Favorite Haunts

A few my favorite haunts and some things I’ve yet to try…such as, the new hiking trail that has opened in Esopus.

Shaupeneak Trail Coming from the south, Shaupeneak Trialhead is on Old Post Road (a left off Route 9W just north of Black Creek Apartments and Black Creek Road). Then, cross the railroad tracks and it’s on your right.

Burroughs Sanctuary and Slabsides While you are in this neck of the woods, go south on 9W to the intersection of Floyd Ackert Road (Marcel’s Restaurant on southwest corner) Turn west and look for signs on your left for Slabsides and the Burroughs Sanctuary. If you have never heard of Burroughs, a visit here could spark a lifelong “friendship.” The naturalist’s love of nature is not difficult to understand once you have sat on the porch at Slabsides. Leave your mark in the Visitors’ Book and you’ll be sure to return.

Black Creek and Area Swamps (According to Warren G. Sherwood’s History of the Town of Lloyd, it was originally called the Swartekill for its black waters which are colored by its flow through the muck lands.) Beyond that, swamps have a tainted image from pictures like African Queen and The Creature from The Black Lagoon. You’re always expecting something pathetically repulsive to surface suddenly, inches from your face.

In reality, our swamps are filled with life forms most of us find quite fascinating. Beavers have turned many small area streams into ponds and in the process created acres of dead trees and swampy areas teeming with life. You can watch beaver; muskrat; many kinds of ducks; herons and smaller birds including Kingfishers and Redwing Black Birds; Canada Geese; turtles; and several kinds of dragon fly in most area swamps. If you’re really patient and very fortunate, you may see an otter, osprey, or other bird of prey. Swamps do have snakes, snapping turtles, ticks and mosquitoes, so keep to the roads.

In addition to all this fauna, these swamps have flora galora. Ferns, skunk cabbage, the ubiquitous rebel weed, a.k.a. loostrife, are a few of the plants easily identified. Poison Ivy sufferers should learn to identify one more: Jewel Weed. Juice from the stem and leaf is the Poison Ivy folk remedy. Better yet, learn to identify Poison Ivy–it’s everywhere. Another reason to stick to the road.

My favorite swamps are located on Loughran Lane (Esopus); bridge over Black Creek on Black Creek Road between Plutarch and North Eltings Corners Roads; Plutarch Road at bridge over Black Creek; North Ohioville Road, about a half mile north of Van Nostrand Road; and Old New Paltz Road between Plutarch and North Elting Corners Roads. All are visible from public highways. I know you wouldn’t trespass.

Klyne Esopus Museum The Klyne Esopus Historical Society Museum is in Ulster Park on the west side of Route 9W. The museum is open Saturday, Sunday, and Monday 1-4pm and on Fridays for group tours scheduled in advance-658-8719. Personal favorites include arrowheads, slaves’ gallery, and local bricks. Small museum shop. This is area history and natural history at a very personal level. Exhibits change, so stop by often. Any donation helps them keep the lights on.

Chodikee Lake, Chodikee Lake Road north off Route 299, Town of Lloyd. Public fishing through the Fish and Wildlife Management Act. Use regulations are posted. This lake is rated good for large mouth Bass, fair for Chain Pickerel, and good for pan fish (all those little guys like perch, bluegills, and crappies). Even if you don’t fish, take a boat on this lake to look at the scenery. It’s a treat.

Wallkill Valley Rail Trail runs through New Paltz and crosses Main Street near the Wallkill River. If you travel south, you can go to Gardiner. North, you’ll end up in Rosendale. Either way, you’ll see a lot of rural beauty.

Huguenot Street This national historic landmark is located on the western edge of the Village of New Paltz. The site comprises a collection of house museums with construction dates from 1692 through 1890. Adjacent to the site is the Huguenot Trail and Wildlife Sanctuary. Guided tours of the homes and other buildings are available. 255-1660. Fees. A stroll on the street is worth the trip. Unique architecture and gardens.

Terwilliger House and Locust Lawn (Route 32 South of New Paltz). The Terwilliger house was built by Evert Terwilliger and his wife, Sarah Freer in 1738. This house is a fine example of early Hudson Valley vernacular architecture. Nearby is Locust Lawn, built by Josiah Hasbrouck, lieutenant in the Revolutionary War, member of the House of Representatives during the terms of Adams and Jefferson. Furnishing in the home reflect the family’s long tenure and cultivated tastes. Little Wings Wildlife Sanctuary is adjacent. May-September Wednesday-Sunday 9:30am-4pm. 255-1889, or 255-1660. Fees.

Mohonk Preserve (Mountain Rest Road, New Paltz). The Preserve provides eco-education and appreciation tours and classes. For a day fee you can hike its trails. Parking is often a problem on weekends, so you might want to save this experience for weekdays, if you can. 255-0919

Gomez Mill House (Mill House Road, Marlboro) Forebears of the beaver augmenting our swamps probably provided the pelts traded by Louis Moses Gomez, in the trading post he established at this site. The Jewish Gomez fled the Spanish Inquisition, landing in American in 1714. His home, now known as The Gomez Mill House, is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the oldest extant Jewish structure in the United States. The house and grounds are open to the public. 236-3126

Trolley Museum of New York (On the Rondout in Kingston). Take a trolley ride along the waterfront and enjoy the museum. Trace trolley history and its ramifications. 331-3399

Hudson River Maritime Museum (On the Rondout, Kingston).A living museum with artifacts relating to the history of the Hudson River. From ice harvesting to shad fishing, and from paddle wheelers to ice boats, you can satisfy every curiosity about the Hudson and its influence on who we are today. 338-0071

Volunteer Firemen’s Hall and Museum (Fair Street, Kingston). Showcases fire equipment and memorabilia. Trucks, uniforms, photos, badges, and firefighting history housed in a lovely original hall. 331-0866 or 331-4065.