Putnam County: ”Where the country begins” pretty much sums up my view every day as I traverse this beautiful area. At every turn there is a reservoir, farm, trail or the stunning vista of the Hudson Highlands. Less development and fewer traffic lights showcase nature’s bounty uniquely during each season and I never tire of taking it all in. I often stop and take pictures on my way to and from work and they never look the same. I am acutely aware of my surroundings rather than just focusing on getting from point A to point B. This county is a tiny little oasis with diverse natural resources to enjoy; a few of my all time favorite diversions are right here.
The Great Swamp
Encompassing more than 6,000 acres in Putnam and Dutchess counties, The Great Swamp is an ecological treasure: a unique wildlife habitat, waterway, aquifer recharge area and outdoor education environmental park. There are several access points and many ways to experience the diversity of this mix of 20 miles of wetlands and the Appalachian Trail. At several entry points you can canoe and kayak, others hunt and fish and also hike around the perimeter. This biosphere is best experienced during every season and both on land and by boat. One visit is not enough.
Why I love it:
Because you can paddle a canoe or kayak in The Great Swamp pretty much all year and experience an intimate view of wildlife and foliage even in the dead of winter. Because in much of Putnam County our kids visit The Great Swamp as a school field trip, immersing them in the area’s distinctive ecology.
The Putnam County Trailway
The Putnam County Trailway is a 12-mile bike and pedestrian trail that follows the former right-of-way of the Putnam Division of the New York Central Railroad. Beginning at the Westchester-Putnam border and ending in Brewster, the trail traces the route of the “Old Put,” as it was known, which carried passengers and freight from the Bronx to Brewster from 1881-1958. The trailway or “bike path,” with multiple access points, winds through a “tunnel of trees” consisting of mixed hardwoods, over streams, lakes and ponds, while sharing a habitat with wildlife and birds. The foliage and views are beautiful during every season.
Why I love it:
Because watching people enter and exit the path on bikes, running, pushing strollers or walking always reminds me of how our community embraces a healthy outdoor lifestyle. Because along the path there are benches that honor residents that people anonymously decorate for the holidays.
Chuang Yen Monastery
2020 Route 301, Carmel
The CYM is located on a beautiful and serene 225-acre campus in Western Kent designed by the legendary architect I.M. Pei. It is home to the Buddhist Association of America, founded in 1964. There are many things to do when visiting CYM, including tours, meditation, classes, enjoying a vegetarian lunch, taking in The Great Buddha Hall, home of the largest Buddha in the Western Hemisphere, and checking out the Woo-Ju Library, gift shop, gardens, paths and Seven Jewels Lake. The CYM, dedicated in every aspect to world peace, is surrounded by dense woods and foliage; it’s an ideal spot to commune with nature while taking a spiritual journey.
Why I love it:
Because this incredible spot is practically in my backyard. Because as I walk the grounds throughout the year, as the seasons change, I cannot believe all of this natural and spiritual beauty is so completely accessible and inspiring.