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Central & Western New York

Hikes, Events and Work Days

Connect with Nature in Central & Western New York

Pick from three great ways to connect with nature — sign up now for a bird walk, hike or volunteer activity. 

Space is limited and registration is first come, first served. Please wear weather-appropriate clothing and footwear and bring your own drinking water, snacks, binoculars and/or camera. Depending on the weather, don't forget sunscreen, hat and insect repellent. No pets, please. For work days, please bring work gloves and loppers or hand saws if you have them. Most activities are rain or shine but please check your e-mail the morning of the event in case there are any last minute messages.

Questions? Email

Spring Bird Walks with Chapter Director Jim Howe

For members only
Register for bird walks.

Spring migration is a magical time of year in Central & Western New York, and a recent Nature Conservancy study showed lakeshore and urban wilds are both critical to migratory birds. 

This is a special chance for our members to explore some of the region's top urban spots for migrating songbirds with chapter director Jim Howe and special guest birders. All walks are easy, slow in pace and begin at 7:30 am. 

  • Tifft Nature Preserve, Buffalo, Thurs., May 14, 7:30-9:30 am 
  • St. Mary’s Cemetery, DeWitt, Fri., May 15, 7:30-9:30 am 
  • O.D. von Engeln Preserve, Freeville, Thurs., May 21, 7:30-9:30 am
  • Cobbs Hill Park, Rochester, Fri., May 22, 7:30-9:30 am
Hikes & Walks 

Mystery Plants, Freeville
Sun., May 31, 10 am-12 pm
Spring wildflowers are known as "ephemerals"--most only bloom for a few days--so exactly what we'll encounter on this walk is a bit of a mystery. Join The Nature Conservancy and botanist Carol Morris as we explore the O.D. von Engeln Preserve, discovering lichens, mosses, ferns, conifers and flowering plants. Carol Morris is retired biology professor of Tompkins Cortland Community College. This is an easy hike and is over flat terrain and a boardwalk.

Wild Edibles, Penfield
Sat., June 20, 10 am-12 pm 
Join The Nature Conservancy and Friends of the Thousand Acre Swamp Sanctuary to learn about wild edibles! Does it taste good? Is it good for you? Find out what you can eat in the Swamp with leader Frank Crombe. This is an easy hike on mostly flat terrain and boardwalk.

Wonders of Eldridge Wilderness, Ithaca
Sat., July 11, 10 am-12 pm
Join The Nature Conservancy's Gregg Sargis for an exploration of the natural history of the Finger Lakes region and the Ithaca area. This moderate 1.5-mile hike takes us through a cool forest and old fields where we’ll unlock the mysteries of the past using clues visible on the preserve today. This hike is geared for all ages, but does travel rolling terrain and may pass sections of wet, loose trails.

Paddle Canadice Lake
Sat., July 25, 9 am-1 pm 
Come join Nature Conservancy staff as we paddle the 7-mile perimeter of Canadice Lake’s beautifully forested and undeveloped shoreline. Along the way we will look for wildlife and discuss conservation – both past and present - in the Finger Lakes. Come prepared for a moderate to strenuous adventure circumnavigating the highest and smallest of the Finger Lakes! Attendees MUST provide their own canoe/kayak, paddles and personal flotation devices.

Work Days & Citizen Science 

Thousand Acre Swamp Work Day, Penfield
Sat., April 11, 9:30 am-12 pm 
Help with our spring clean-up of one of Monroe County's largest wetland systems and assist with preparations for our new butterfly meadow. Activities may include moderate trail work and boardwalk repair, trail map sign installation, and clearing vegetation to make way for new butterfly habitat.

Chaumont Barrens Work Day
Sat., April 25, 9:30 am-12 pm 
As we prepare for an upcoming project to remove buckthorn and other invasive species from rare alvar meadows, we’ll ask our volunteers to assist in determining priority areas for treatment. We will search for and flag meadows that contain rare wildflowers and other native plant species, and that are being threatened by the encroachment of invasive brush. 

Hemlock Wooly Adelgid Blitz, Elmira
Tues., May 5, 10 am-2 pm 
Help protect the beautiful hemlock stands of the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions. The Nature Conservancy and Tanglewood Nature Center need your help to survey hemlock trees for a destructive invasive pest, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA), before it spreads. With guidance from Cornell University entomology experts we will canvas the Frenchman’s Bluff and Tanglewood Nature Center forests in search of HWA. You’ll first learn to identify Hemlock trees and signs of HWA. Teams will then scout for the forest pest across different areas. Please come prepared to hike off trail in uneven terrain.

Eldridge Wilderness Work Day, Ithaca
Sat., May 16, 9:30 am-12 pm 
Perched high on Ithaca’s South Hill, the 87-acre Eldridge Wilderness is a mosaic of different plant communities. Help get this South Hill gem ready for the busy summer season. We’ll be fixing drainage issues, removing branches and trees from the trail, and repairing interpretive signs.

El Dorado Work Day
Sat., May 30, 9:30 am – 12 pm 
The waves and currents of Lake Ontario bring with them the debris of surrounding cities. Help us clean up El Dorado’s beautiful beaches and shoreline, improving the visitor experience and habitat for amphibians and migrating birds.

Blue Lupine Restoration, Rome
Wed., June 10, 9:30 am-12 pm 
The blue lupine planting at Rome Sand Plains is an annual event to help restore an important part of the Rome Sand Plains, and a vital food source for the frosted elfin butterfly.  In the fall our volunteers collect lupine seeds from those that we've planted in previous years, and they spend the winter sprouting in a nursery.  Help us plant these seedlings and lend a hand to a threatened butterfly!

French Creek Work Day
Sat. June 13, 9:30 am-12 pm 
Not only is French Creek the most biologically diverse aquatic system in the Northeast, but it also contains five times more species than the average New York stream! Help us fixing a large boardwalk section near the preserve’s entrance so that more people can enjoy this remarkable place.

Water Chestnut Pull
Sat., July 11, 8:30-11 am
Invasive species are a leading cause of environmental and economic damage. They significantly reduce the quality of native habitats, impede recreational uses of our waterways and interfere with terrestrial ecosystems. This session is two parts – an introduction to five common invasive species along with the skills to monitor your favorite water body or landscape followed by an optional two-hour canoe and/or kayak the Salmon River Estuary to hand pull invasive plant Water Chestnut. Part two requires that you bring your own canoe or kayak and safety equipment.

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