Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Easy Hike. Harder Hike. You Choose!

The West Branch Preserve is a great hike if you have a spare hour or afternoon. This 446 acres site has as its southern boundary the West Branch of the Delaware River - thus its name. To the north, the preserve extends to a mountain ridge 1,000 feet above the river valley. Woodlands make up some 250 acres. Of these, about 200 acres were logged 25 years ago, while the remaining 50 acres are thought to be the location of a farm abandoned in the 1830s.

The site is located in the Town of Hamden, about 10 miles west of Delhi. From Delhi on State Hwy. 10 going west about 9 miles, County 26 joins Rte. 10 from left. The preserve entrance and parking area are on the right hand side of Rte. 10, 9/10ths of a mile beyond the junction with County Route 26.

From the parking lot a path leads uphill across a meadow to the woods and a sign-in box. There are two trails, a 0.7 mile trail marked in blue markers with a moderate ascent and a 2.0 mile marked in orange on an old logging road that has a steep climb and should be attempted only by experienced hikers.

On the blue trail you can see stands of pines and hemlocks and on the orange trail you will find erosion control bumps and trees like the sugar maple, red maple, beech, and oak. In some parts of the woodlands you might see deer and near the Delaware River you will find the rare riverweed, an endangered plant species.

Both the Emmons Pond Bog and the West Branch Preserve are Nature Conservancy Preserves. The Nature Conservancy, incorporated in 1951, is an international membership organization devoted to the preservation of biological diversity through habitat conservation. For more information on the Nature Conservancy and its preserves in the region, please contact The Nature Conservancy (518) 272-0195.