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The Huguenot Trail

By Adrienne K. Wiese

The Huguenot Path follows along the bank of the Wallkill (Wall River) through an area which played an important part in our ancestorsí lives. The path is easily accessible from the road leading to the New Paltz sewage treatment plant where parking is available. A short distance south toward the highway bridge takes one to the old Indian fording place where our ancestors crossed over to the fields on the west bank flats. Continuing northward along the river, a wide well-mown path takes us past the community gardens where the effects of annual alluvial flooding are evident in the lush garden crops grown by local residents. The rich soil also causes rampant growth of weeds - nettles are in abundance, and in the wet areas phragmites tower above the tallest of menís heads; stick to the paths. Gigantic trees are found near the oxbow outlet where the remains of the old Huguenot dam may be seen. The dam was used to trap fish and for ice harvesting.

A circular trail leads through swamp and upland forest. It passes the oxbow, an ancient river channel now cut off from the river, where loosestrife grows in abundance. The trail is about three miles in length, including a short dead-end along the river and a boardwalk across swampland to an exit north of the Freer-Lowe House, beyond the bend in Huguenot Street.

Relax at the picnic tables near the gardens, stretch your legs and bring your binoculars to observe the wildlife. Enjoy spring wildflowers or those of fall when loosestrife is especially lush. Step back in time and imagine the important place this quiet river bank played in the lives of our ancestors.

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