The Ruth Reynolds Glunt Nature Preserve is named for the woman who championed the preservation of Hudson River lighthouses and envisioned a “wildlife refuge” for the wetland area adjacent to the Saugerties Lighthouse.
The Nature Preserve consists of 15 acres of wooded grounds and tidal wetlands located at the confluence of the Espous Creek with the Hudson River. The area is supported by a sandbar comprised of dredged sediments from the channelization projects starting in 1888 when the Esopus Creek was deepened to improve ship access into the Saugerties Harbor. The resulting peninsula now offers a scenic half-mile trail to the Lighthouse. The trail serves as an enjoyable hike for bird watching, boat spotting, and admiring the changes of the seasons. The trail surface is gravel, earth, or sand with wooden boardwalks and bridges across wetland areas.
It’s important to note that the peninsula is subject to tidal flooding, making portions of the trail impassable at certain times of day. Please always check the tide table before your visit so you’re prepared for what lies ahead. You’ll also find a tide table posted in the kiosk located at the entrance to the trail. Waterproof, sturdy footwear is strongly recommended.
Home to nearly 100 species of flora, the trail’s unique plant life includes trees, shrubs, vines, herbs, sedges, grasses and ferns. Over the years, the area has seen an increase in exotic invasive species such as the Eurasian water chestnut, colloquially known as devil’s heads or cow heads. Growing in presence along eastern waterways, the water chestnut blooms restrict light and cut off oxygen to the surrounding waters, making it difficult for native plants and fish to share the same space. The area also hosts the Purple Loosestrife perennial weed, one of the most invasive non-native species in North American wetlands. While offering a beautiful splash of color to the landscape, the shrub is prolific in its spread and tends to push out the opportunity for native plants to flourish. This shrub is thought to have been accidentally introduced by the shipping industry, as often rocky soil dredged from European wetlands was carried in ships to help maintain balance during long, rough voyages across the ocean. Upon arrival, the seed-rich soil was released into the coastal waters.
The peninsula is also an important habitat for breeding and migrating birdlife. Keep an eye out for nesting bald eagles, great blue herons, gulls, geese, ducks and hundreds more.