Esopus Bend Nature Preserve is a unique 161-acre preserve located partially within both the village and town of Saugerties along a dramatic bend in the Esopus Creek less than a mile from the Hudson River. The preserve borders Barclay Heights, a large housing development built in the 1950s, and is visible to 10,000 travelers a day who cross the Esopus Creek traveling on Rt. 9W into or out of the Village of Saugerties.
The diversity of the biology of Esopus Bend is echoed in the diversity of the land itself. A lowland meadows and state-designated wetlands lie in a flood plain to the east. Sloping forests rim the northern reaches, and a flood plain forest leads to hemlock cover in the south. The carriage trail lies along a Lower Devonian limestone ridge, and the entire preserve is interlaced with drainage channels and swales that add to the complexity and mystery of the natural environment. The shape and diversity of the topography seems to echo the twelve-sided carapace of one of its most characteristic inhabitants, the snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina), which lives and nests in the wetlands.
To access the preserve from 9W in the Barclay Heights section of Saugerties traveling south from the village, make a right on Overbaugh Street, make a left onto Simmons Drive, a right onto Appletree Drive and a left onto Shady Lane. There is a parking lot that can accommodate a few cars. Because of the very limited parking at the entrance to the preserve, visitors are encouraged to park in the Simmons parking lot on 9W, or at the Saugerties village beach and carpool to the Shady Lane entrance. Visitors can also launch their kayaks and canoes from the Saugerties village beach at the foot of Partition Street and paddle the three and one-half miles to the rapids. Along the first mile, visitors can view the preserve from the water,examine the wetland cove, spot a turtle sunning on a log, observe blue herons along the shoreline or in flight above the water.