Falls in New York's first preserve
Mianus River Gorge Falls in New York's first preserve © The Nature Conservancy

Places We Protect

New York

Mianus River Gorge Preserve

This preserve marked the Conservancy's first acquisition in 1955.

The wild Mianus River rushes through a steep gorge on its way to Long Island Sound. On its cool, moist banks, a magnificent cathedral of 350-year-old hemlocks stand more than 100 feet tall, and beyond the river, lush fern gullies surround the lovely Havemeyer Falls. At the Hobby Hill Quarry in the middle of the preserve, 18th-century mining left a gorgeous mosaic of mica, feldspar and quartz.

The Nature Conservancy holds title to 555 acres, while the remaining 183 acres is owned by the Mianus River Gorge Preserve Inc., a nonprofit, tax-exempt corporation that now manages the entire preserve.

Why We Selected This Site

Purchased in 1955, this site is The Nature Conservancy’s first land preservation project. In 1964, the federal government designated the Mianus River Gorge as the nation’s first registered Natural History Landmark because of its old-growth hemlock hardwood forest and rushing river. It is now managed by the Mianus River Gorge Preserve, Inc., a nonprofit land trust, which also owns 183 acres of the preserve.

What We Do Here

The Mianus River Gorge Preserve, Inc. manages the preserve and has several ongoing projects. They study the biological control of the woolly adelgid, an invasive insect that is preying on the preserve’s hemlocks; the control of invasive species of plants and animals; the browsing ecology of white-tailed deer; the potential for wildflower restoration; and eastern bluebird mortality. They are maintaining an ongoing inventory of plants and animals, and protecting land throughout the watershed and adjacent to the preserve through land acquisition, conservation easements and collaborations with local governments.

This preserve is open from April to November from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The preserve is closed December through March. No dogs or mountain bikes, please. Please do not disturb or collect any minerals—leave them for others to enjoy.

From the entrance kiosk, a pair of color-coded trails, complete with distance markers and directional arrows, leads you along the edge of the gorge to numerous landmarks.

The cool, moist microclimate of the gorge provides the ideal environment for the growth of a hardwood forest community of eastern hemlock, American beech and oak that is usually found in areas farther north, while the highland areas contain more oak. Some areas, recently cleared by people or by fire, display various stages of forest succession, with juniper, gray birch, dogwood, highbush blueberry and locust. More than 30 species of ferns have been identified at Mianus, including hay-scented, New York and bladder ferns.

Look for bobcats, long tailed weasels, wood turtles, eastern gray treefrogs, northern dusky salamanders, white-tailed deer and eastern turkeys.

This 738-acre preserve is located in Bedford, Westchester County, New York.