© Charles Gleberman Photography

Places We Protect

Stewart Preserve

New York

Enjoy a peaceful walk through hemlock groves and hardwood forest.

This 123-acre preserve was acquired in 1966 as a gift from Dorothy England. The England family owned the eastern portion of the preserve. The western portion was purchased by George Cooley who donated it to the Eastern New York Chapter. The preserve is named after Dorothy England’s son Stewart, who died in a logging accident on nearby Bearcat Mountain.

Farming took place on the preserve’s eastern portion through the 1920s and some logging and grazing continued on the western portion until about 1950.

Before you visit, download a trail map. When hiking, please wear sturdy shoes and bring a map, water, and snack and rain gear.

There are two trails; an orange-marked trail which is 1.1 miles long; and a blue-marked trail which is ¾ of a mile long. Both trails are moderately hilly and may be wet underfoot, especially in the early spring. Allow 1.5 hours to complete both loops.

Along the orange trail in the eastern portion of the preserve, the forest consists primarily of hardwoods, dominated by oak and sugar maples. There is a beech tree with a 32-inch diameter and an 80-foot spread. Some giant oak trees measure up to 50 inches in diameter. The oaks may remain from old fence rows or they may be single specimens left in pastures to provide shade for animals. Some, saved by their thick bark, may even be survivors of the fires set by Indians before the Europeans arrived. A good place to look for the large oaks is along the old stone fences which the orange trail crosses. Look to the left after the blue trail junction and again to the right not far from the orange trail’s return to the sign-in box.

Beyond the hardwoods, the orange trail passes through a magnificent hemlock grove. Another hemlock grove can be found near the start of the blue trail, which climbs a rather steep hill that provides an expansive view when the leaves are down.

The many stone walls that the trails cross are reminders that 100 years ago, much of this was cleared land.

Twenty-two fern species and six fern allies are found at this site along with many spring-blooming flowers in the moist lowlands. These include violets, hepatica, miterwort, foamflower, baneberry, and starflower.

The preserve is located in the towns of Sand Lake and Nassau, Rensselaer County, New York.