Exploring the Larchmont Reservoir!

Welcome to the Larchmont Reservoir Conservancy

Welcome to the Larchmont Reservoir Conservancy

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!

Welcome to the Larchmont Reservoir

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.

Virtual Hike

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.

Trail Map

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.

Bridge over Sheldrake River

Bridge over Sheldrake River

Let’s walk over this bridge to Cross over Sheldrake River (a Long Island Sound Tributary). The Sheldrake River drains a watershed whose upstream portions cover parts of Scarsdale and New Rochelle.

As we walk we pass the orange blazed 460 foot Mary Anne Johnson River Walk Trail coming from the north.

Bird Blind Leddy Trail

Bird Blind with trail blazes of the Leddy Trail, Upper Trail and Colonial Greenway

We have now arrived at a bird watching shelter on the shore of Goodliffe Pond.

Bird Blind View

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!

Upper Trail 1

We climb through a forest of Sugar Maple and Black Birch and come to a beautiful view of Sheldrake Lake.

Sheldrake Lake 1

After taking in the view of the lake we descend and find ourselves in a very green wetland.


The wetlands are filled with Skunk Cabbage along with other forms of wetland vegetation including Cinnamon Fern and Spicebush among others.

Let’s head back southwest to the combined Leddy Trail/Colonial Greenway to check out the Sheldrake Dam. 

Boadwalk Environmental Viewing Dock

Boardwalk Environmental Viewing Dock

On our way to the dam we see an observation deck and boardwalk jutting out into Sheldrake Lake.

Barn Swallows

Barn Swallows

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.

Sheldrake Lake Dam 1

Sheldrake Lake Dam 1

We have now arrived to the Sheldrake Lake Dam. The Sheldrake Lake dam was constructed in 1935.

Black-Crowned Night Heron

Black-Crowned Night Heron

We hear a rustle behind us in a tree and discover a Black-Crowned Night Heron staring us down!

Eastern Chipmunk

Eastern Chipmunk

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.

False Solomon's Seal in bloom

False Solomon’s Seal in bloom

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.

Canada Geese with Goslings 2

Canada Geese with Goslings

We pass Canada Geese with goslings when we hear yet another rustle behind us. It’s yet another Eastern Chipmunk checking us out.

Eastern Chipmunk

Eastern Chipmunk

We have now arrived back at our car. Thanks for joining me today on this virtual hike!

Unknown Bird

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).

Check out the latest bird sightings here!

Check out the flora and fauna that have been discovered at Sheldrake Lake here!

Excellent books on Westchester, wetlands and other environmental information:

  1. Walkable Westchester
  2.  Wetlands
  3. A Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Forests: North America (Peterson Field Guides)
  4. The Warbler Guide


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