Where To: Saugerties

The Saugerties Lighthouse, (photo by Beth Blis)

Saugerties Lighthouse

Truly off the beaten path is one of Saugerties’ most identifiable landmarks, curiously one of its best kept secrets. The Saugerties Lighthouse, built in 1869 where the Esopus Creek joins the Hudson River, has opened its doors as a bead-and-breakfast, providing visitors a breathtaking look at the area from the moment they open their eyes in the morning.

“It’s the only lighthouse on this section of the Hudson River that’s accessible by land,” said lighthousekeeper Patrick Landewe. “It provides a unique perspective and is a quiet retreat. You’re surrounded by water, and it’s along a nature trail.”

Due to both its age and its location, the Saugerties Lighthouse has a long and winding history, including a move to automation in the mid-1950s; the local push to save the building from demolition by the U.S. Coast Guard and eventual designation on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979; the formation of the Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy in 1985; and a four-year renovation project which ended with the tower light’s restoration on August 4, 1990. The appeal of the historic structure extends well beyond the worldwide enthusiasts of lighthouses. And beyond its beauty and history it’s also more than just a little cool that you can actually stay there overnight.

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“We’re basically one of the few lighthouses on the Eastern Seaboard where you can stay overnight,” said Landewe. “For the bed-and-breakfast, most of our guests are coming from the greater Metro-area, Long Island and New York City, and some have come worldwide. Many of our day visitors are local.”

The trail is only open during daylight hours. For more information, visit www.saugertieslighthouse.com.

 

Retail shopping in Saugerties

There’s no Main Street in the region more at the heart of the great American village than the retail thoroughfare in the middle of Saugerties. While Saugerties’ Main (and Partition) has less hustle than Fifth Avenue and less bustle than Saville Row, you’re liable to find everything you’re looking for with a comfortable down-home flair in Saugerties.

For decades, Saugerties has cultivated a reputation as a destination for antiques shopping. While that remains true today, an influx of trendy boutiques, new and used bookshops and other niche retail shops have resulted in Saugerties being named one of America’s Coolest Small Towns in the September 2009 issue of Budget Travel Magazine.

“I once overheard a customer say that she felt like she was at home in the English countryside,” said Daisy Bolle, co-owner of Dig, a hip boutique popular with locals and tourists alike. “Saugerties has that quaint European feeling to it that is unique to the Hudson Valley.”

If you want a sense of just how unique Saugerties really is, try to name another small town in New York where two chocolate shops can not only survive but also thrive. In the village, you can shop for shoes and bicycles, jewelry and crafts, along charming sidewalks that personify the classic small town experience.

“I love shopping in Saugerties because of all the small businesses,” said Bolle. “You know that everything was hand-picked by somebody, and you can hear a story of why it is so special. People love their little towns and are really starting to understand how important it is to support them.”

 

HITS

Since its inaugural season in 2004, Horse Shows in the Sun (HITS) has been an integral part of the Saugerties landscape. The equestrian center continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Spring is the first opportunity for horses and riders to strut their stuff.

Though all eyes are on the HITS championship weekend in September, activity begins with the first week 0of qualifying events in late May. Even before that happens, the vast HITS complex will be astir with herculean preparations for the arrival of competitors and spectators. The network of HITS employees, many of whom spend the winter months at the company’s other shows across the country, will be busy with preparations.

“When spring arrives in the Hudson Valley, it means everyone is going to come together at our headquarters in Saugerties for what is the biggest horse show in the Northeast,” said Danette Kadlic, HITS spokesperson. “This summer in Saugerties there are going to be more horses showing than anywhere else in the United States.”

In addition to new classes and divisions, HITS will offer 14 qualifying events for the 2012 Pfizer Million Grand Prix. The season’s final weekend will also see $500,000 and $250,000 hunter class competitions.

As a purely spectator endeavor, the events at HITS are symbolic of the grace and majesty of the equine form and the relationship between horse and rider.

Kadlic said it often seems as though horse racing is more familiar to people than jumping or dressage. “When people come and see what these horses and riders are doing, it’s pretty awe-inspiring,” she said. “If you appreciate the sport, you’re going to see some of the best up-and-coming riders in the United States, and you’re going to see some of the best professional riders competing as well.”

HITS opens its 2012 season on Wednesday, May 23 and runs for three consecutive weeks before returning to local action in mid-July. During the year, HITS hosts special events like Taste of HITS-on-the-Hudson and Kids’ Day. For information visit www.hitsshows.com.

 

Communing with nature

Nestled in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains and skirting the Hudson River, Saugerties offers ample options for those who feel the springtime is the right time for communing with nature. From hiking trails to kayaking on the Hudson River, Saugerties is a destination for anyone wanting to truly feel as though they can get away from it all.

The 161-acre Esopus Bend Nature Preserve was opened nearly a decade ago. It’s a sprawling testament to the majesty of nature literally in Saugerties’ own back yard. The preserve, embraced by the winding Esopus Creek, features four major trails, with a few trail spurs which lead directly to the shores of the Esopus. Access wetlands and beaver dams, waterfalls and in Shady Glen – along the lowest point of the Schroeder Trail Loop – possibly the naturally coolest spot in all of Saugerties.

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The entrance to the Esopus Bend Nature Preserve is located on Shady Lane in Barclay Heights. For more information visit www.esopuscreekconservancy.org.

Esopus Creek Conservancy recently joined with Scenic Hudson and the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill to open to the public the Falling Waters Preserve, a 192-acre property abutting the Hudson River. The land, owned by the Dominican Sisters, was made available to the general public in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and the environment.

Falling Waters’ 2.4-mile loop takes nature lovers and birdwatchers through a wooded path and a hayfield, with spurs leading off to the Hudson and a pair of waterfalls from which the preserve draws its name. The preserve is located on Dominican Lane in Glasco. For information visit www.esopuscreekconservancy.org.

Falling Waters is accessible along the Hudson by kayak, with boat launch access from the Glasco mini park, and for more adventurous paddlers, the George Terpening Memorial Park in Malden and the Tivoli waterfront, directly across the Hudson.

Kayaking in Saugerties isn’t exclusive to the Hudson River. The Esopus Creek is routinely used for kayaks and canoes setting out from the Saugerties village beach.