New York

Eldridge Wilderness

This preserve near Ithaca offers a diversity of forest communities

Open to the Public


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In 1971 Frank L. Eldridge donated this land to The Nature Conservancy. Perched high on Ithaca’s south Hill, the 87-acre Eldridge Wilderness is a mosaic of different plant communities.

The preserve includes a variety of early and late plant succession areas. Plant succession is the gradual process in which herbaceous plants, shrubs and trees occupy an open area that was previously impacted by fire, farming or intense flooding. Eldridge Wilderness includes a variety of early and late plant succession areas and a small gorge along the southeast boundary where the stream drains into Six Mile Creek.

The trail enters a second-growth hardwood forest with medium sized chestnut oak, shagbark hickory and White ash.  Second-growth forests are forests that are formed on areas that were previously farmed.  The trail then enters an upland area that was farmed until the 1950s. A wagon road, built in the middle of this area, served as an access road for lumbering and farming operations.

The trail then follows the side of a gorge through a mature mixed forest with red oak and chestnut oak, Beech, Sugar maple and a grove of large Hemlocks.  Come and enjoy the tranquil beauty of this fascinating preserve.

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Eldridge is unique because of many different plant communities that are common to the U.S. Northeast are represented. In addition, natural and man-made disturbances have influenced plant succession in specific areas and have added to the variation within the preserve.

Many species of flora and fauna have been identified in the preserve, including 118 species of birds, 50 species of trees and over 75 species of wildflowers. Look for birds such as pileated woodpecker, wood thrush, ovenbird, scarlet tanager and red-eyed vireo.

This 87-acre preserve is located in Tompkins County, NY

In May 2013, the trail will be equipped with a series of interpretive signs that will tell you more about the history and natural features of the land. In the meantime, you can take a virtual tour by exploring the pages below:


This 87-acre preserve is located in Tompkins County, NY.

From downtown Ithaca

  • Head south on N Albany st toward Esty st
  • Take the 2nd left onto W Buffalo St
  • Turn right onto Schuyler Pl
  • Turn right onto E Martin Luther King State st
  • Turn left onto S Aurora st
  • Turn left onto Hudson St
  • Continue onto Coddington Rd/Co Rd 119
  • Slight right onto Co Rd 123/Troy Rd
  • Look for preserve on left.

From interstate 86

  • Head east on I-86 E
  • Take exit 54 to merge onto NY-13 N toward Ithaca
  • At the traffic circle, continue straight onto NY-13
  • Turn right onto Elmira Rd/S Meadow St. Continue to follow Elmira Rd.
  • At traffic circle, take the 1st exit onto W Spencer St
  • Slight left onto Stone Quarry Rd
  • Turn left onto W king Rd
  • Turn right onto Co Rd 123/Troy Rd
  • Look for preserve on left.

Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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