Skip to content

Great Swamp

Dutchess & Putnam counties

Why we love it

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself exclaiming “Serenity now!” when winding your way through this 6,000-acre freshwater wetland, one of New York’s largest. It offers more than 14 miles of navigable, often tree-shaded waters that you’ll share with turtles, herons, dragonflies and maybe even a beaver or otter. What you won’t see are many signs of civilization—amazing since you’re just 70 miles from New York City. Another plus: The water’s flow is gentle, meaning you’ll barely struggle on the return trip through this primeval wilderness. (Optimum paddling conditions — i.e., when water is highest — occur in spring and early summer. And never paddle without a life vest.)

More to explore

In nearby Pawling, don’t miss the Olive Gunnison Natural History Museum, located in the basement of the imposing Akin Free Library. It boasts an old-fashioned but fascinating collection of stuffed birds, butterflies and oddities (e.g., a shrunken head) collected by a local homemaker in the mid-1900s.


  • Long or short paddles through wetland wilderness
  • Great variety of wildlife

Directions, hours, etc.: