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Formed 12,000 years ago by a catastrophic flood, Gadway Sandstone Pavement Barrens Preserve is by far the Conservancy's most interesting and unusual Adirondack preserve.
The area was formed when glacial till was scoured off the flatrock, resulting in the exposure of an expansive rippled "beach" of Potsdam sandstone.
Gadway Barrens represents an outstanding example of a sandstone pavement barren, a globally rare natural community found in fewer than 20 sites around the world.
The Nature Conservancy and the Adirondack Land Trust have worked cooperatively with the Miner Institute and the State University of New York at Plattsburgh to conduct scientific research at this unique site.
The trail begins at the register located at the edge of the parking area and is approximately ½ mile long. It is a relatively flat, loop trail that gives visitors a sense of how changes in elevation and soil depth affect species composition of the preserve. The exposed sandstone can heat up to more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit in July and August. A preserve guide is available from the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, the Adirondack Land Trust and at the trail register.
You may hear songbirds at the preserve, but thin soils prevent most animals from establishing homes here. Jack pine, a fire-dependent species, is the only tree species that can survive in these extreme conditions of poor, thin soil and minimal nutrients. The understory is composed primarily of heath shrubs, such as blueberry and huckleberry, which can withstand flooding as well as drought. You can also find a wide diversity of lichens and mosses.
This 520-acre preserve is located near the Canadian border town of Mooers.