Places We Protect

Arthur W. Butler Memorial Sanctuary

New York

Don't forget to look up at the magical twists and turns of Butler's six forest communities.
Into the Canopy Don't forget to look up at the magical twists and turns of Butler's six forest communities. © Charles Gleberman

This land’s rugged outcrops and boulder-strewn hills provide a solid foundation for deciduous forests, flowing streams and swamps teeming with flora and fauna.

Overview

Description

Why We Selected This Site

In 1954, Mrs. Butler donated 225 acres of land to The Nature Conservancy in honor of her husband, making it the organization’s first donated preserve and the first wildlife refuge in the town of Bedford. Through additional donations and purchases it has grown to its present size.

What We Do Here

Each fall, visitors flock to the preserve to observe migrating birds of prey. Visitors can find interpretive materials that explain the phenomenon of mass migration and help to identify the many raptor species passing overhead.

The Nature Conservancy is helping protect and conserve Arthur W. Butler’s natural landscape by analyzing deer impact on the forests and managing invasive species to encourage forest regeneration.

Additionally, we’re increasing access to nature by providing transportation to this preserve, a key part of our equitable preserve access efforts. Learn more about this initiative in an interview with Preserve Stewardship Coordinator Marcela Maldonado Medina.

Access

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Hours

Open year-round from dawn until dusk.

Size

363 acres

Explore our work in New York

Visit

  • Hours of Visitation

    Arthur W. Butler Memorial Sanctuary is open year-round from dawn until dusk.

  • Parking

    Free parking is available at the Arthur W. Butler Memorial Sanctuary. There are 10 spots available. Overflow parking is allowed along Lake Bridge.

  • What to See

    Wildlife: The Robert J. Hammershlag Hawkwatch is an excellent spot to observe a variety of hawks, falcons and other raptors during the autumn hawk migration. Other animals on the preserve include white-tailed deer, red fox, coyote, great-horned owls, barred owls and screech owls. The summer brings songbirds such as wood thrush, warblers and scarlet tanagers.

    Plants: There are six forest communities on the preserve: oak-dominant mixed hardwood, oak-hickory, mixed mesophytic, hemlock-mixed hardwood, hemlock dominant and wetland swamp forest. There are also several areas of white pine and Norway spruce plantations.

  • Hunting Information

    Arthur W. Butler Memorial Sanctuary is open during hunting season (Oct 1 - Dec 21, Dec 26 - Jan 1) to bow hunting only. Written permission is required to hunt on TNC lands. To learn about our hunting program or to obtain permission to hunt, please visit our New York hunting information page.

  • Trail Information and Map

    Explore all that Arthur W. Butler Memorial Sanctuary has to offer in our trail map. There are five main trails and three connector trails at The Arthur W. Butler Memorial Sanctuary. Together, they total 6.5 miles.

    Here’s what to expect on when you hit the trails:

    The Butler Loop is a moderate-to-difficult hike and is marked (or “blazed”) with red circles on the map and at the preserve. The trail is 3.0 miles long and begins at the main trailhead. It passes through rugged outcrops and boulder-strewn hills, deciduous forests, flowing streams, and swamps teeming with flora and fauna on a natural soil surface trail. Expect 772 feet of elevation gain and a typical trail width of 50 inches; at its narrowest, the trail is 10 inches wide. The typical grade (incline) is 11.8%, with a maximum grade of 47.6% and a typical cross slope (the incline across the trail) of 5.1%. (By comparison, an easy trail usually has less than a 5% incline, a maximum grade of 15% and a cross slope of 0). Expect natural stream crossings and some obstructions, such as rocks, roots and fallen trees.

    The Long Trail is a moderate hike and is marked (or “blazed”) with blue squares on the map and at the preserve. The trail is 1.5 miles long and starts at the trailhead off Byram Lake Road. The trail can also be accessed off the Butler Loop. The Long Trail takes you from one end of the preserve to the other, through deciduous forests, wetlands and rocky outcrops. Expect 291 feet of elevation gain and a typical trail width of 30 inches; at its narrowest, the trail is 19 inches wide. The typical grade (incline) is 9.6% with a maximum grade of 55.1%, and a typical cross slope of 6.0%. (By comparison, an easy trail usually has less than a 5% incline, a maximum grade of 15% and a cross slope of 0.) Expect both natural and built stream crossings and minimal obstructions, such as rocks, roots and fallen trees.

    The Fern Trail is an easy hike and is marked (or “blazed”) with orange squares on the map and at the preserve. The trail is 0.9 miles long and starts from the Butler Loop. This trail takes you through a wetland that, from spring through early fall, is carpeted with several species of ferns. Expect 153.8 feet of elevation gain and a typical trail width of 23 inches; at its narrowest, the trail is 10 inches wide. The typical grade (incline) is 7% with a maximum grade of 30.9%, and a typical cross slope of 5.6%. (By comparison, an easy trail usually has less than a 5% incline, a maximum grade of 15% and a cross slope of 0.) Expect both natural and built stream crossings and frequent obstructions, including rocks, roots and muddy sections.

    The Hawkwatch Loop is an easy hike marked (or “blazed”) with yellow triangles on the map and at the preserve. The trail is 0.5 miles long and starts at the main trailhead. The trail is a short loop that takes you to the Robert J. Hammerschlag Hawkwatch, part of a network of hawk-watching sites across the United States. Expect 139 feet of elevation gain and a typical trail width of 41 inches; at its narrowest, the trail is 10 inches wide. The typical grade (incline) is 9.7% with a maximum grade of 32.4%, and a typical cross slope of 4.9%. (By comparison, an easy trail usually has less than a 5% incline, a maximum grade of 15% and a cross slope of 0.) There are no stream crossings and only minor obstructions, such as rocks, roots and fallen trees.

    The Balancing Rock Trail is a moderate hike marked (or “blazed”) with yellow triangles on the map and at the preserve. The trail is 0.3 miles long and begins at the Butler Loop. Expect 80 feet of elevation gain, a typical trail width of 29 inches and the narrowest part of the trail to be 9 inches. The typical grade (incline) is 11% with a maximum grade of 40%, and a typical cross slope of 5%. (By comparison, an easy trail usually has less than a 5% incline, a maximum grade of 15% and a cross slope of 0.) There are no stream crossings and some obstructions, such as rocks, roots and fallen trees.

    The four connector trails are each less than 0.2 miles long and connect different sections of the main trails. They are blazed with white squares. Expect elevation gains between 1 to 50 feet, typical grades between 10 and 11% , maximum grades between 20 and 31% and cross slopes of 5%. Typical trail width is between 20 and 30 inches; the narrowest trail is 10 inches wide. Expect no stream crossings on any of the connector trails and some obstructions, such as rocks, roots and fallen trees.

     

  • Guidelines

    To help ensure that this special place can be enjoyed for future generations, please leave no trace and carry out what you carry in. Camping, littering, hunting, fires or removal or destruction of plants or animals are prohibited. See our full preserve visitation guidelines for more information.

Nature’s Wonders at Butler Memorial Sanctuary

Get a sneak peek at the diversity of plants and scenic overlooks available for exploration at our preserve. Click each photo to enable a larger view.

Find More Places We Protect

The Nature Conservancy owns nearly 1,500 preserves covering more than 2.5 million acres across all 50 states. These lands protect wildlife and natural systems, serve as living laboratories for innovative science and connect people to the natural world.

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