“Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.”
– E.B. White
Belleayre Beach at Pine Hill Lake is a treasure, with its beautiful white sand and the natural scenery surrounding it. Note that you can no longer use your Empire Passport to get in, but carloads cost $10, with additional pricing details for motorcycles et cetera on https://www.belleayre.com. The beach is a manageable size for all ages, and they offer rowboat, pedal boat and kayak rentals by the hour. This was the first place where our son swam on his own and jumped off a dock, perfecting his signature cannonball. Belleayre will host a Beach Party on August 15 with special kids activities, live music, beverages and a barbecue.
Belleayre is open through Labor Day weekend for swimming every day at 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on weekdays, and until 7 p.m. on weekends. Belleayre Beach is located at 33 Friendship Manor Road in Pine Hill, just off Route 28. For more information, call (845) 254-5202 or visit https://www.belleayre.com/summer/lake.htm.
Lake Taghkanic State Park
Lake Taghkanic State Park is another sandy beach where you can use your Empire Pass. Without an Empire Pass, the admission fee is $8 per vehicle. This beach is much larger, giving you lots of options for setting up your site, and they also offer boat rentals. Lake Taghkanic has a camping area on the other side of the park, and the snack bar has a wider selection than other sand-beach concession stands, including hot food and souvenirs. My kids have played with the toy boats that they got there longer than I ever would have expected.
Swimming is available every day through September 1 starting at 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. weekdays and until 7 p.m. on weekends. After our time at the beach, we pack up our stuff in the car and drive over to the other end of the parking lot to the playground. It has some unique features that we don’t usually see in community play areas, and our kids especially love going on the dizzy seats there.
Lake Taghkanic State Park is located at 1528 Route 82 in Ancram. For more information, call (518) 851-3631 or visit https://nysparks.com/parks/38, which includes a video tour of the park.
Kingston Point Beach
Kingston Point Beach is an easy stop and has a bathroom on-site, as well as a nearby playground. On this same end of the strip, you can visit Kingston Point Park with its scenic views and enjoyable hiking trails. Kingston Point Beach is located at 53 Delaware Avenue in Kingston. For more information including swimming hours, call (845) 331-1682 or visit https://www.kingston-ny.gov.
Sojourner Truth/Ulster Landing Park
Sojourner Truth/Ulster Landing Park is beautiful and well-cared-for with a gorgeous view of the river. It has easy parking, close access to the sand beach and well-placed restrooms, and the playground adds one more element of fun! Sojourner Truth/Ulster Landing Park is located at 916 Ulster Landing Road in Saugerties. For more information, call (845) 336-8484 or visit https://co.ulster.ny.us/downloads/ulsterlandingpark.pdf.
Saugerties Village Beach
The Saugerties Village Beach is a delightful small sand beach with an adjoining playground – plus it’s within walking distance of Krause’s Chocolates, just a short jaunt away. The Saugerties Village Beach is located at the end of Partition Street in Saugerties. For more information, call (845) 246-2919 or visit https://village.saugerties.ny.us.
Red Wing Park
Red Wing Park includes a large beach and an expansive park. Admission for non-resident adults is $12, $6 for children, and rates are half-price after 5 p.m. Additional pricing details are listed on the website. Red Wing Park is located at 11 Old Farm Road off Route 82 in East Fishkill. For more information, call (845) 221-9191 or visit https://www.eastfishkillny.org.
Black Creek’s child-scale treat
Harry Potter has Platform 9 ¾; Legos have couch cushions; my kids and I disappear to Scenic Hudson’s Black Creek Preserve.
Black Creek Preserve is this little portal of awesomeness right off Route 9W in Esopus. In literally one minute, you go from the parking lot to the trail-of-instant-gratification: rushing stream, gorgeous little suspension bridge and beautiful woods. It’s so accessible, so doable that it feels like a magical escape. It’s hiking without the commitment.
We discovered this treasure because I was driving along Route 9W looking for something brief, interesting and enjoyable (and preferably free) to do with our son during our daughter’s nearby Barefoot Dance class. I had driven past the Black Creek Preserve signs for years and never knew how accessible it was. I wondered if Black Creek meant dark and cavelike, and if Preserve meant “Don’t go here because we’re preserving the land.” I muscled past every ounce of I’d-better-not-need-a-tent-for-this resistance (the road shares a driveway with an enclave of vacation cottages) and drove in.
Everything is right there: the parking lot, a map kiosk (I love the reassurance of You Are Here-style visuals) and the trailhead, just steps away through a sweet little tree-branch-constructed archway. We love the variety of walkway terrain, from forest floor to step-stones to wooden planks; it all adds to the enchantment.
Most of the forest hikes that I’ve done require at least a half-day commitment, between assembling our gear, driving there, hiking, breaking for lunch, then heading back. Instead of “being” our day, sometimes I like having that woodland experience woven into our day, between playdates and karate. I feel like Black Creek is tailor-made for those times when I just want to get away from it all, but I only have an hour (because dinner’s not going to make itself).
As we spend time on the trail, I notice that the perceived wall between Us and the Land melts away, and we shift gears from doing an outing or a hike to just being in the woods. One step leads to the next; leaves and icy frost crunch under our sneakers. We are in it. We become part of it. We are connected to it. This part of the world expands us, but also grounds us in our own being as part of a larger whole.
My kids care about these woods because they are getting to know them, step by step, stick by stick, instead of being another blur along the drive on 9W. It’s part of my children’s inner landscape because it is part of their outer landscape. That is why we come. Such power and possibility in such a short walk that you could do on your way to the mall!
Visit https://www.scenichudson.org or call (845) 473-4440 for the Black Creek Parkquest information guide about trail wildlife, including a special space for the secret stamp in the Quest box at the end of the Blue Trail. By the way, Black Creek got its name from the streambed’s dark coloration, from the tannic acids leached by the neighboring hemlock trees.
Erica Chase-Salerno sends birthday wishes to her son this week! She and her husband, Mike, live in New Paltz with their two children: the inspirations behind hudsonvalleyparents.com. She can be reached at [email protected].