For years now I’ve wanted to visit the Saugerties Lighthouse in Saugerties, New York. Ever since I read an article on it in the New York Times for a writing class I was taking at the time, I’ve been intrigued. A renovated two-room bed & breakfast with a year-long (during the warmer months) waiting list, I knew I had to see it. And so I finally did.
No, I did not spend the night. That was never the intention, not for this visit anyway. But after reading how the Saugerties Lighthouse, initially built in 1869 on the Hudson River about 100 miles north of New York City, is only accessible by foot on a ½ mile trail that floods at high tide, I just had to see it; I loved the idea of hiking into a b & b in a 19th century lighthouse.
You see, the Saugerties Lighthouse is not only open to guests spending the night, it’s also open to the public during daylight hours. At least the outside part is. Located on the Hudson River at the mouth of the Esopus Creek, and just on the edge of the Catskill mountains, it’s a place of beauty and tranquility, and one where people can swim, boat and take nature walks. Many people in the area come here to enjoy the scenery and relax on a sunny day.
I coerced my girls and some family friends (who often get sucked into my adventures!), and off we set. We were actually in the area for another engagement, and when I realized how close to the Saugerties Lighthouse we were, I said let’s go. And they were totally game. It was a nice summer day, I mapped the address for the lighthouse, and soon we parked at a dead-end street outside of downtown Saugerties.
It had dawned on me that the trail gets covered in water during high tide so I checked the tide chart (on the lighthouse’s website), and we were indeed going during the 2-hour high tide window. But there were a bunch of other cars that had just recently parked as well, so we decided to start on the trail. It ended up being fine, but just make sure to check the tidal chart first!
The walk starts on a boardwalk and then turns into a trail, with lush vegetation all around. You can see snipets of the water at various points, and it definitely feels a little secret. After ½ mile, it brings you to the lighthouse, a red brick building overlooking the Hudson and Esopus. There were people hanging out on shore, as well as up by the lighthouse, and there is a nice deck in which to take a break and take in the setting.
The Saugerties Lighthouse is a landmark beacon and still plays a role in navigation today. For 100 years, it was a manual lighthouse with an innkeeper until it became automated in 1954. Years later it was condemned to be torn down, and in 1985 the Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy was formed to save it. That it did, and the lighthouse soon became listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as being turned into the current b & b. There is also a museum inside, on the history of the lighthouse, dating back to the steamship days.
The inside part of the lighthouse is closed to the public, except for Sundays, when they offer tours. Unfortunately we weren’t able to go inside, so I can’t report back on the rooms, apart from what I’ve read online: very simple, and very romantic. A two-bedroom b & b in a lighthouse not accessible by car – it doesn’t get much more romantic than that. So when I do eventually book a room, it probably won’t be with my kids (though they are allowed).
If you’re in the Saugerties area (about 20 minutes north of Woodstock), it’s worth a visit. If you’re able to book a room, even better! And let me know how it is!
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