Thompson Pond is part of a 507-acre nature preserve that is protected and managed by The Nature Conservatory for its biological importance and scientific and educational use. A series of trails traverse this unique and highly environmentally diversified area that are relatively easy and family friendly. The yellow markers line a 2.75-mile path that circles the pond and offers exceptional opportunities to view wildlife and rare flora.
A sign and gate mark the trailhead off of Lake Road in Pine Plaines, New York. A short distance in there is a plaque embedded into a rock commemorating the pond’s designation as a National Natural Landmark in May of 1973. Next, you’ll come to an information kiosk that shares some maps and local information about the area. The yellow trail will continue south and pass by several commemorative stone benches that offer serene lookout points across the water. As you approach the southern tip of the pond, the path will turn east and continue adjacent to a fence that borders recreational hunting grounds. A series of raised boardwalks will then take you over marsh lands and outflows; however, they can become submerged when the water table is high. Around the southeast bend you’ll pass a farm with some cows and cross over Wappingers Creek via a quaint walking bridge. Continue north and stay along the water’s edge until you intersect Lake Drive and can walk west to return to the parking area.
The pond is named after Amos Thompson, one of the earliest white settlers of Dutchess County in 1746. There are more than 387 species of plants in the preserve including pipewort, round-leaved sundew, St. Johnswort and cattails. The surrounding woods include oak, sugar maple, ash, hemlock, and hickory. Over 162 species of birds have been spotted here along with 27 types of mammals. Golden Eagles, threatened by land degradation throughout North America, have lived in the area for many years and have a magnificent wingspan that can sometimes be over 7 feet!
The preserve is open from dawn until dusk, and dogs are not allowed. Picnicking, camping, and fires are prohibited as well as hunting, trapping, and fishing. This is a local favorite for snowshoeing in the winter months! Many adventurers like to combine this trip with Stissing Fire Tower, a 90-foot observation point visible on top of the mountain immediately to the west.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.