I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, many times I’m sure. Dutchess County is a great place to live. The scenery is amazing, we’re close to the Hudson River, we have a ton of great attractions and historical sites, several colleges, plus award winning restaurants, clubs, breweries and shops. And we’ve got a few great hiking trails, too.

One of the more popular hikes in the Pawling area is just off the Appalachian Trail. It’s a beautiful body of water called Nuclear Lake. Wait… what? Nuclear Lake? Yup, it’s called Nuclear Lake, and it got that name because of an actual nuclear accident. Gulp. You mean people actually hike near a lake that was involved in a nuclear accident? Sounds very scary and unsafe to me.

However, I’m wrong. According to Scenic Hudson, it’s perfectly safe to hike or even picnic and swim at Nuclear Lake. So, what’s the history of Nuclear Lake? Hike the Hudson Valley explains that there was a nuclear research lab on the shores of the lake a long time ago. Back 1n 1972, there was a chemical explosion in the lab which blew an unknown amount of plutonium to the surrounding area, including the lake. They also note that the trails and the lake were extensively cleaned, tested and retested. The whole area and the vegetation around it was deemed safe years ago.

From what I hear, not only is Nuclear Lake safe, it’s also been called one of the most beautiful lakes on the Appalachian Trail. So, if you’re in the Pawling area anytime soon, why not take a hike to Nuclear Lake? I can’t help but wonder, though. Has anybody considered changing the name of the lake, or at least giving it a nickname? It may make the hike a tad more appealing. Just a thought.

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