Columbia County's Publicly Accessible Natural Areas

Map of Publicly Accessible Natural Areas in Columbia County

For a larger version of the map, please click on the map image. For examples of the habitats that can be experienced in each public area, please click here.

Listing of Publicly Accessible Natural Areas

(numbers refer to the numbers on the map above; click on the links or scroll down the page to get to detailed information about each public area, including directions and links to trail maps (where available)

   1. Art Omi 
  8. Crellin Park (and extension into neighboring PS21)
16. Harrier Hill Conservation Area (surrounded by Stockport Wildlife Management Area, #51)
20. Hillsdale Community Wetland (a part of Rheinstrom Hill Audubon Sanctuary, #41)
22. Hudson River Islands State Park (part of Stockport Flats, see entry #51)
33. Nutten Hook Unique Area (northernmost site of Stockport Flats, see entry #50)
50. Stockport Flats (northernmost site in the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve)
 

1.  Art Omi

Organization: Art Omi

Town: Ghent

Directions: 1405 Co Rte 22, Ghent, NY 12075 (Trail Map)

Size/Trails: 120 acres.

Description: The broad, well-groomed paths of this sculpture park traverse a gently rolling terrain of lawns, old fields, swamp forest, upland forest, and lead along a shallow pond. Look for diverse and unusual spring flowers in the forests, not to mention installation art. 

Pets: Yes, but one needs to register for Dog Pass 

Hunting: No

Suggested Blog Posts: 

November 2020 (Tree Silhouettes at Art Omi by Claudia Knab-Vispo)

December 2020 (Fresh Snow in the Sculpture Park of Art Omi by Kendrick Fowler)

November 2021 (A Frosty Morning at Art Omi by Claudia Knab-Vispo)

 

 

2. Beebe Hill State Forest

Organization: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)

Town: Austerlitz

Directions: (Trail Map)

Size/Trails: 2,018-acre; over 10 miles of trails.

Description: A large, mostly forested area of rugged terrain, which includes a number of beaver ponds, vernal pools, headwater streams, wooded rock outcrops, and a variety of forest habitats, some of which are actively managed for timber. Some of the trails follow logging roads, others are narrow footpaths; be prepared to share the trails with mountain bikers and horseback riders. The fire tower, which used to provide a 360o sweeping view across Columbia County and beyond, is currently closed because it needs repairs (Fall 2023). A connector trail leads to Harvey Mountain State Forest.

Pets: Yes

Hunting: Yes

Suggested Blog Posts: 

September 2021 (A Few Caterpillars from Beebe State Forest by FEP summer intern Faith Novella with photos by Kendrick Fowler)

February 2023 (A Walk to No Bottom Pond in Beebe State Forest by Kyle Bradford)

 

 

3. Borden’s Pond Conservation Area

Organization: Columbia Land Conservancy

Town: Ghent

Directions: 1630 NY-203, Chatham, NY 12037 (Trail map); this area can also be reached by foot from Main Street Chatham by walking up High Street and Dinnegar Ave or via Austerlitz Road and Jones Ave

Size/Trails: 62 acres; 1.6 miles of trails.

Description: A more or less level trail leads through old conifer plantations and young hardwood forest to an overlook over the wet meadow that used to be an ice pond for the Borden’s milk bottling plant and continues parallel to a little stream that used to feed the pond. Optional loop trails with short steep sections lead up the hill and traverse both, post-agricultural and ancient forest patches. The trails can get muddy after periods of rain and quite icy in the winter!

Pets: Yes

Hunting: No

Suggested Blog Posts: 

April 2020 (Poison Ivy and Other Vines at Borden’s Pond by Claudia Knab-Vispo)

May 2020 (Larch Trees at Borden’s Pond by Nellie Ostow)

May 2020 (A Walk Through Borden’s Pond by Claudia Knab-Vispo)

October 2020 (First Snow at Borden’s Pond by Claudia Knab-Vispo with some images by Conrad Vispo and Kendrick Fowler)

February 2021 (Winter Wonder Wander in the Oak-Maple Forest at Borden’s Pond by Nellie Ostow and Anna Duhon)

May 2021 (Early-flowering Sedges at Borden’s Pond by Claudia Knab-Vispo)

October 2022 (Witch-hazel’s Little Mysteries at Borden’s Pond and Beyond by Conrad Vispo)

 

 

4. Charles Flood Wildlife Management Area at the Empire Brickyard

Organization: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)

Town: Stockport

Directions:(Map)

Size/Trails: 591 acres; no marked trails.

Description: This is a large area, named after a generous supporter who initially enabled Scenic Hudson to preserve the land, which has since been given to NYS. It features mostly post-agricultural forests and oldfields, which are separated from the Hudson River and the floodplain forest by the rail tracks. It is traversed by an unpaved road starting at the Brickyard Road Parking Lot.

Pets: Yes

Hunting: Yes

 

 

5. Cheviot Park Boat Launch  

Organization: Town of Germantown

Town: Germantown

Directions: Cheviot Rd, Germantown, NY

Size/Trails: Hard surface launch; no trails.

Description: A very small area providing access to and a view of the Hudson River. 

 

 

6. Clermont State Park 

Organization: New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP)

Town: Clermont

Directions: 1 Clermont Ave. Germantown, NY (Trail map)

Size/Trails: 500 acres; 5 miles of trails.

Description: The mostly level, well-groomed trails traverse a variety of forest habitats (including young hardwood forest near the river, as well as oak-maple forest, wooded rock outcrops, swamp forest, and red cedar forest further inland) and provide nice views of the Hudson River and the Catskills along the shoreline above the railroad tracks. Around the Livingston mansion, trails also lead across the lawns, through the gardens, by ponds and oldfields, and between the extant buildings and some ruins of the estate.

Pets: Yes

Hunting: Yes

 

 

7. Copake Lake

Organization: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)

Town: Copake

Directions: Southeast side of the lake, off of Lakeview Rd. or County Rt 7

Size/Trails: Lake is 410 acres with ~5 miles of shoreline; no designated trails besides walking along the road.

Description: This lake can be appreciated by car or by foot along Lakeview Road, which follows its eastern shoreline. It can also be explored by boat or—when frozen—on foot, skates, or cross-country skies by accessing it from the public boat launch.

Pets: Yes

Hunting: Yes, fishing.

 

 

8. Crellin Park (and extension into neighboring PS21)

Organization: Town of Chatham/PS21

Town: Chatham, NY

Directions: 2940 NY-66, Chatham, NY 12037 (Trail map of “PS21|Chatham Pathways”, a mix of existing and planned trails at Crellin Park and PS21); this area can also be reached on foot from Main Street Chatham by walking on the sidewalk of Route 66

Size/Trails: 154 acres (including PS21) with over 2 miles of trails.

Description: The trails lead past ball fields, a skateboard park, and community gardens along the high bank of Stony Kill and down into the floodplain forest, which is home to a spectacular diversity of spring flowers. One can also explore the pebbly shores of the stream and look for bits of glassy slag from the historical iron furnace upstream. The trails connect with the trails at PS21 to the north. Established trails at PS21 currently (2023) lead through orchards and across oldfields, but eventually will also include a dip into another floodplain forest. 

Pets: Yes

Hunting: No

Suggested Blog Posts: 

August 2020 (New Public Trails at PS21 by Claudia Knab-Vispo and Conrad Vispo)

October 2020 (Exploration Along the Banks of Stony Kill in Crellin Park by Conrad Vispo)

December 2020/January 2022 (Winter Tree Identification Self-guided Course Part 1 in Crellin Park by Conrad Vispo)

January 2021 (Winter Tree Identification Self-guided Course Part 2 in Crellin Park by Conrad Vispo)

February 2021/January 2022 (Winter Tree Identification Self-guided Course Part 3 in Crellin Park by Conrad Vispo)

January 2022 (Practicing Winter Botany at Crellin Park by Kendrick Fowler)

February 2022 (A Little More Winter Botany at Crellin Park by Conrad Vispo)

 

 

9. Doodletown Wildlife Management Area

Organization: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)

Town: Ancram 

Directions: (Map)

Size/Trails: 1,078 acres; a roughly one mile long, walkable, unpaved road from Doodletown Road parking lot; no marked trails (Autumn 2023).

Description: This large, gently undulating terrain contains a mosaic of mostly post-agricultural forest types, small streams, and patches of swamp forest; the area is managed for timber and for shrubland species, such as American Woodcock and New England Cottontail. It is traversed by logging roads and unmarked trails.

Pets: Yes

Hunting: Yes

 

 

10. Drowned Lands Swamp Conservation Area

Organization: Columbia Land Conservancy

Town: Ancram

Directions: 653 CR 3, Ancram (Trail map)

Size/Trails: 114 acres; 1.5 miles of trails.

Description: One trail skirts an oldfield and then follows a steep gravel road through oak-maple forest up to the top of Old Croken, a roughly 850 foot tall limestone hill with a sweeping easterly view of Drowned Lands Swamp and the Taconics beyond. Another trail follows the eastern base of the hill and provides glimpses of the swamp forest and marsh, as well as the calcareous wooded rocky outcrops and talus of the east slope of Old Croken. Look for unusual, limestone-loving plants!

Pets: Yes

Hunting:  No

Suggested Blog Posts: 

April 2020 (A Spring Walk up Old Crocken by Conrad Vispo with Claudia Knab-Vispo)

March 2021 (Winter Wonder Wander of the Swamp Forest at Drowned Lands Swamp by Anna Duhon and Nellie Ostow)

 

 

11. Ernest R. Lasher Memorial Park

Organization: Town of Germantown

Town: Germantown

Directions: Ernest R Lasher Memorial Park, Anchorage Rd, Germantown, NY 12526

Size/Trails: 2 acres.

Description: A small, open town park on the banks of the Hudson, complete with a boat launch, picnic area, and fishing pier. Spectacular views of the Catskills across the river!

Pets: Yes

Hunting: Yes

 

 

12. Freund Wildlife Sanctuary

Organization: The Nature Conservancy

Town: Chatham

Directions: 199-67 Pitts Road, Old Chatham (Park along the road)

Size/Trails: 57 acres; roughly 1.5 miles of trails.

Description: This is a very low-key protected area with somewhat hard-to-find parking and trails. A mix of post-agricultural forest (young hardwood and White Pine) and mature oak-maple forest is transected by a small stream and a narrow corridor of floodplain forest.

Pets: No

Hunting: No

 

 

13. Greenport Conservation Area 

Organization: Columbia Land Conservancy

Town: Greenport

Directions: 319 Joslen Blvd, Hudson, NY (Trail map)

Size/Trails: 736 acres; 1-mile all-access trail and 8 miles of trails total. 

Description: This is a popular area with broad, well-maintained trails traversing oldfields, shrublands, post-agricultural forests, and ancient forests on the clay bluffs and ravines on the bank of the Hudson River. An all-access trail leads to a pavilion with a sweeping view of the Hudson River and a freshwater tidal marsh, as well as the Catskill Mountains in the distance.

Pets: Yes

Hunting: No

Suggested Blog Posts: 

January 2021 (Winter Wonder Wander in the Oldfields at Greenport Conservation Area by Nellie Ostow and Anna Duhon)

 

 

14. Hand Hollow Conservation Area

Organization: Columbia Land Conservancy

Town: New Lebanon

Directions: (Trail Map)

Size/Trails: 433 acres; 3 miles of trails.

Description: Surrounded by one of the large forest blocks in Columbia County, this area has a diverse mosaic of habitats, accessible by easy and moderately difficult trails. Near Route 9 is a large and dynamic complex of beaver ponds, dams, and meadows. The easy trail leads through an oldfield where Eastern Bluebirds nest in boxes, to the shore of the beaver pond, and then on along the floodplain forest of a small stream, into a post-agricultural forest and another oldfield. A steeper trail leads through mostly young hardwood forests and White Pines to the shores of Meizinger Lake on Gale Hill Road.

Pets: Yes

Hunting: Yes, and fishing.

Suggested Blog Posts: 

May 2020 (Exploration of Hand Hollow Cons. Area, Part 1: Plants by Claudia Knab-Vispo and Conrad Vispo)

May 2020 (Exploration of Hand Hollow Cons. Area, Part 2: Pollinators on Spring Flowers by Conrad Vispo)

May 2020 (The Blown-out Beaver Dam at Hand Hollow Cons. Area by Kendrick Fowler)

June 2023 (Exploration of the Beaver Byway Trail at Hand Hollow Cons. Area by FEP summer intern Elyse Talley)

 

 

15. Hand Hollow State Forest

Organization: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)

Town: New Lebanon

Directions: County Rte 34, East Chatham, NY 12060 (Trail Map)

Size/Trails: 518 acres on the north and south side of Route 34; 0.7 miles trail to Spiegelberg Lake, else no designated trails.

Description: This state forest was established in 2014 and the moderately difficult trail to Spiegelberg Lake leads through a small ancient Hemlock forest on the banks of a little creek and then through mostly post-agricultural young hardwood forest to a large man-made lake with an observation platform.

Pets: Yes

Hunting: Yes

Suggested Blog Posts: 

February 2019 (Background History for the Hand Hollow State Forest by Conrad Vispo)

 

 

16. Harrier Hill Conservation Area (surrounded by Stockport Wildlife Management Area, #51)

Organization: Owned by Scenic Hudson and co-managed with CLC 

Town: Stockport

Directions: 6729 Rod and Gun Rd, Hudson, NY 12534 (Trail Map)

Size/Trails: 6 acres; ~2 miles of trails. 

Description: A short, universally accessible trail leads from the parking area past a pond and through oldfield/upland shrubland to a pavilion with nice views of the Hudson River and the Catskill Mountains. A moderately difficult connector trail (“Stockport-Greenport Trail”) starts on the other side (east side) of Rod and Gun Road and leads through a wet meadow (short boardwalk), oldfields, and post-agricultural forests of Stockport Wildlife Management Area (#51) to Greenport Conservation Area (#13). 

Pets: Yes

Hunting: No

 

 

17. Harris Conservation Area

Organization: Columbia Land Conservancy

Town: Austerlitz

Directions: 105 Bloody Hollow Rd, Chatham, NY 12037 (Trail Map)

Size/Trails: 76 acres; 1.5 miles of trails.

Description: This little-visited area has moderately difficult trails leading to a quiet pond that might have been a bog before it was mined for manganese ore almost two centuries ago. Along the way, the trail passes through post-agricultural hardwood and White Pine forests (note the stone walls!), ancient Hemlock forest, past swamp forests, vernal pools, small streams, and rock outcrops. A secluded spot with a variety of habitats and topography.

Pets: Yes

Hunting: No

Suggested Blog Posts: 

May 2020 (A Walk through Harris Con. Area by Claudia Knab-Vispo, Dylan Cipkowski, and Conrad Vispo)

November 2020 (A Celebration of Club Mosses, Fall Colors, and More from Harris and Ooms Cons. Areas by Kendrick Fowler)

December 2020 (Winter Wonder Wander in the Hemlock Forest of Harris Cons. Are by Nellie Ostow and Anna Duhon)

January 2023 (Clubmosses at Harris Con. Area by Kenrick Fowler)

 

 

18. Harvey Mountain State Forest

Organization: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)

Town: Austerlitz

Directions: E Hill Rd, Austerlitz, NY 12017 (Trail Map)

Size/Trails: 1,909 acres; more than 7 miles of trails including a connector trail to Beebe Hill State Forest.

Description: A moderately difficult loop trail leads to the top of Harvey Mountain, where in 2023 the restoration of a historically extensive blueberry field was initiated by clearcutting the established vegetation and subsequent burning. This open area provides nice views of the Taconics (including Catamount Ski Area) to the south and the Catskills to the west. The lower sections of the trails lead through post-agricultural forests (note the stone walls!), while some of the forests on the steeper slopes might never have been converted to fields. Most of the forests are managed for timber and the trails are shared by mountain bikers.

Pets: Yes

Hunting: Yes

Suggested Blog Posts: 

January 2020 (Videos of a Winter-active Black Bear, Fisher, and a Young Buck in Harvey Mtn. State Forest by Dylan Cipkowski)

August 2021 (Videos of a White-tailed Deer Buck in Harvey Mtn. State Forest by Dylan Cipkowski)

October 2023 (Does Tree Size Predict Tree Age? by Conrad Vispo with some photos and data from Harvey Mtn. State Forest)

 

 

19. High Falls Conservation Area

Organization: Columbia Land Conservancy

Town: Claverack (Town of Philmont)

Directions: 540 Roxbury Rd, Hudson (Trail map)

Size/Trails: 47 acres; 1 mile of trail.

Description: This much-visited area has an easy trail leading through ancient oak-maple and Hemlock forest to a view of the highest waterfall in Columbia County and its plunge pool. More strenuous side trails (one of them involving a long set of stairs) lead down to the banks of Agawamuck Creek and through its floodplain forest. Another side trail traverses a very young forest of Black Locust and Tree-of-Heaven with many invasive shrubs. 

Pets: Yes

Hunting: No, only fishing.

Suggested Blog Posts: 

February 2023 (Ferns & Mosses of High Falls Cons. Area by Josie Laing)

January 2024 (Winter Botany by Kyle Bradford)

 

 

20. Hillsdale Community Wetland (a part of Rheinstrom Hill Audubon Sanctuary, #41)

Organization: National Audubon Society, managed by Audubon New York

Town: Hillsdale

Directions: Currently no separate parking area, but visible from Route 23.

Size/Trails: Approximately XXX acres, separated from the rest of Rheinstrom Hill Audubon Sanctuary by the future rail trail; open access from the Sanctuary and from Route 23, but no trails.

Description: Can be observed from Route 23 and the future rail trail

 

 

21. Hudson Boat Launch

Organization: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)

Town: Hudson, NY

Directions: Henry Hudson Riverfront Park, 18 Ferry St, Hudson, NY 12534

Size/Trails: Hard surface boat launch.

Description: A small park with paved walkways through a lawn, providing views of the Hudson River and one of its large islands, as well as the Athens Lighthouse.

Pets: Yes

Hunting: No

 

 

22. Hudson River Islands State Park (part of Stockport Flats, see entry #51)

Organization: New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP),

Town: Stockport

Directions: Coxsackie, NY 12534

Size/Trails: 235 acres; mention of a “nature trail” on Stockport Middle Ground, but we have not been able to find maps or visit the site.

Description: This park is composed of two dredge spoil deposits, Stockport Middle Ground (an island) and Gay’s Point (a peninsula), which are only accessible by boat (for example from the Stockport Boat Launch).

Pets: Yes

Hunting: No

 

 

23. KEEP Conservation Preserve

Organization: Keep Conservation Foundation

Town: Germantown

Directions: 525 Co Rte 8, Germantown, NY 12526 (Trail Map)

Size/Trails: 143 acres; 3 miles of paths.

Description: The trails traverse a variety of oldfields and wet meadows as well as some post-agricultural forests and a small stream. Look for unusual wildflowers along the stream (e.g., Cardinal Flower) and in the fields (e.g., Canada Lily, Ragged-fringed Orchid).

Pets: No

Hunting: No

 

 

24. Ken Hummel Memorial Park

Organization: Town of Stuyvesant

Town: Stuyvesant

Directions: Sharptown Road, Stuyvesant, NY 12173

Size/Trails: 18 acres.

Description: The trail leads past a small pond and across farm fields into the forests of a clay bluff and ravine habitat. Look for unusual native understory plants.

 

 

25. Kinderhook Lake

Organization: Kinderhook Lake Corporation

Town: Kinderhook

Directions: Boat Launch in Niverville (just west of the Kinderhook Town Park and Town Hall)

Size/Trails: The lake is ~375 acres; no public trails.

Description: The lake has to be explored by boat, as there is no public shoreline access other than the boat launch.

Hunting: Yes, and fishing.

 

 

26. Lake Taghkanic State Park

Organization: New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP)

Town: Gallatin

Directions: 1528 NY-82 Ancram, NY 12502 (Trail map)

Size/Trails: 1,568 acres; 10.5 miles of trails. 

Description: This park features a busy public beach, boat rental, campground, and rental cabins on the north and west sides of the lake. The rest is a less frequented natural area with trails following the shoreline, traversing a variety of post-agricultural and ancient forests, leading by vernal pools, dry meadows, shrublands, and through a swamp. 

Pets: Yes

Hunting: Yes

 

 

27. Lewis A. Swyer Preserve 

Organization: The Nature Conservancy

Town: Stuyvesant

Directions: 1599 NY-9J, Stuyvesant, NY 12173, park along the west side of the road (Trail map)

Size/Trails: 95 acres; 0.5-mile boardwalk trail.

Description: The boardwalk leads west toward the Hudson River, traversing a range of freshwater tidal habitats, such as swamp forest, shrub swamp, and marsh. This special place features a large number of otherwise rare wetland flowers like Canada Lily, but also look out for the ample Poison Ivy growing along the boardwalk and high up into the trees!

Pets: No

Hunting: No

Suggested Blog Posts: 

July 2014 (Nature Exploration at the Lewis A. Swyer Preserve by Claudia Knab-Vispo and Conrad Vispo)

January 2022 (Winter Botany at the Lewis A. Swyer Preserve by Claudia Knab-Vispo with photos by Conrad Vispo)

July 2022 (Canada Lilies and so much more at the Lewis A. Swyer Preserve by Claudia Knab-Vispo and Conrad Vispo)

 

 

28. Livingston State Forest

Organization: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)

Town: Livingston

Directions: Fox Creek Road Parking Lot Livingston State Forest, Livingston, NY (Map)

Size/Trails: 319 acres; no designated trails.

Description: This is a bush-whacker’s paradise, where you can explore ancient Hemlock and oak-maple forests, but also dense post-agricultural Red Cedar forests, and a former White Pine plantation. Small creeks traverse the forest and converge in a ravine, which eventually empties into the Hudson River.

Pets: Yes

Hunting: Yes

 

 

29. Martin Van Buren National Historical Site

Organization: National Park Service

Town: Kinderhook

Directions: 1013 Old Post Rd, Kinderhook, NY 12106 (Trail map; Map of Kinderhook Dutch Farming Heritage Trail)

Size/Trails: 125 acres; 3.75 miles of trails.

Description: Short trails lead over the lawns around the mansion, but a 3-mile loop (the Kinderhook Dutch Farming Heritage Trail) leads north through farmland and forests to the Luykas Van Alen House.

Pets: Yes, not on Kinderhook Dutch Farming Heritage Trail

Hunting: No

Suggested Story Maps:

2020 (Wild Mammal Life at Martin Van Buren Nat’l Historical Site by Dylan Cipkowski)

2020 (Spring Insects at Martin Van Buren Nat’l Historical Site by Dylan Cipkowski)

2020 (Summer Insects at Martin Van Buren Nat’l Historical Site by Dylan Cipkowski)

 

 

30. Martin Van Buren Nature Area

Organization: Friends of Lindenwald

Town: Kinderhook

Directions: 2408 NY-9H, Kinderhook, NY 12106 (Trail map)

Size/Trails: 70 acres; 2.5 miles of trails.

Description: The trails traverse northern hardwood, Hemlock, and White Pine forests, as well as various types of post-agricultural young hardwood forest; some trail sections are boardwalks. Look for exceptional spring flowers along the trail near the stream! 

Pets: Yes

Hunting: No

Suggested Blog Posts: 

October 2020 (Jacqueline and Other Fruits in the Martin Van Buren Nature Area by Nellie Ostow)

 

 

31. Mud Creek Environmental Learning Center

Organization: Columbia County Soil & Water Conservation District 

Town: Ghent

Directions: 1024 NY-66, Ghent, NY 12075 (Trail map)

Size/Trails: 1.6 miles of trails.

Description: The small loop trail provides the rare opportunity to experience the heart of a wetland while keeping one’s feet dry thanks to extensive sections of boardwalk. The larger loop leads through shrubland and oldfields.

Pets: Yes

Hunting: No

 

 

32. New Forge State Forest

Organization: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)

Town: Taghkanic

Directions: (Trail map)

Size/Trails: 612 acres; 2.6 miles of trails. 

Description: A number of unmarked trails and logging roads traverse this large and diverse natural area which features a stream with marshy and rocky sections (there is actually a small waterfall near the New Forge Road Parking Lot). The stream is flanked by shrub swamp, swamp forest, but also a beautiful Hemlock forest. Up the hill, you can experience dry oak forest. The forests are managed for timber.

Pets: Yes

Hunting: Yes

 

 

33. Nutten Hook Unique Area (northernmost site of Stockport Flats, see entry #50)

Organization: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)

Town: Stuyvesant

Directions: (Trail map; see insert!) 

Size/Trails: Part of Stockport Flats (see 51); 0.4-mile loop trail between Ice House Rd and Ferry Rd entrances is currently (Fall 2023) quite overgrown in its northern sections; there are hand boat landings at the end of Ice House Rd and Ferry Rd. 

Description: The loop trail starting south of the ruins of the ice house leads through young hardwood forest along the lower shore, up into dry oak forest on a bedrock outcrop that forms the high shore of the Hudson, down into floodplain forest along Ferry Road, and back along the edge of a freshwater tidal marsh. Look for unique understory plants in the dry oak forest section.

Pets: Yes

Hunting: Yes

Suggested Blog Posts: 

April 2021 (Spring Flower Walk at Nutten Hook by Claudia Knab-Vispo and Conrad Vispo)

 

 

34. Oakdale Park

Organization: City of Hudson

Town: Hudson

Directions: 604 Washington St, Hudson, NY 12534

Size/Trails: 14 acres; 0.5 miles of trails. 

Description: This park features a beach and other recreational facilities, as well as a loop trail around the lake, which traverses a variety of forest types, and leads past two ponds and across a stream, right in the center of Hudson!

Pets: Yes

Hunting: No

Suggested Blog Posts: 

May 2021 (An Exploration of Oakdale Park by Nellie Ostow in collaboration with Vanessa Baer of the Hudson Youth Center)

 

 

35. Olana State Historic Site

Organization: New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP)

Town: Greenport

Directions: (Trail map)

Size/Trails: 250 acres; 5 miles of carriage road trails (foot traffic only).

Description: Well-groomed trails lead through a “natural parkland” designed by artist Frederick Church and architect Calvert Vaux around 1870. The rolling landscape includes a pond, swamp forest, shrubland, post-agricultural and ancient forests, as well as wet meadows and oldfields, some of which have been seeded with native wildflowers and grasses. Spectacular views of the Hudson River, the Catskill Mountains, and the hills around Hudson.

Pets: Yes

Hunting: No

Suggested Blog Posts: 

 

 

36. Ooms Conservation Area

Organization: Columbia Land Conservancy

Town: Chatham

Directions: (Trail map)

Size/Trails: 180 acres; 3 miles of trails. 

Description: This area is defined by a large pond and a wide open sky above sprawling meadows. These former hayfields are now managed for grassland breeding birds, so look out during the summer for Bobolinks, Meadowlarks, and Field Sparrows. Bald Eagles often visit the pond. The trails loop around the pond, traverse a small wet meadow on a boardwalk, offer several alternative routes through and along the edge of the oldfields, and dip into post-agricultural forest.

Pets: Yes

Hunting: No, only fishing.

Suggested Blog Posts: 

November 2020 (Rare Sighting of a Sage Thrasher (Oreoscoptes montanus) at Ooms Cons. Area by Kendrick Fowler)

November 2020 (A Celebration of Club Mosses, Fall Colors, and More from Harris and Ooms Cons. Areas by Kendrick Fowler)

January 2021 (Oldfield Plants in Winter at Ooms Cons. Area by Nellie Ostow)

January 2021 (Snow Fly Observed at Ooms Cons. Area by Kendrick Fowler)

 

 

37. Overmountain Conservation Area

Organization: Columbia Land Conservancy

Town: Ancram

Directions: (Trail map)

Size/Trails: 1,700 acres; 10 miles of trails. 

Description: This large area features expansive oldfields now managed for grassland breeding birds, a small pollinator meadow, a pond, and a variety of forest habitats. The pavilion, a 10 minute, easy walk south of the Kite Hill Trailhead, provides a spectacular view of both, the Taconic Mountains to the east, and the Catskill Mountains to the west (with the entire width of Columbia County in between!). Stonewalls and charcoal hearths highlight nineteenth century land use history.

Pets: Yes

Hunting: Yes

Suggested Blog Posts:

March 2020 (A Sunday Afternoon in Spring at Overmountain Cons. Area by Claudia Knab-Vispo)

October 2020 (Travel through Time in the Fox Hill Portion of Overmountain Cons. Area by Conrad Vispo)

 

 

38. Pachaquack Preserve

Organization: Village of Valatie

Town: Kinderhook (Village of Valatie)

Directions: 4106 Elm St, Valatie, NY 12184 (Trail Map)

Size/Trails: 43 acres; 1-mile loop trail.

Description: The trail is located on the high bank of the Kinderhook Creek, traverses a variety of forest types, and provides an occasional glimpse of the creek itself.

Pets: Yes

Hunting: No, only fishing.

 

 

39. Palatine Park

Organization: Town of Germantown

Town: Germantown

Directions: 50 Palatine Park Rd, Germantown, NY 12526

Size/Trails: Roughly 51 acres, more than 2 miles of trails, more than half of that all-accessible

Description: This large town park offers a variety of recreational facilities, including ball fields, a playground, and beach. The all-accessible trail circles through a variety of habitats, including mature oak-maple forest with large oak trees (look for Red, White, Black, Chestnut, and Swamp White Oak) and young hardwood forest, and skirts swamp forest, shrub swamp, wet meadow, and streams.

Pets: Yes

Hunting: No, only fishing.

 

 

40. Queechy Lake

Organization: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)

Town: Canaan

Directions: Hand Boat Launch Northeast shore off County Route 30, 0.2 miles west of NY Route 22.

Size/Trails: The lake is 141 acres; no designated trails.

Description: This beautiful lake (which has natural vegetation along most of its eastern shore) can be appreciated from the car by driving along County Route 30, which follows its western shoreline. It can also be explored by boat or—when frozen—on foot, skates, or cross-country skies by accessing it from the public boat launch.

Pets: 

Hunting: No, only fishing.

Suggested Blog Posts: 

May 2020 (An Early Morning Paddle and Birding on Queechy Lake by Dylan Cipkowski)

July 2020 (Spongy Moths–then still called "Gypsy Moths"–at Queechy Lake by Conrad Vispo with photos from Wendy Dwyer)

 

 

41. Rheinstrom Hill Audubon Sanctuary

Organization: National Audubon Society, managed by Audubon New York

Town: Hillsdale

Directions: 225 Cambridge Road, Craryville, NY 12521 (Trail map)

Size/Trails: 1,039-acres, including Hillsdale Community Wetland (#20); 3.3 miles of trails.

Description: This hidden gem has 3.3 miles of trails. The paths are covered in moss and the trees are coated in lichen, making this preserve a mystical landscape for early morning birding. The second parking lot up the road brings you to the red and blue trails, which guide you through dry oak forests with wild blueberries in the understory. The trails also allow one to observe examples of different forest management, including regeneration cuts closed in with deer fencing.

Pets: Yes

Hunting: No, only fishing.

Suggested Blog Posts: 

October 2020 (Autumn Colors at Rheinstrom Hill Audubon Sanctuary by FEP intern Ellen Scheid)

November 2021 (Mosses etc. at Rheinstrom Hill Audubon Sanctuary by Nellie Ostow)

February 2024 (Winter Mushrooms by Josie Laing)

 

 

42. Rip Van Winkle Bridge Walkway

Organization: New York State Bridge Authority, Thomas Cole National Historic Site, The Olana Partnership, and Olana State Historic Site

Town: Hudson/Catskill

Directions: (Trail map)

Size/Trails: The Hudson River Skywalk Pedestrian Route between Olana and Thomas Cole Historic Site is 3 miles; 1.3 miles between Rip Van Winkle Bridge Authority Park lot and Olana Trailhead/Parking lot by the roundabout.

Description: This walkway across the bridge high above the Hudson River (paralleling a much-traveled, two-lane road) provides spectacular views of the river and its associated shoreline habitats, of the Catskill Mountains, and of Olana. 

Pets: No

Hunting: No

 

 

43. River Street Park

Organization: Village of Valatie

Town: Kinderhook

Directions: River Street, Valatie, NY 12184 (Trail Map)

Size/Trails: 10 acres; 4 miles of trails. 

Description: This park is the counterpart to Pachaquack Park, located on the opposite shore of Kinderhook Creek, with trails traversing a floodplain forest and providing access to the gravelly/sandy shores of the creek in several locations. Look for spring wildflowers in the floodplain forest.

Pets: Yes

Hunting: No

Suggested Blog Posts: 

April 2021 (Spring Flowers at River Street Park by Nellie Ostow)

 

 

44. Roeliff Jansen Park

Organization: New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP), managed by the Town of Hillsdale

Town: Copake, NY

Directions: 116 Old Rte 22, Hillsdale, NY 12529 (Trail map)

Size/Trails: 300 acres more than 2.5 miles of trails.

Description: This park is mostly defined by gently rolling active and former farmland, which is traversed by well-groomed, easy trails under a big sky. The open landscape provides many pleasing views of the surrounding wooded hills and farmland. The trails lead through hay meadows, oldfields, wet meadows, and shrubland, parallel extensive hedgerows, but also enter patches of ancient forest, and lead down to the shore of Roeliff Jansen Kill. The park also offers a playground for children and a fenced-in play area for dogs off-leash.

Pets: Yes

Hunting: No

 

 

45. Rogers Island Wildlife Management Area

Organization: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)

Town: Greenport

Directions: Boat access only; (Map)

Size/Trails: 281 acres; no designated trails.

Description: This island can only be reached by boat and explored by bush-whacking. It is covered mostly by ancient and young hardwood forest but also has freshwater tidal swamp forest and shrub swamp. Some of its shores are rocky, but it is also bordered by extensive freshwater tidal marsh.

Pets: Yes

Hunting: Yes

 

 

46. Schodack Island State Park

Organization: New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP)

Town: Stuyvesant (Columbia County portion of park)

Directions: 1 Schodack Island Way, Schodack Landing, NY 12156 (Trail map)

Size/Trails: 1052 acres; 10 miles of trails. 

Description: Straddling three counties (Columbia, Greene, and Rensselaer), this park has a campground, picnic area, boat launch, and extensive trails through majestic Cottonwood trees in the floodplain and dredge spoil forests. Look for Bald Eagles, Ospreys, and rare songbirds such as the Cerulean Warbler. Watch out for the copious Poison Ivy along the edge of the trails! The southern part of the island has been used to deposit dredge spoils and has restricted access.

Pets: Yes 

Hunting: Yes

 

 

47. Schor Conservation Area

Organization: Columbia Land Conservancy

Town: Canaan

Directions: 58 Shore View Dr, East Chatham, NY 12060 (Trail map)

Size/Trails: 233 acres; 2.7 miles of trails. 

Description: The trails circle Jon’s Pond (named after the late Jon Schor, who donated the land for this conservation area) and traverse a variety of forest habitats, including a patch of Hemlock forest on the steep slope leading up to a small rock outcrop with a view of the Catskill Mountains and the fields and woods of Columbia County. The trails also skirt a number of vernal pools, where Wood Frogs and Spotted Salamanders lay their eggs in early spring.

Pets: Yes

Hunting: Yes, and fishing.

Suggested Blog Posts: 

November 2022 (A Jaunt through Schor Cons. Area by Kyle Bradford)

June 2023 (Nature Exploration at Schor Cons. Area by FEP summer intern Maya Clark)

 

 

48. Shaker Museum North Pasture Trail

Organization: Shaker Museum–Historic Mount Lebanon Site

Town: New Lebanon

Directions: 202 Shaker Rd., New Lebanon, NY 12125

Size/Trails: Around 1 mile of trail.

Description: The trail starts at the ruins of a three-story stone barn and leads through oldfields, young hardwood forests, and conifer plantations, criss-crossed by stone walls attesting to the past agricultural activity of the Shakers. Part of the larger museum grounds.

Hunting: No

 

 

49. Siegel-Kline Kill Conservation Area

Organization: Columbia Land Conservancy

Town: Ghent

Directions: 1452 Church St, Ghent, NY 12075 (Trail map)

Size/Trails: 55 acres; 1.5 miles of trails.

Description: The easy, well-maintained main loop trail circles a large field (partly managed for pollinator habitat) and traverses a young floodplain forest defined by Sycamore trees. Spur trails (sometimes muddy) lead to the gravelly shores of the Kline Kill. An alternate loop trail leads through shrubland up a steep hill with a rewarding view over the conservation area.  

Pets: Yes

Hunting: No, only fishing.

 

 

50. Stockport Flats (northernmost site in the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve)

Organization: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)

Town: Stockport & Stuyvesant 

Directions: Station Road Parking and Boat Launch: Stockport boat launch, 1 Station Rd, Hudson, NY 12534 (Map)

Size/Trails: A five-mile, narrow mosaic of aquatic and terrestrial habitats along the shore of the Hudson River. Currently no marked trails outside of Nutten Hook (#33) and Hudson River Islands State Park (#22).

Description: According to the DEC website, this large area includes Nutten Hook (#33); Hudson River Islands State Park (#22); the mouth of Stockport Creek, a large tributary stream; a portion of the upland bluff south of Stockport Creek; the dredge spoils and tidal wetlands between Stockport Creek and Priming Hook; and the northern end of Priming Hook. The Hudson is entirely tidal freshwater at this site. 

Pets: Yes

Hunting: Yes

 

 

51. Stockport Wildlife Management Area

Organization: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)

Town: Stockport

Directions: Stockport-Greenport Trail Head, Rod and Gun Rd, Hudson, NY 12534 (Map of Wildlife Management Area ; Map of Stockport-Greenport Trail, scroll down the page)

Size/Trails: 357 acres; 2 miles of trail traversing Stockport Wildlife Management Area leading from Harrier Hill Conservation Area (#17) to Greenport Conservation Area (#13)

Description: A moderately difficult connector trail (“Stockport-Greenport Trail”) starts on the west side of Rod and Gun Road and leads through a wet meadow (short boardwalk), oldfields, and post-agricultural forests of this Wildlife Management Area to Greenport Conservation Area (#13). 

Pets: Yes

Hunting: Yes

Suggested Blog Post:

December 2022 (A Walk along the Stockport-Greenport Trail by Josie Laing)

 

 

52. Stonykill Disc Golf Course

Organization: Town of Chatham

Town: Chatham

Directions: 488 NY-295, Chatham, NY 12037 (Course map)

Size/Trails: Roughly 115 acres.

Description: The trails of the disc golf course are open to the public and lead through a gently undulating old field and post-agricultural forests, past a swamp forest and woodland pools.

Suggested Blog Post:

February 2024 (A Wintry Stroll through the Stonykill Disc Golf Course in Chatham by Claudia)

 

53. Stuyvesant Landing

Organization: Town of Stuyvesant

Town: Stuyvesant

Directions: Boat launch – 20 Riverview St, Stuyvesant, NY 12173

Size/Trails: Public boat launch; no designated trails.

Description: A parking area right at the shore of the Hudson River provides a view of the river and a launching place for small boats.

 

 

54. Summit Lake

Organization: Village of Philmont

Town: Claverack, NY

Directions: Lake View Dr, Philmont, NY 12565

Size/Trails: The lake is approximately 22 acres; it can be viewed and accessed with small boats from the public “beach”; no designated trails.

Description: This waterbody is the core of a large natural area in the heart of the Village of Philmont and can be explored by boat. A system of informal trails (the so-called “boy scout trail”) traverses the ancient and post-agricultural forests of the still undeveloped eastern shore (owned by the Village of Philmont), but can currently be accessed only from the residential development of Summit Heights (Overlook Ct.).

Hunting: No, only fishing.

Suggested Blog Posts: 

September 2020 (Gentians on the Shore of Summit Lake etc. by Claudia Knab-Vispo)

March 2021 (Bald Eagle over Summit Lake by Kendrick Fowler)

 

 

55. Taconic State Park

Organization: New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP)

Town: Copake and Ancram

Directions: (Trail Map–Northern Section, Prospect Hill to Mt. Alander, including Copake Falls, Columbia County), Trail Map–Southern Section, Brace Mountain to Rudd Pond, Dutchess County)

Size/Trails: This large State Park straddles two counties and covers a total of 14,400 acres, providing 97 miles of trails, including Southern Taconic Trail (which follows the Taconic Ridge and dips in and out of Massachusetts).

Description: This is by far the largest public area in Columbia County, offering a campground and public swimming area, the historic Iron Works, and one of the access points to the Harlem Valley Rail Trail at Copake Falls. Trails lead from here to Bash Bish Falls, along the western slope of the Taconic Mountains, and up to the ridge, connecting with the Southern Taconic Trail. The latter leads from Catamount Ski Resort in the north via Prospect Hill, Sunset Rock, down to Bash Bish, back up to Mt. Alander, and on into Dutchess County (the southern part of Taconic State Park, containing Brace Mountain and the Rudd Pond).

Pets: Yes

Hunting: Yes

Suggested Blog Posts: 

June 2015 (Ecology of Oak-Heath Barrens of Taconic SP by Claudia Knab-Vispo and Conrad Vispo)

April 2020 (An Early-Spring Visit to Mt. Alander by Claudia Knab-Vispo and Conrad Vispo)

September 2020 (A Late-Summer Visit to Mt. Alander by Claudia Knab-Vispo and Conrad Vispo)

December 2020 (A Ridgeline Ramble from Sunset Rock to Catamount by Conrad Vispo)

April 2022 (Observations of the Vegetation on the Taconic Ridge by Kendrick Fowler)

May 2022 (Flowers and a Few Insects of the Taconic Ridge by Claudia Knab-Vispo and Conrad Vispo)

June 2023 (A Hike to Bashbish Falls and Sunset Rock by FEP summer intern Jess Cartmell)

 

 

56. Wilson M. Powell Wildlife Sanctuary

Organization: Alan Devoe Bird Club

Town: Chatham

Directions: 75 Hunt Club Rd. Old Chatham NY 12136 (Trail map)

Size/Trails: 145 acres; ~1.75 miles of trails.

Description: This sanctuary contains a marshy pond with excellent wildlife viewing opportunities, and a network of moderately difficult trails leading through a variety of forest types, across a stream, past an old foundation and a vernal pool, and out onto the exposed bedrock outcrops of Darson’s Rock. The outcrop is surrounded by dry oak forest and provides a wonderful view across the woods and fields of Columbia County to the Catskill Mountains and all the way to Albany.

Pets: No

Hunting: No

Suggested Blog Posts: 

December 2021 (Mosses etc. at the Wilson M. Powell Wildlife Sanctuary by Kendrick Fowler)

 

 

57. Won Dharma Center

Organization: Won Dharma Center

Town: Claverack

Directions: 361 Route 23 Claverack, NY 12513 (Trail map)

Size/Trails: 426 acres; 6 miles of trails (open to the public from April to November).

Description: The easy, well-groomed trails on gently undulating terrain lead through a variety of oldfields, post-agricultural and ancient forests, and provide a number of spectacular views of the surrounding landscape and all the way to the Catskill Mountains.

Pets: Yes

Hunting: No