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Nuclear Lake

Pawling (Dutchess County)

Why we love it

Don’t be alarmed by the name, the result of an accident that occurred at a nearby, long-gone nuclear research facility. Any radioactivity was removed, leaving behind what at least one through-hiker on the Appalachian Trail (which you’ll be following most of the way) deemed the prettiest lake along the entire 2,200-mile span. Hyperbole or not, it is stunning, secluded and just a tad over 2 miles from the trailhead. The hike takes a modicum of effort amply rewarded with some nifty, kid-friendly woodland scenery — streams, huge rocks, etc. — and prime lakefront picnic spots.


  • Moderately strenuous
  • Great for kids 10+
  • Beautiful woodland scenery

Directions, hours, etc.: