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At the O.D. von Engeln Preserve at Malloryville, more than a mile of eskers — ancient river beds that once ran through glaciers — wind through a pocket of forest adjacent to Fall Creek. At the foot of the eskers, groundwater bubbles up in a constant stream of minerals that nurture rare plants and a wide variety of animals.
The amazing diversity of wetland habitats within the preserve, from bogs to fens to wooded swamps, nurtures a variety of rare plants and natural communities found in few other places in New York.
In 2001, AES Cayuga, the NY State Electric & Gas Company, the Howland Foundation, the Rothenberg Family Foundation and Trex Company helped support construction of a new trail system and information kiosk, and publication of a new preserve brochure.
The preserve is named for Cornell geology professor O.D. von Engeln (1880-1965), who wished to see the site managed and protected as a nature preserve and bequeathed funds that, years later, made its protection possible. Neighbors and longtime Conservancy supporters Bob and Gwen Beck, and their sons, Nathan and Gordon, made a critical donation of 35 acres at the heart of the preserve. Bob Beck who chronicles the preserve’s story in “The Journey at Malloryville Bog: Commitment, Teamwork and Tenacity in Defense of Land and Nature” (2013), was honored with The Nature Conservancy’s “Friend of the Land” award for his efforts in the 1980s & 90s to protect these diverse wetlands from adjacent gravel mine and concrete plant development.
Pileated woodpeckers eat insects, fruits, berries and nuts. They often chip out large and roughly rectangular holes in trees while searching for bugs.
The preserve is open daylight hours for bird watching and hiking the 1.75-mile trail. Try the Bog Loop Trail, the Esker Trail, or walk along an eco-friendly boardwalk built with recycled plastic composite lumber. Please tread lightly! Stay on marked trails at all times and leave the plants and wildlife for others to see. For the protection of wildlife, no pets, motor vehicles, horses, bicycles, hunting, trapping, camping or fires are allowed. Fishing is allowed in Fall Creek, which forms the eastern boundary of the preserve for several thousand feet.
Perennial spring-fed streams harbor small freshwater clams, snails, crustaceans such as amphipods, and a diversity of insects. Birds at Malloryville are diverse and abundant including northern waterthrush, Cooper's hawk, ovenbirds, owls, redstarts, scarlet tanagers, pileated woodpeckers, osprey and great blue herons.
Look for animals such as wild turkeys, gray and red fox, and ruffed grouse. A bobcat was seen here in recent years.
Many distinct plant communities thrive on the preserve's bogs, swamps, marshes and fens. Look for the pitcher plant, which lives in a nutrient-poor environment and traps insects to obtain nitrogen, from the Florence G. Beck Bog Viewing Platform. Also look for marsh marigolds, arrow arum, New England asters, trillium, jack-in-the pulpits, blueberries, and round leaf sundews. To protect these species, volunteers are trying to stem the growth of invasives such as garlic mustard, swallow-wort, buckthorn and honeysuckle.
At 309 acres, this preserve is located in Dryden, NY, within Tompkins County.
From the north or south:
- From I-81, take exit 12 to Route 281 south (left turn).
- Continue 3 miles. Turn right onto McLean Road and drive 5 miles to McLean.
- When you reach the gas station, bear left on Fall Creek Road and continue for 1.3 miles.
- Turn right on West Malloryville Road and continue 0.5 miles to the large white preserve sign and parking area on the right.
From the Ithaca area:
- Take route 13 north toward Cortland.
- Turn left on Route 366 and follow to Freeville.
- Continue straight on Fall Creek Road for 2.5 miles, then turn left onto West Malloryville Road.
- Follow for 0.5 miles to the large white preserve sign and the parking area on the right.