On June 19th the Mohonk Preserve made an announcement about a part of the park that has caused a stir among some of its regular visitors. This past Friday according to a post on change.org signs went up and a statement was issued that there is no nudity allowed in a part of the preserve known for being a favorite of naturalist and the LGBTQ community for decades. Split Rock is no longer clothing optional. The change.org post is trying to gather enough signatures to have the Preserve reverse it's decisions.

Coxing Trailhead is now officially open for hiking and along with COVID-19 visiting protocols, the Mohonk Preserve is also telling visitors that nudity is prohibited in the area downstream from Split Rock. In the past, this has been a popular area for folks who enjoy relaxing and wading in the water with clothing optional. The fact is nudity was never actually allowed in this area of the preserve. It was just more of a thing that happened over the years that people came to enjoy.

Speaking from past experience, I have been visiting that area of the Shawangunks since the late '70s and there were many spots over the years where people went with the clothing-optional idea. Back when Lake Minnewaska still had the remnants of a hotel on the property you could head up to the lake and stumble over nude sunbathers and nude swimmers all along the rocks. Of course, that was the '70s, right?

On the Mohonk Preserve's official website mohonkpreserve.org under the Coxing Trailhead section the preserve has explained how and why it came to the decision to enforce this new policy. They also make it a point to state that New York State Law prohibits public nudity. So if you think about it they aren't really changing a policy they are just finally not going to look the other way.

In an email that I received today, from a representative of the preserve, when I request information on the new policy they shared this statement:

IMPORTANT CHANGE TO USE: AREA DOWNSTREAM OF SPLIT ROCK

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.

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