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New York

Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park


Once the basin of a large glacial lake, Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park is now characterized by gently rolling sand plains, small wetlands and vernal pools. Colorful Karner Blue butterflies float gracefully through the air in the spring and summer, and their larvae find nourishment in the native lupine and wildflowers that cover the ground.

In 1996, The Nature Conservancy, the Town of Wilton and partners established the Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park as a special community-based conservation program—a balance between people, community and habitat. The program's mission is to conserve ecological systems and natural settings while providing opportunities for environmental education and recreational experiences.

Conservation Strategy

The Nature Conservancy, together with local, state and federal agencies, is applying the best conservation science toward restoring and managing the Karner blue butterfly's habitat, using the following strategies:

  • Identifying critical butterfly habitat using innovative science, and protecting that habitat through fee acquisition and conservation easements.
  • Restoring habitat by removing encroaching vegetation and planting wild blue lupine and nectar species that the Karner depends upon.
Partners

The program represents a partnership between The Nature Conservancy, the Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park, Inc., the Town of Wilton, and the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation and Saratoga County. Additional partners include the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.

Twelve miles of trails are open to the public for a variety of non-motorized uses. They can be accessed through five trailheads.

The preserve supports more than 120 species of birds and more than 70 species of mammals, reptiles and amphibians including eastern hognose snakes, eastern spadefoot toads, Blanding’s turtles, Karner blue butterflies and frosted elfins. Plant species include pitch pine, little bluestem grass and wild blue lupine.

Development and land conversion are causing habitat fragmentation and loss. Open areas are becoming reforested due to fire suppression and the decline of agriculture, reducing available habitat for blue lupine and other plant species that provide nectar to butterflies and food for their larvae.

Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park seeks to protect wetlands and vernal pools, which provide important breeding grounds and habitat for a diversity of reptiles and amphibians including the state-threatened Blanding’s turtle. In addition, the park focuses on the recovery of the Karner blue butterfly and the state-threatened frosted elfin.

Directions

Camp Saratoga, 310 acres, 5 miles of trail:

  • From I-87 Exit 16, head east on Ballard Road.
  • Turn right onto Edie Road.
  • At the first intersection, turn left onto Scout Road.
  • Continue until you see the main grounds; park on the left-hand side of the road.

 

Old Gick Farm, 135 acres, 1.75 miles of trail:

  • This trailhead is on Route 50, approximately 3.8 miles north of I-87 Exit 15.
  • There is a sign and parking area on your left as you head north.

 

Fox Parcel, 89 acres, 1.14 miles of trail:

  • This trailhead is on Route 50, approximately 3.8 miles north of I-87 Exit 15.
  • There is a parking area on your right, opposite the Old Gick Farm, as you head north.

 

Neilmann Parcel, 140 acres, 1.9 miles of trail:

  • Take Route 50 north from I-87 Exit 15.
  • At approximately 3.5 miles, turn right onto King Road.
  • At the first intersection, turn right on Ruggles Road.
  • There is a parking area approximately 100 yards down the road on the right hand side.

 

Opdahl Farm, 35 acres, 1 mile of trail:

  • This trail begins on Ballard Road, approximately 1 mile east of I-87 Exit 16.
  • There is an access drive before the old barn on the right hand side. Parking is in a cleared field.
Discussion

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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