Black Creek, located in the Town of Esopus, is one of the few (if not the only) Hudson River tributaries that were never industrialized or developed, thanks to much of the surrounding terrain, which is too rugged for farming or the construction of houses. Herring still run up its clear waters in the spring, and trout dart among its submerged rocks. The creek was much-visited and admired by John Burroughs, whose cabin, Slabsides – protected by the John Burroughs Association, a private non-profit organization – is located close by. Because of the waterway’s unusual biological richness – it provides habitat for an endangered species, the Northern cricket frog – Scenic Hudson has targeted Black Creek as one its priorities in its “Saving the Land that Matters Most” campaign, which was launched in 2007 with the goal of preserving 65,000 acres over the next decade.
In the mid-1990s, Scenic Hudson opened Black Creek Preserve, 130 acres of forested land along the Hudson River at the Creek’s mouth. Since then it has vastly increased that acreage, and now protects 1,200 acres associated with Black Creek. The organization recently announced its latest acquisition: 100 acres of forest and non-tidal wetlands that run along a creek tributary, contiguous to a 600-acre parcel also owned by Scenic Hudson, which is situated north of Chodikee Lake.
There is no trail to this inland area and the land is best explored by water, according to Seth McKee, Scenic Hudson’s land conservation director. The Lake is accessible from Route 299 (via North Chodikee Lake Road). You can launch a canoe at the landing and paddle north, past a children’s camp and state incarceration center for youth, to reach the Creek and follow its meanders for nearly an hour through the forest before reaching a waterfall.
McKee said that the falls can also be approached by foot, by walking in from Floyd Ackert Road near the Slabsides preserve. Scenic Hudson has not constructed any formal trails, however. If bushwhacking isn’t your thing, then you may want instead to visit Black Creek Preserve (north of the Marist Brothers on 9W). A suspended bridge provides a nice overlook of the Creek, a wide, shallow expanse trilling over black rocks. The trail swoops down a forested bluff past several vernal pools to the river, where a rock-filled beach is the perfect launching place for skipping stones. The Preserve attracts a variety of breeding and migrating birds as well as otters – and is just waiting for your exploration, now that spring is almost here.
For more on these public parks, or other lands protected by Scenic Hudson, log on to www.scenichudson.org or call (845) 473-4440.