After a family-friendly woodland hike, whet your appetite while enjoying magnificent views at a prime picnic spot on the river's edge.
ESOPUS, Ulster County (96 acres)—Esopus Meadows Preserve is great for introducing children to the glories of nature along the Hudson River. Its variety of trails allows you to tailor a trek to the stamina of young legs. You can begin by hiking through a rolling forest landscape alive with birdcalls, the chatter of small mammals and a gurgling stream, or follow the shoreline to a dramatic lookout. Whichever route you choose, arrive at the preserve's Hudson River Greenway Water Trail site at the midpoint of your outing. Its pavilion and tables are perfect for a rest and a picnic. The views here are well nigh perfect, too. Esopus Meadows Lighthouse looms in the distance downriver, while grand Mills Mansion is slightly to the left across the Hudson. But where are the meadows? They're underwater. The place got its name because farmers brought cattle to feast on plants growing in the shallow offshore tidal flat, now a prime breeding ground and nursery for fish. The cows are long gone, but you're likely to see a profusion of boats — from pleasure craft to football-field-sized container ships. And if you're really lucky, you may spot a bald eagle. Esopus Meadows Preserve is home of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater's Tideline Education Program.
When to visit
Year-round daily dawn to dusk. Allow a minimum of 2 hours.
Crossing the Mid-Hudson Bridge from east to west, take Route 9W north for 10.3 miles. Right on River Road. Proceed 1.3 miles. Entrance on right