Welcome To Our Preserves
The Pound Ridge Land Conservancy owns and manages 357 acres across 17 nature preserves in Pound Ridge, NY. These forests, wetlands and meadows exemplify northern Westchester County’s beautiful, semi-rural character while providing wild places for plants and animals to live. The PRLC’s preserves are forever protected from development and will continue to add aesthetic, community and ecological value to our region for decades to come. Management objectives vary across our preserves and reflect the unique cultural, historical and ecological nature of each.
Preserves With Trails
The PRLC manages trail systems on seven preserves (see map below). Where there are trails, trail density is purposely kept low and intact blocks of wild land are purposely kept large to provide our guests with a feeling of nature immersion. Trails are strategically routed away from sensitive areas and reinforced with stones or wood where needed. In some cases, boardwalks or large, flat stepping-stones bring our visitors safely within feet of a marsh or over a stream. Many of the trails pass remarkable natural phenomena such as massive bedrock walls, old trees, serene ponds, and babbling brooks. Since 1975, hundreds of hikers, nature lovers, birders and outdoor recreationalists have found a welcome retreat among these peaceful sanctuaries.
Management of Our Preserves and Their Ecosystems
With the exception of a few trails, informational kiosks, and signs, our presence on most preserves is intentionally minimal. As a condition to receiving land as a donation, we adhere to often strict legal language, which governs our preserve management. In other words, we are limited in the amount and kind of activity permitted on the preserves. With this type of low impact management, the preserves will retain their natural and wild character into the future. Most preserve manipulation comes in the form of invasive plant removal. Pound Ridge’s forests host a number of plants, which rapidly spread and out compete native others. These plants – Japanese barberry, Mile-a-Minute Vine, Stilt Grass, Wineberry, Asiatic Bittersweet, Phragmites and Garlic Mustard – are found in virtually all of Northern Westchester. It is important that their spread by halted. We strategically target certain invasive plant infestations and remove them where possible. The Pound Ridge Land Conservancy does not use chemical pesticides or herbicides to kill invasive plants. Alternatively, we usually employ a physical type of management, such as pulling Japanese barberry out of the ground, mowing stilt grass, or cutting phragmites at designated times of the year. For an example of how we manage invasive plants on our preserves, see information about the Isaacson Fen here and the Clark Preserve here. A note on annual deer hunting on the Pound Ridge Land Conservancy’s Clark, Bye and Armstrong Preserves- October through December. The forests of northern Westchester (like many other forests in southern New England) are taking an unprecedented form: wild flowers, shrubs and small trees are peculiarly absent from the forest floor. Without these usual forms of ground cover, soil is more erodible during storms and invasive plants can more easily colonize. Our forests are loosing plant biodiversity and failing to support the next generation of trees. What is causing this disturbance? Extremely high densities of white tail deer consume most plants on the forest floor and send a cascading ripple of damaging influence throughout the ecosystem. In an effort to protect Pound Ridge’s woodlands, the PRLC allows deer hunting on the 70-acre Clark Preserve, the 28-acre Bye Preserve and the 43-acre Armstrong Preserve in accordance with the town’s deer management plan and program. Deer hunters are directly overseen by the town and help us in reducing negative effects on our forest. (Anyone interested and properly licensed by New York State should contact the Chief of Police in Pound Ridge).
You Can Help
Please remember that for the protection of our human guests and the preserve’s wildlife it is against our policy to pick/ harvest plants, camp, litter or make fires on our preserves. Dogs must be leashed and their leavings picked up. Please commit yourself to a low-impact experience so that our preserves will remain valuable for future generations. Where they exist, we try our best to keep our trails safe and passable, our parking areas free of debris and our informational signage up to date. If you observe something out of the ordinary or unsafe on one of our trails please notify us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to help the Pound Ridge Land Conservancy keep their trails looking sharp? Consider joining the Trail Steward Program. See details here.
This 23.5 acre preserve has a dense hardwood forest providing excellent habitat for woodland birds. Second and third growth deciduous forest and wetlands dominate this preserve. The woods are mixed with hemlock and dense areas of mountain laurel. Remnant boundary stone walls criss-cross the preserve. Streams flow to the south through a large ravine. The trail has been cleared and (through the generosity of the Hsu family) visitors can now walk to the Mill River through the Bye and Hsu land. The Bye Preserve has a parking area off High Ridge Road – on the east – close to the Stamford border. Open dawn till dusk. PRLC maintained.
In the 1930s Hiram Halle planted a spruce plantation on this five acre preserve located on Stone Hill Road. In 1969, Robert Lawther gave the land to The Nature Conservancy in memory of his wife Carolin. The Halle Ravine Committee, working with the Pound Ridge Elementary School and the town, created trails and open classrooms for the elementary school on this land and the abutting town-owned property. The trails are open to the public for passive recreation and are a valuable resource for students’ field trips. Carolin’s Grove has a parking area off Stone Hill Road. Open dawn till dusk. PRLC maintained.
This gift of seventy acres was given to the PRLC by Ben and Charlotte Clark The trails lead through highland, swamp, woodland and field. Stone fences, rock outcroppings and specimen trees show the variations of terrain that make Pound Ridge so special. The upper trail leads to an overlook and then a field of cedars and dogwood. The hub is at the south end of a five- acre field, perfect for birding. A magnificent Black Birch, White Oaks, Beech and Tulip trees dot the woodlands. A wetland trail was added in 2001. The Clark Preserve is accessible from a parking area off Autumn Ridge Road. Open dawn till dusk.
The Halle Ravine of 38 acres is an exceptionally scenic preserve dominated by a steep gorge and stream running through a majestic first-growth hemlock forest. A red maple swamp surrounds two ponds near the main entrance. The preserve is a haven for numerous species of birds that feed and breed on the property. A variety of ferns and a profusion of wildflowers including trout lily, purple trillium and baneberry enhance this idyllic setting. The trails are well marked and there are stone benches for resting and contemplation. The Halle Ravine entrance is on Trinity Pass just south of Donbrook Road at a white gate set in a bordering stone wall. Open dawn till dusk.
Mary Jane and Ed Russell donated 9 acres of land with frontage on High Ridge Road just south of Upper Shad Road and running in an easterly direction to Old Mill River. Planned as a bird sanctuary some years ago, it includes 1.5 acres of man-made pond and many trees and shrubs that were planted to provide food and shelter for bird life. Over 100 different species of birds have been observed. They include Woodcock, Great Blue Heron, Bittern, Golden Winged Warbler, American Redstart, nesting Screech Owls, Crested Flycatchers, Wood Ducks, and many others. The Russell Preserve is accessed from the east side of High Ridge Road just south of Upper Shad Road. Open dawn till dusk.
At the Richards Preserve, located off Honey Hollow Road, a fully blazed and marked loop trail enables hikers to access a wide, low-lying watershed strewn with boulders and an intermittent stream flowing north into the Cross River Reservoir. The trail rises up to an elevated plateau with grassy groundcover from former pasture use, particularly beautiful in the spring. One gets a glimpse of the Reservoir before descending to the lower loop trail which climbs up through a stand of hemlocks, then down again to watershed passing a huge glacial erratic boulder, an old farmer’s road and a hand-dug stone well for capturing water for grazing animals. The Preserve features a hardwood forest with a predominance of black birch and sugar maples along with ash, beech, tulip, hickory, black oaks, white oaks and chestnut oaks, often in surprising and unique proximity. Click here to view the Richard’s Armstrong Connection Trail
The Armstrong Preserve A trail starts at a small parking area at 1361 Old Post Road (Rt. 121) and initially follows the uphill driveway to the Armstrong House Education Center before turning right onto an old dirt road which passes a vernal pool at the base of a rock cliff and bisects the Armstrong Preserve’s meadow where research and management activity is currently underway. From there, the trail turns south and follows a spring-fed shallow creek to a stonewall marking the Preserve’s boundary. The Preserve’s only other trail – the ¼ mile Armstrong Loop, marked white – is set along a variety of topographical features and plant communities to make an exciting and diverse hiking experience. Here, see a dry oak-hickory forest, an enormous bedrock outcropping and mountain laurel-chestnut oak woodland.
The Armstrong Preserve makes the PRLC unique among other local, small-scale land trusts. In addition to keeping a nature preserve for wildlife (common among land trusts), the Armstrong Preserve is the site of the PRLC’s Armstrong House Education Center, an integrated, working landscape used to demonstrate sustainable land use practices. For example, we demonstrate invasive plant removal, meadow habitat enhancement, local food production and composting, and best-management practices of our vernal pool and soil. With people the world over calling for local protection of resources, local production of food and inputs, as well as lifestyle choices reducing one’s environmental footprint, the Armstrong House Education Center is a prototype of integrated local resource protection and production. From the electricity harnessed from the sun to our backyard beehive, life choices made at the Armstrong are intended to reduce our pressures on our planet’s resources. Click here to read more about the Armstrong House Education Center.
The Armstrong Preserve – Richards Preserve – Ward Pound Ridge County Park Connection Trail
By utilizing a small linkage trail that crosses NYDEP land, it is possible to hike from the Armstrong Preserve off Rt 121, through the Richards Preserve and onto the Ward-Pound Ridge County Park. From the Armstrong Preserve, take the yellow trail south off of the property. The linkage trail – also marked yellow – runs adjacent to the Cross River Reservoir, up and over a bedrock outcrop, to present a stunning view of the reservoir. If you are lucky, you can spot swallows over the water in the summer or swimming mergansers in the spring. The trail crosses a small babbling brook before reaching the Richards Preserve. The Richards Preserve has a single loop trail (marked white) that intersects Honey Hollow Road to the east. Make a left onto Honey Hollow Road and in 0.2 miles, take the trail on right into Ward-Pound Ridge County Park.
» Aerial View (coming soon)
The Eastwoods Preserve – purchased by the Town of Pound Ridge in 2009, maintained by the Pound Ridge Conservation Board in partnership with the Pound Ridge Land Conservancy
The 30-acre Eastwoods Preserve was acquired by the Town of Pound Ridge in 2009 with Open Space Acquisition Funding. The trail is maintained by the Town’s Conservation Board in partnership with the Pound Ridge Land Conservancy. The Eastwoods Preserve is situated roughly between Trinity Lake and the Siscowit Reservoir on Eastwoods Road and is part of a low-density residential region of Pound Ridge, where large tracts of forestland still remain. The preserve is covered primarily by a beautiful dry upland forest of oaks, maple, birch, mountain laurel and beech and is also home to hemlock groves growing over a series of undulating small hills and valleys. A wetland bisects the Preserve. This stunning landscape is a must see for Pound Ridge residents. A 1-mile loop trail leaves from a small parking lot located on the north side of Eastwoods Road, between Laurel Road and Old Church Lane.
Preserves Without Trails
Most of PRLC’s preserves do not contain trails and are not places where we host outdoor recreation. Instead, these preserves act as refuges for wildlife and their ecosystems. These pockets of wild space are home to fox, coyote, hawks, turtles, weasels, great blue herons and a variety of plant communities ranging from the dry oak-hickory woodlands of our ridge tops to the red maple-fern swamps of our lowlands.
Honey Hollow Preserve
This 16 acre preserve off of Honey Hollow Road contains mature hardwood forest and a shrubby wetland that provide valuable habitat to wildlife moving into or out of the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.
These 32 acres, off Donbook Road, contain a series of special habits, including fens, highland meadow of cedars and dogwood, and a low-lying bird sanctuary.
Della Torre Preserve
These 3.5 acres, with large rock outcroppings and a stream running through it, is not accessible, since it is landlocked behind residences on Hack Green Road and Siscowit Road.
This is 2.5 acres of beautiful meadowland right on Fancher Road, protecting an important viewshed in town.
These 2.8 acres on Trinity Pass preserves a developable lot in perpetuity and also protects a wooded viewshed.
Old Stone Hill
With almost 9 acres of mature hardwood forest and a stream corridor bordering Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, this parcel extends a vast area of protection to wildlife north of Old Stone Hill Road.
Robert Whitehead Preserve
This 29 acres of woodlands, wetlands, steep slopes and rock outcroppings feels wildly remote. It is bordered by Salem Road and Stone Hill Road. Miss Caldwell and her sons donated the land in memory of her husband and their father, Robert Whitehead, who passed away in 2002. “This land is so beautiful, and it has always been a kind of refuge for our family,” said Miss Caldwell. “We are very happy to be able to preserve it, and we are sure Robert – who loved it as well – would agree wholeheartedly.”
Our newest preserve, this parcel protects a developable lot and connects to the Robert Whitehead Preserve.
8 acres of forested land and wetlands that abut Lake Kitchawan, this preserve harbors incredible wildlife within its dense shrub thicket.
This preserve consists of two parcels of shrubby wetland bordering Lake Kitchawan, one which is 35 acres and the other 12 acres. It is pristine habitat for amphibians and local and migratory birdlife.
Other Walking Trails in Pound Ridge
The Westchester Wilderness Walk
150 acres of diverse terrain, the Westchester Wilderness Walk offers over 10 miles of meandering hiking trails. The Walk offers the hiker such highlights as a stairway of stepping-stones mounting through the middle of a cascading waterfall. Some sections of the trail are steep and hiking boots are recommended. (more info) Access is at the trailhead off Upper Shad Road, between High Ridge and Long Ridge Roads. Open dawn till dusk. This Preserve is maintained by the Westchester Land Trust.
The Morgenthau Preserve
The Henry Morgenthau Preserve of 34 acres is set along the shore of 100-acre Blue Heron Lake, the preserve includes a portion of the lake, a small island, wetlands, vernal ponds, a small stream and woodlands. A 35-year old lakeshore conifer plantation is gradually giving way to neighboring hardwoods. A 200-year-old oak can be found on the yellow trail. Numerous waterfowl, shorebirds and songbirds are present. (more info) The preserve is on Rt. 172, on the south, near the intersection with Tatomuck Road. Look for a small parking area with a sign to the right. Open dawn till dusk. This Preserve is maintained by the Nature Conservancy.
Mianus River Gorge Preserve
The Mianus River Gorge Preserve, Inc. protects over 750 acres. The cool, moist micro-climate provides an ideal environment for the growth of a climax forest of oak, beech, black birch and eastern hemlocks, estimated in many instances to be up to 300 years old. The terrain is rugged and spectacular with mineral outcroppings of many varieties and bold rocky promontories jutting out in the gorge. The river makes its way to Mianus Harbor on Long Island Sound. Over 800 species of trees, shrubs and vines; wildflowers, ferns and lichens; birds and animals; and reptiles, fishes and amphibians have been identified and catalogued. (www.mianus.org). The Gorge is open daily 9:30 until 5:50: April through November. From Long Ridge Road, take Miller’s Mill Road to Mianus River Road. There is parking for 30 cars; maps are available at the trail shelter. This Preserve is maintained by the Nature Conservancy. (more info)
Ward Pound Ridge Reservation
This wonderful County park of 4,700 acres, over 3,000 of which are in Pound Ridge, was assembled under the leadership of William Ward in 1925. The main entrance is on Route 121 in Cross River. Open dawn till dusk. This Park is maintained by Westchester County. (more info)
Pound Ridge Town Park
The town park has 3 different walking trails. A walking trail through the woods at the back of the park; a small nature path rings the pond; a paved trail leads from the park to Scotts Corners. Note: In addition to the above 357 acres owned outright by the Pound Ridge Land Conservancy, PRLC also holds a conservation easement on the Zofnass Family Preserve, 5.7 acres off Upper Shad that serves as a continuation of the Westchester Wilderness Walk and is owned by Westchester Land Trust. PRLC also holds a conservation easement on the Pauley-Trudeau Preserve, another 46.692 acres, also part of the Westchester Wilderness Walk, owned by Westchester Land Trust. PRLC holds backup easements on those parcels in Pound Ridge owned by the Westchester Land Trust.