudity. Look, it is a private preserve. You don’t NEED to pay them anything. Instead, spend your time at Minnewaska right up the hill. You will have to pay the fee to get in, though.

          Can you point out where on the preserve is like an amusement park? Be specific. You seem to object to my referring to 3 spots. So list the places that you describe as a circus or amusement park. Or just admit that you are overstating things here for effect.

          1. FunkieGunkie

            I’m not a member and never will be. To answer your inquiry about amusement park instead of conservation area, the Trapps, Spring Farm, Pine Road, Coxing Trailhead, and River to Ridge Trails are all packed to the gills with tourists every weekend.. The Gardiner Fire Department responds weekly as well as other local First Responders. There is trash everywhere since the Covid scare everyone and their cousin comes here to play. It was getting worse and worse over the past decade but this year is off the charts . When the park was closed because of Covid people did not respect the land or management and still parked illegally to trespass. They were not bothered by the staff because management doesn’t care.

            The traffic has gotten horrible also. Driving around on the weekends is straight up DANGEROUS! I’m always driving defensively because of idiots either speeding or making U turns or pulling off the sides of the roads or driving half the speed limit. Almost got into a fatal accident on 44/55 two weeks ago.

            Most of the board lives in the city hence their lack of concern.

            You can enter Minnewaska on a bike or on foot and not pay anything, you only pay $10 to park a car not $15-20/person as Mohonk charges.

            And lastly, your defense of them and lack of interest or awareness in the big picture makes you seem aloof and naive.

  4. Sam E

    Seems like a handful of folks are upset about how this private preserve is run, and that things are changing. And yet there is very little appreciation being expressed here for the many ways in which the preserve has been made available to the public.

    Also, I have been to nude beaches in the north eastern US, Europe and Japan. And I have been to this wonderful spot on the Mohonk Preserve. By comparison, what is remarkably true about my experiences in the north east US is the number of voyeurs, exhibitionists, stealth photographers, and wannabe swingers, that I have stopped bothering to go. I can even see in two pro-nudist comments here the objectification of so-called beautiful bodies, and fat-shaming of another’s body. Nudist that are useful are people that don’t fall into these traps. If I show up will I qualify as someone’s eye candy, or fat? And what if I bring my 12 year old daughter? Would she be someone’s eye candy? Nah, I’ll wait until my next trip to Japan where the only staring is because I am so tall and white. I see a few enlightened people hear espousing the benefits of being nude and free, but I just don’t see the magic at this swimming hole. Instead, by comparison to other places I’ve been, it feels stressful and like there is a small clique of sort-of-hippies that think they own the space.

    But I must go back to my original point, which is that this is a private preserve that has opened it doors to the public in many ways. If you want to be naked in their property there are better ways of politicking for it than angrily attacking them in this comment section. In the meantime even MORE people will be comfortably enjoying this lovely swimming hole.

    1. FunkieGunkie

      A lot more then a handful of people disagree with the management, especially the locals. Yes it’s private so conflating private property with public land is wrong. The Mountain House, who also claims to be environmental land-stewards is also private property. The difference is one thing. One is a 5 star resort and the other is a not for profit real estate monopoly that has been swindling land from the locals for very long time (ie over a dozen lawsuits). In fact the Smiley Family has been doing the same since their grandiose beginnings. It’s all about the money, control of the land to buffer the Mountain House and protecting THEIR viewshed. Read the covenants they made with the 5 Towns. It was promised that the land would be accessible for a small fee. The Conservation Science budget is over $500,000/year and they haven’t published an ounce of research in decades. This park is out of control with little enforcement and the people who have lived here for years witness it everyday.

        1. FunkieGunkie

          They can and will do what they want. It’s private property. The Local seems to think it’s about sex in public, however they banned nudity not sex on their property. Another reason to not believe anything they say or do. I have no problem with nudity. The Local probably works for them.

  5. The Local

    “Further, public nudity is prohibited by New York State Law.”
    -Mohonk Preserve is privately owned.

    Uhhh…it’s a space frequented by the general public. That’s what the law is about. It doesn’t matter who owns the land. If you want nudity on your own land, that’s your business, the general public doesn’t hike through your scene. But it has trails accessed by the public. Get it? You don’t understand the law or words.

    I love nudity, love nude beaches, and I live very close to Split Rock; ie. a mile…so I know it well. And 95% of
    the time there’s sexual hookups within view of the public walking on trails. That’s what this is about. Just like cruising a rest area on an interstate, or in a public park, people complained because other people couldn’t just enjoy it withou having sex in public.

    That’s the deal.
    Not greed.
    Not money.
    Not any of the misdirected political frustration you’re heaping on this because you hate the current state of the world.

    1. FunkieGunkie

      So did they ban sex or nudity? You seem to be confused between the two acts. The nude area was downstream. How does that effect people having sex wherever they want. And furthermore who will encore this? Mohonk can’t even enforce illegal parking and trespassing at closed trailheads and non trailheads. I watch the staff drive right by and do nothing. And what about all the garbage from tourism?? It’s just get left on the sides of the roads and on the carraigeway. And your last thought was you projecting your hate for the current state of the world. Thanks for your opinions.

  6. Sir Paul

    “When you were young, and your heart was an open book; You use too say, live and let live, you know you did, you know you did, you know you did. But, in this ever changing world, in which we live in. Makes you give in and cry, say LIVE AND LET DIE!”

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