A few months ago, after visiting a friend in Saugerties, I was driving south down Route 9W in Ulster County when I noticed a sign for the Black Creek Preserve. I recognized the name, but couldn’t recall much else about the place. But it was one of those first warm spring days — my jacket had already been flung off onto the passenger seat — so I pulled into the parking lot. Almost immediately, I saw a sign indicating this was a Scenic Hudson property — and I knew that I was in for a good time. In my (admittedly somewhat limited) experience, when Scenic Hudson takes over a park or open space, it’s going to be fun to explore.
And I was right. This charming and compact 130-acre park offers a whole range of outdoor experiences — and you can cover the whole area in less than two hours. My hike started off on a dramatic suspension bridge (no, not that dramatic; it wasn’t swinging wildly or near imminent collapse); the trail then headed steeply uphill for about five minutes, then passed through a lovely hemlock forest punctuated only by a few ponds. In fact, the only sound that caught my attention was the splash of a frog flinging himself with abandon into the water.
But the highlight of my hike was certainly the point where the trail lead back down toward the Hudson River — and the lovely beach area that seemed, at least at that moment, as magical as an unexplored cove on a deserted island. Scenic Hudson has installed some benches, but I chose to sit on the ground, listening to the waves gently beating against the shore and gazing across at one of the grand old mansions on the other side. Soon, I was back in my car, headed home to Beacon — but feeling completely invigorated by my surprise hourlong jaunt.
Scenic Hudson has preserved many beautiful spots like this all around the Hudson Valley, and I, for one, am grateful. Mt. Beacon is another Scenic Hudson property that I love to explore (although be warned, scaling the mountain is much more strenuous than strolling around Black Creek). In fact, getting out into the great outdoors is one of my favorite things about living in this region.
Of course, as much as I love immersing myself in nature, I realize that development is vital to the success of our local economy. I was honestly thrilled to learn that there was going to be a “green” hotel and conference center built along the Beacon waterfront — and disappointed when much of that project was put on hold due to the economy. Our cover story, “Both Sides Now,” outlines all of the major issues regarding development and preservation. Read about how our local leaders — preservationists, developers, and government officials — are setting the agenda for how best to use our most precious natural resource in the years to come.
Olivia J. Abel
Editor in Chief