NUCLEAR LAKE
off Route 55, Dutchess County, NY


Directions:

Saw Mill River Parkway north to its end and onto US 684 north to its end onto Route 22 north; take Rt. 55 in Dutchess County west; pass the green hiking sign for the Appalachian Trail; drive about 5.3 miles and at the crest of the hill (mile marker 21 63) turn right into a small parking area. (Across from a house at 3144 Route 55 -- formerly a business known as Precision Components Co., Inc.).


History:

The United Nuclear Corporation had a site near Nuclear Lake for nuclear-fuel testing and research.

1972 -- two non-nuclear explosions release plutonium dust in the area and the corporation forced to close.

The National Park Service has all the buildings removed and the area restored. The area is now free of contamination.


Trails:

Here the trail is marked in blue because it is a sidetrail that in a short walk will take you to the main AT.

Heading north you have to cross over a small berm. There is a crater-like depression on the ground on the left.

The trail heads north to West Mountain with good northern views. Shortly after the descent off West Mountain is Telephone Pioneers Shelter. On the way to the next parking area, the hiker will cross the wooden bridge over Swamp River. The parking area is at the Appalachian Trail railroad station off of NY 22.

They recently rerouted the AT to the side of Nuclear Lake. The old AT trail is now marked with blue blazes and is known as the Beekman Uplands Loop.

12/16/98 just stopped for a little while and only went as far as the power line cut.

10/29/02 came back with Michael St. John for a short hike to Nuclear Lake. On the blue trail, we walked north over the berm, crossed over the power cut, past a house near the power cut; picked up the white blazed AT trail; walked along a ridge halfway up the valley; saw a large Phragmites australis (giant reed grass) marsh in the valley; descended into the valley; crossed two wooden bridges over streams; near the second wooden bridge the yellow trail goes off to the right (to connect back with the AT north of Nuclear Lake); very soon reached the direct road to the dam on Nuclear Lake (coming up from Old Route 55); turned left on the road and saw the dam; at lunch near the lake; took some pictures; walked along the west side of Nuclear Lake on the dam road (also part of the AT at this point) for awhile (there is a lot of lawn area here and by the dam); turned around and came back on the AT (through a small lemon squeezer rock arrangement) to the intersection with the yellow trail. From there we retraced our steps on the AT to the parking area.


PLANT LIST:
Dr. Patrick L. Cooney
* = plant in bloom on 10/29/02


Trees:
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Amelanchier arborea (shadbush)
Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Betula populifolia (gray birch)
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)
Carya sp. (hickory)
Castanea dentata (American chestnut)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Ostrya americana (American hop hornbeam)
Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)
Populus deltoides (cottonwood)
Populus grandidentata (big-toothed aspen)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus palustris (pin oak)
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)

Shrubs:
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Cephalanthus occidentalis (buttonbush)
Chimaphila maculata (striped wintergreen)
Comptonia peregrina (sweetfern)
Corylus sp. (hazel) no glandular hairs
Elaeagnus umbellata (autumn olive)
Euonymus alatus (winged euonymus)
Forsythia sp. (golden bells)
Gaultheria
Gaylussacia baccata (black huckleberry)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) *
Ilex verticillata (winterberry holly)?
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Mitchella repens (partridgeberry)
Myrica pensylvanica (bayberry)
Rhamnus cathartica (common buckthorn)
Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Rubus hispidus (swamp dewberry)
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus sp. (black berry)
Salix discolor (pussy willow)
Sambucus canadensis (common elderberry)
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry)
Vaccinium pallidum (hillside blueberry)
Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf viburnum)
Viburnum prunifolium (blackhaw viburnum)

Vines:
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Vitis sp. (grape)

Herbs:
Achillea millefolium (yarrow) *
Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed)
Aster divaricatus (white wood aster)
Aster spp. (small white asters)
Bidens sp. (fruit --- narrow cow face 2 prongs)
Cichorium intybus (chicory)
Cirsium vulgare (bull thistle)
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace)
Eupatorium perfoliatum (boneset)
Eupatorium rugosum (white snakeroot)
Euthamia graminifolia (grass-leaved goldenrod)
Fragaria virginiana (strawberry)
Galium mollugo (wild madder)
Galium sp. (bedstraw)
Geranium maculatum (wild geranium)
Gnaphalium obtusifolium (sweet everlasting) *
Hieracium sp. (hawkweed)
Linaria vulgaris (butter and eggs) *
Lobelia inflata (Indian tobacco lobelia)
Lotus corniculatus (birdfoot trefoil)
Lycopus sp. (bugleweed)
Lysimachia ciliata (fringed loosestrife)
Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife)
Melilotus alba (white sweet clover)
Monotropa uniflora (Indian pipe)
Oenothera biennis (common evening primrose)
Plantago lanceolata (English plantain)
Plantago major (common plantain)
Polygonatum sp. (true Solomon's seal)
Prenanthes sp. (lettuce)
Prenanthes sp. (rattlesnake root)
Prunella vulgaris (self-heal)
Satureja vulgaris (wild basil)
Silene sp. (campion)
Smilax herbacea? (carrion flower)
Solidago bicolor (silverrod)
Solidago caesia (blue stem goldenrod)
Solidago gigantea (late goldenrod) *
Solidago rugosa (rough-leaved goldenrod)
Sparganium sp. (burreed)
Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion) *
Thalictrum pubescens (tall meadowrue)
Typha latifolia (cattail)
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein)
Verbena hastata (blue vervain)
Veronica officinalis (common speedwell)
Viola cucullata (marsh blue violet) * one in bloom
(vetch)

Rushes:
Juncus effusus (soft rush)
Juncus tenuis (path rush)

Sedges:
Carex laxiflora type (loose-flowered type sedge)
Carex lurida (sallow sedge)
Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)
Carex stricta (tussock sedge)
Cyperus strigosus (umbrella flatsedge)
Scirpus cyperinus (woolly grass bulrush)

Grasses:
Bromus inermis (smooth brome grass)
Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)
Eleusine indica (zipper grass)
Eragrostis spectabilis (purple lovegrass)
Leersia virginica (white grass)
Panicum clandestinum (deer-tongue grass)
Phleum pratense (Timothy grass)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)
Schizachyrium scoparium (little blue stem grass)
Setaria faberi (nodding foxtail grass)
Setaria sp. (green or yellow foxtail grass)

Ferns:
Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern)
Dryopteris marginalis (marginal woodfern)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)
Osmunda claytoniana (interrupted fern)
Polypodium sp. (rock cap fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Pteridium aquilinum (bracken fern)
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)

Other:
rock tripe lichen