Welcome to the Larchmont Reservoir Conservancy! Today we are going to trek virtually along the shore of both Goodliffe Pond and Sheldrake Lake (aka Larchmont Reservoir). This hike takes place in the merry month of May so we should see some interesting plants and animals!
Before we begin, let’s discuss a bit about Sheldrake Lake. The lake is artificial and was created by the damming of the Sheldrake River (a tributary of the Long Island Sound) in 1935. The lake is about 25 acres in size. The entire acreage of the Larchmont Reservoir including its woodlands, wetlands and Goodliffe Pond (Goodliffe Pond was dammed from the Sheldrake River to provide ice before freezers were invented) is about 60 acres.
Welcome! Today’s virtual hike will explore sections of the Sheldrake Lake environment.
Using the below trail map (taken from Sheldrakecenter.org), we’re going to explore a portion of this beautiful nature preserve.
Heading west from the parking area we find ourselves following the joint purple blazed .90 of a mile Upper Trail and blue blazed Colonial Greenway trail. The Colonial Greenway trail is a trail system that links open spaces within five towns found in Westchester County. It is historical and includes famous people from the past including Ann Hutchinson, James Fenimore Cooper and Thomas Paine among others. .71 of the Colonial Greenway passes through the preserve.
As we walk we pass the orange blazed 460 foot Mary Anne Johnson River Walk Trail coming from the north.
We have now arrived at a bird watching shelter on the shore of Goodliffe Pond.
After take a look lets continue on the trail where the Green Blazed .52 of a mile Leddy Trail joins from the north.
Now following the triple blazed Leddy, Upper Trail and Colonial Greenway trail we walk northwest following the western shore of Goodlifee Pond and enter New Rochelle. Shortly after entering New Rochelle the Upper Trail heads off to the west. Let’s follow it!
After taking in the view of the lake we descend and find ourselves in a very green wetland.
Let’s head back southwest to the combined Leddy Trail/Colonial Greenway to check out the Sheldrake Dam.
On our way to the dam we see an observation deck and boardwalk jutting out into Sheldrake Lake.
Approaching near the Larchmont Reservoir we spot a couple of Barn Swallows. Barn Swallows are the world’s most common swallow and they build their nests almost exclusively on human made structures.
We have now arrived to the Sheldrake Lake Dam. The Sheldrake Lake dam was constructed in 1935.
We hear a rustle behind us in a tree and discover a Black-Crowned Night Heron staring us down!
Another rustle follows but this time from the ground. It’s a curious Eastern Chipmunk wondering why we are causing so much noise outside his front door.
As we start to head back to our car we notice a plant with white flowers growing from the ground. This plant is False Solomon’s Seal. The soil here must be deep and moist for this plant to thrive. It prefers partial shade.
Nice! One of my favorite plants is in bloom. It’s Jack-in-the-Pulpit. Even though the picture above shows the back of the flower, the spathe found on the other side reminded early botanists of a preacher in a pulpit-hence the name.
We have now arrived back the shore of Goodlifee Pond.
We pass Canada Geese with goslings when we hear yet another rustle behind us. It’s yet another Eastern Chipmunk checking us out.
We have now arrived back at our car. Thanks for joining me today on this virtual hike!
Directions (Taken from NYNJCT Botany)
Hutchinson Parkway north; get off at exit 21 for Route 125 (Weaver Street); turn right at the stop sign; drive 0.3 of a mile to the stop light; turn left onto Weaver Street; drive 1.7 miles to turn left onto Rockland Avenue; drive 0.3 of a mile to park on Forest Avenue (across from the trail entrances (either west or east of the bridge over East Branch of Sheldrake River).
Excellent books on Westchester, wetlands and other environmental information:
- Walkable Westchester
- A Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Forests: North America (Peterson Field Guides)
- The Warbler Guide