GNC features 27 acres of woodland, a pond, nature trails, gardens, outdoor and indoor animal exhibits and a greenhouse.
The manor, constructed in 1918, contains nature & animal exhibits. The property was previously owned by the Hall family and was purchased for $725,000 using funding from the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund and a bond issue from the Town of Greenburgh in 1973 to prevent development of single family housing which was proposed for the property.
Inside the manor, for a fee, (free for GNC Members), visitors can tour various educational exhibits on the environment and visit the indoor animal exhibits.
Nearly 140 reptiles and mammals are present in the indoor animal exhibit from all over the world displayed in ecologically realistic settings. Native animals include the Eastern Screech Owl and American Bullfrogs among others.
Special nature themes of interest are also displayed from time to time. When I visited in June 2012 there was an exhibit featuring information on the wonders of dirt.
There is also information on the nearby Bronx River where a tributary from the GNC flows into. An aquarium populated with fish found in the Bronx River is also displayed.
The preserve features several outdoor exhibits such as a barnyard habitat and an Aviary among other attractions.
The Green Roof Exhibit was created in 2008 through generous sponsorship funds from Con Edison and provides an example on new views towards sustainability. Vegetation keeps buildings cooler and helps absorb storm water runoff.
A complete list of outdoor exhibits can be seen on the map below (taken from the Greenburgh Nature Center website).
The nearly 2 acre great lawn was created around 1918 when the estate was first built.
The lawn features Beehives and an organic garden.
The Greenburgh Nature Center’s Manor House was built from stones quarried from the surrounding property in 1918.
The rocks found in the GNC consist of Fordham Gneiss. Rocks of Fordham Gneiss have been altered by high heat and extreme pressure around 1.1 billion years. The alteration caused the sedimentary rock to recrystallize forming black-and-white banded, metamorphic rock.
The Orchard area of the preserve features sandstone in addition to the predominant Fordham Gneiss and is the only part of the center property that features this geologic deviation.
The preserve features four trails. The trails were originally developed by the previous owners of the land for quarrying and logging purposes. The trail map above was taken from the Greenburgh Nature Center website.
The blue blazed Forest Trail is the main trail which begins and ends at the Manor house in a loop fashion for about a third of a mile in length.
The main focal point of the Forest Trail is Woodfrog Pond.
The Woodfrog Pond area is the main source of water for GNC fauna and features freshwater wetlands at its northern and southern borders. Woodfrog Pond originated as a vernal pond which was created from past glacial activity. In 1980, GNC dredged the pond and constructed a small dam to retain water. The water which forms the pond originates from an underground spring and from rainfall. An outflow from the pond drains to the Bronx River which in turn drains into the East River.
Woodfrog Pond is unsuitable for fish due to its warm shallow water. Amphibians such as Spring Peepers, Green Frogs, Bullfrogs and a variety of salamanders breed and lay their eggs in the pond (and yes, Wood Frogs make an appearance here too in March to lay eggs).
Woodfrog Pond was restored in the fall of 2008. The pond and surrounding area had become degraded due to erosion and high usage. The restoration helped to increase the biodiversity of the pond itself as well as the surrounding wetlands. The Greenburgh Nature Center received a grant from the NYC environmental fund for $9,700 to partially dredge and fortify the pond as well as replant the surrounding area with native trees and shrubs.
The North Forty Trail meanders around the northern section of the preserve and eventually connects with the Forest Trail. The North Forty Trail passes near wetlands and traverses pass the Scarsdale Country Club in an easterly direction to connect with the Forest Trail near Woodfrog Pond. The North Forty Trail is also accessible from the Oak and Orchard Trail from the west.
The Sylvia Stein Nature Trail is a short trail which traverses through the center of the woodlands heading in a north – south direction. The Sylvia Stein Nature Trail is accessible from c the Forest Trail. Ms. Stein was active with mycological groups and led field trips for both mycological groups and the Torrey Botanical Society.
The Oak and Orchard Trail leads from the North Forty Trail and heads southwest past the great lawn to the 3 acre orchard which is also a Box Turtle nesting site.
- Flora found at the Greenburgh Nature Center includes:
- Red Maple
- Sugar Maple
- American Beech
- Tulip Tree
- Chestnut Oak
- Virginia Creeper
Fauna includes the below along with many others:
1The preserve is small at just 33 acres but it contains many diverse habitats and is worth a visit.
The Greenburgh Nature Center is located at 99 Dromore Road, off Central Park Avenue, Scarsdale, New York. There is free parking available.
Feel free to comment below with any bird sightings, interesting plants, memories or suggestions! Thank you and have fun exploring!