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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.
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
From interstate 86