Places We Protect

New York

West Branch Preserve

Explore mountainsides and forests.

An energetic climb at this preserve takes you part way up a mountainside and through forests which are the habitat of abundant wildlife. The stand of pines and hemlocks reached by the blue trail probably grew up in a clearing left from the farm that was abandoned in the 1830s. A powerful wind storm in 2003 uprooted many of the specimen trees.

The path from the sign-in box located near the parking area leads gently uphill across a meadow to an intersection. Half way to the intersection on the right is a huge red oak tree; on the left side of the trail a very large white oak is in the meadow. Straight ahead from the intersection, a 0.5-mile trail with blue markers leads through a magnificent grove of old pines and hemlocks and overlooks a mountain stream. The ascent is moderate and rejoins the lower orange trail where visitors can continue uphill by turning left, or return to the intersection and trailhead by heading right.

Turning right at the previous intersection a 2.0-mile trail with orange markers follows an old logging road. Suited for experienced hikers, this trail climbs steeply up the mountainside, then loops to the left and returns steeply downhill to the meadow, near the starting point. What appear to be ‘speed bumps’ on the orange trail are not designed to slow traffic, but to slow erosion by diverting water so it doesn’t form gullies as it runs directly down the road.

Before you visit, please download a trail map.

Sugar maple, red maple, and beech trees are found along the orange trail. Oak trees are located on the upper slopes of the trail. Riverweed (Podostemum ceratophyllum), which is included in New York state’s list of rare, endangered, and threatened plant species, grows in the Delaware River in the southern part of this site.

A new trail has been constructed to connect the preserve with the Catskill Scenic Rail Trail. The new trail begins across route 10 from the West Branch Preserve Parking Lot.

This 450-acre preserve is located in the Town of Hamden in Delaware County, NY.