Pitch Pine Forest
Pitch Pine Forest © Mark Godfrey/TNC

Places We Protect

Denton Sanctuary

New York

Enjoy the ecological diversity – forests, swamps, open thickets and grassy barrens – found at the preserve.

Located on a historically important transportation corridor, this preserve borders the Hudson River on the west and contains stretches of an abandoned canal and an old electric trolley line.

Originally the site was part of a land patent granted in 1732 to William Kettlehuyn, a merchant, and Cornelius Cuyler, a yeoman, both from Albany. They claimed they bought the land from the Indians. Today, the land is mostly wooded, but an open area marks the location of shale mining operations, which continued into the 1970s.

Between Route 4 and an abandoned shale pit, the entrance passes over the old Champlain Canal, which was opened in 1822 and abandoned when the present canal, which follows the Hudson, was opened in 1917. The old canal is gradually filling with vegetation. To view what is left of one of the old canal’s locks, go north about 0.7 miles from the entrance and look on the right hand side of the road for the old granite blocks which lined the locks.

There are forests, swamps, open thickets, and grassy barrens on the shale. In the shale area, there are earth stars – puffballs whose outer skin splits into a star-like shape. There are some notable groves of white pine and red maple in the forested area. In open areas along the yellow trail, you will find pitch pine and scrub oaks – the same species found in the Albany Pine Bush and on Cape Cod. The plant community is also evidence of past fire at the site. Waterfowl are common in the wetlands, and deer, beaver, mink and partridge are numerous throughout the preserve.

A loop trail (Miller’s Mile) with orange markers, about two-thirds of a mile long, begins from the trail box at the rear of the open area where shale was mined. The terrain consists mostly of shale ridges running north and south, so there are some short but steep ascents and descents. A second trail (Burger Loop) with yellow markers, 1.3 miles long, also starts from the trail box and follows in part the bed of the old Greenwich-Schuylerville electric trolley line. A third trail, marked with blue blazes, parallels Route 4 before turning east at the expansive wetlands of Van Atwerp Creek and rejoining the yellow trail.

This 350-acre preserve is located in Greenwich, Washington County, New York.

When hiking, please wear sturdy shoes and bring a map, water, and snack and rain gear. Download a trail map