SYNOPSIS: The restored building that sits at the corner of Routes 311 and 164 in Patterson, now called the Lawlor Building, used to be the old town hall. Before that, it was a schoolhouse. Behind the building is a wooden covered bridge. Over that bridge is a trail that, in my opinion, offers one of the best examples of eastern Putnam’s subtle beauty. There are no steep cliffs, no huge mountains, no dramatic waterfalls, but it offers a panoramic view of gently rolling hills and open fields. There’s an old railroad line running through the property, an old barn, and a view of our Great Swamp. It’s a perfect spot for a late summer hike with the wildflowers painting the meadow – or an autumn hike with all of Putnam’s glorious foliage.
APPROXIMATE TIME: We did a short route out to an open field with an exposed rock bed. It took us no longer than 12 minutes each way. We were there for 30-40 minutes.
DIRECTIONS: (If you are using a GPS, use 2 Route 164, Patterson, NY as your destination.) From exit 18 of Route 84, head east on Route 311 for 1.5 miles. Bear right onto Route 164, and make the next left into the parking lot for the Lawlor Building. Park near the back corner of the lot and walk towards the covered bridge.
THE HIKE/VISIT: Walk across the covered bridge. The stream that flows underneath comes for nearby Wonder Lake State Park, an 1100 acre park with over 9 miles of hiking trails. Walk up the gravel road. At the top of the hill at the T intersection turn right to go over the small stream. The path opens to a large field. The old barn will be to your left.
Turn left to walk past the barn, and make a right before going over the small stone wall (there is a house and private property on the other side). Walk along the trail that follows the old fence. The trail then makes a quick left, then a right, and descends to pass underneath the old rail line. (There has been talk that at some point this rail will be make into a bike path.)
Continue a short distance and you will emerge onto an open field. We went straight to a section or bare rock. From here there is an excellent view of the surrounding countryside and the wetlands below. From here, head back out the way you came in.
(There is another trail on the left side as you emerge into the field, near a fallen tree, that leads down closer to the pond, but we haven’t taken this trail yet so I can’t comment on it.)
When were hiked here in August 2014, we ran into a bobcat. Pretty cool, though bobcats are nothing to take lightly.
As of my last visit in August 2014, there were no trail markers, but the paths were mowed so it was relatively easy to tell where you were supposed to walk.
HISTORY: The Hudson Valley Trust, Inc. (HVT) is a not-for-profit organization whose purpose is to preserve the historical, environmental and architectural heritage of the Hudson River Valley in New York State. The trail is open to the public. HVT’s website provides this glimpse of the history of the land:
“Patriots Park was the Old Towner’s Farm and location of the 1765-1766 Settler’s Revolt. During the revolt British troops fired on Americans, long before the Boston Massacre. Samuel Adams responded to this first military action by British Troops against Americans and issued a call for the Sons of Liberty to unite.”
HVT is currently (Aug 2014) looking to raise money to install a series of larger than life monuments to honor Patriots from the Revolutionary War to the current Gulf War.
As mentioned, the Lawlor Building near the parking lot served in the past as the old Towners School and later the town hall. It was renovated by HVT in 2003 with the help of grants from New York State. Its namesake, Lawrence M. Lawlor was a WWII Veterans and served as Patterson Town Supevisor. There is a brick memorial with an old school bell and dedication plaque. A number of not-for-profit agencies call the Lawlor Building home, including F.R.O.G.S. (Friends of the Great Swamp), The Fraternal order of Police (F.O.P.) and The American Red Cross.
MAP, DOG POLICY & ADDITIONAL INFO: You can find more info on the Hudson Valley Trust’s website at www.hudsonvalleytrust.com
-Personal visits, various dates.
-Maxwell, Dr. Larry A. President of Hudson Valley Trust. Via email communication, various dates.
-www.hudsonvalleytrust.com, accessed various dates.
-http://www.historicpatterson.org/Exhibits/ExhSchools.php, accessed 8/26/14.