Eldridge Wilderness

Trail #3

This stretch of the trail features a field in the process of natural succession.

This successional old field is clue to past land use. This area was likely farmed until the 1950s. Since then, natural seeding has produced an extensive community of plants common to old fields.

When no longer plowed, the exposed soil of an abandoned field becomes colonized first by herbaceous plants and then by shrubs and trees. This is the process of succession. Non-native plants often colonize areas where disturbances (such as farming) have disrupted the native plant communities. They reduce plant diversity, can alter habitat, and be less palatable to native herbivores. Some non-native plants present here include bush honeysuckle, autumn olive and common buckthorn.  

This section of the preserve is poorly drained, due to soil type (silty-loam), lack of soil atop bedrock and lack of slope. This creates a muddy and saturated surface during wet periods; a main reason why the area is not farmed today.