Swamps, Trails, and Other Things

Esopus: Shaupeneak Trials

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 (Post Office on northwest 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, 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.

Town of Lloyd-Highland

Chodikee Lake. Take 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.

Rosendale, New Paltz, and Gardiner

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.


(Part of an earlier article, Favorite Haunts, in About Town 2000 by Vivian Yess Wadlin.)