Esopus Meadows Preserve Loop Hike Offers a Pretty Walk in the Woods

A picnic table is under a shelter with views of the Hudson River; a redbud tree is in bloom in the background.

We were looking for a pretty hike near the Hudson River. The promise of a lighthouse was an added draw — so we headed to Esopus Meadows Park for a relatively easy hike that offered a few lookout points onto the Hudson. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get out in nature for a bit for a relaxing walk in the woods.

Esopus Meadows Preserve is a 96-acre riverside nature park offering 2 miles of hiking trails. The trail is a relatively easy hike with a few lookout points on the Hudson River we made it a loop by taking the blue to yellow to red trails. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get out in nature for a nice relaxing day.

We started by walking along the shore line, snapping some quick picks of the Esopus lighthouse. A portion of the river edge trail has been rerouted under the tree canopy to permit a shoreline restoration project. We hiked as far as the river edge path permitted, but then reverse until we found another blue blazed intersection that extended into the trees.

But where are the meadows? Signage informed us they’re underwater. Farmers once brought their cattle here to feast on plants growing in the offshore tidal flats.

Esopus Meadows Lighthouse, located on the west side of the river channel but entirely surrounded by water, is nicknamed “Maid of the Meadows,” although it’s usually just referred to as the Esopus Light or Middle Hudson River Light. It’s still active.

Construction of the first lighthouse on the site began in 1838 and it was lit a year later. By 1867, however, the building was heavily damaged by flood and ice and a new one was built. The current lighthouse was completed in 1871 and is the last wooden lighthouse on the Hudson and the only Hudson lighthouse with a clapboard exterior.

Getting there: 257 River Rd, Ulster Park, NY

Hours: daylight

Website: Esopus Meadows Preserve

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