This land, to be kept forever wild by the volunteer not-for-profit group Mill Brook Preserve, Inc., is like a magical world within the heart of town. There are pine groves and streams, multiple ponds and beaver dams and lodges as well as wild mushrooms and old-growth trees split in half by lightning that somehow came back to life.
As we entered the thick of the coyote mating season, it was fitting that a recent Thursday night – February 14, Valentine’s Day – saw a packed Lecture Center on the SUNY New Paltz campus for a presentation titled “Coexisting with Coyotes,” with Melissa Gillmer, head zookeeper of the Trailside Museums and Zoo at Bear Mountain State Park.
As I look up, the world around me glistening, I begin to think that this feels like stumbling upon a Christmaslike celebration right smack in the middle of the woods.
Although upstate New York is a far cry from the rugged wilderness of South Dakota, the name Badlands still got caught in the gums like an adventure born of grit and sandstone.
Atop the historic hamlet of Cragsmoor, home of the oldest artist colony founded in America, sits Sam’s Point: a 5,000-acre preserve that boasts not only ice caves and wild berries and a rare dwarf pine ecosystem, but also the highest point of the entire Shawangunk Ridge.
If the Shawangunk Ridge and its vast ecosystem are known as one of the “Last Great Places,” then the Minnewaska Distance Swimmers’ Association beach is one of the “last great destinations” for water-lovers.
The 251-acre park features mansion ruins and Hudson River views.
Just a stone’s throw from the heart of the bustling Village of New Paltz lies an oxbow, a river, meadows, labyrinthlike paths, contemplative benches and a breathtaking view of the Shawangunk Ridge.
Getting lost, close to civilization.