Saugerties, justly famous for its active recreational facilities, has in the past generation added three unique opportunities for passive recreation. First, thanks to the tenacity of a local group of people organized as a conservancy, came the dramatic adventure of the walk through a tidal marsh to the Saugerties Lighthouse, where a keeper now operates an exclusive tiny bed-and-breakfast establishment at the conjunction of the Esopus Creek and the Hudson River. After that came the Esopus Bend Nature Preserve between Barclay Heights and the village, where the visitor can take a variety of walks through 161 acres of an extremely varied ecology. Finally, last year the Dominican Sisters property along the Hudson added another dimension to the publicly available natural beauty of the town.
Esopus Bend Preserve
Visible to thousands of travelers each day as they make their way along Route 9W over the bridge in the village, the 161-acre Esopus Bend Nature Preserve nevertheless remains one of the better-kept secrets in Saugerties. It’s open to the public daily from dawn to dusk, but the single Shady Lane entrance — an obscure little street at the far edge of a labyrinthine Barclay Heights subdivision — is easy to miss and has limited parking. Still, savvy Saugertiesians have been making use of the gorgeous trails — it shares a mile of shoreline with the upper Esopus — for walking and running since it opened to the public in 2003.
The preserve is managed by the non-profit Esopus Creek Conservancy. Its president, Susan Bolitzer, recommended the Schroeder Trail. Named for the property’s previous owners, the 1.2-mile trail follows an old farm road and footpath down to and along the Esopus Creek, looping back over a historic Carriage Road once used by travelers to and from Kingston to cross the creek using a scow ferry. The entire property slants down toward the creek. It takes about 45 minutes to walk the basic loop; twice that amount if also take the beautiful but steeper South Trail, another loop which splits off about a quarter of the way through.
“I do the Schroeder Trail loop because I feel it’s a real aerobic thing,” said Bolitzer. “You have to go down to go into it, and you have to go up again.”
The loop includes one of the “chillest” places in Saugerties: Shady Glen. “It’s a beautiful spot,” said Bolitzer. “It’s low, and there’s a stream running through it, also. And it’s cooler than any place on the preserve, and probably in Saugerties.”
Though many locals still call it Schroeder Farm, the property hasn’t been tilled in over 40 years. Wild turkeys nest there now, foxes and coyotes patrol the woods, songbirds hold court in the meadow, and wetland birds nest along the shore.