Welcome to Brinton Brook Sanctuary! Brinton Brook Sanctuary, located in Croton-on -Hudson, is managed by the Saw Mill River Audubon and is its largest sanctuary at 156 acres. The preserve originated as a donation of 112 acres to the National Audubon Society from Laura and Willard Brinton. In 1975, after Laura Brinton’s death, an additional 17 acres were added to the preserve. Saw Mill River Audubon gained full ownership of the preserve in 1991 from the National Audubon Society.
Welcome to Westchester County’s Cranberry Lake Preserve! Cranberry Lake Preserve (CLP), purchased by Westchester County in 1967, contains 190 acres of deciduous woodland, wetlands, an old quarry, several bodies of water and old ruins.
In the early 1900’s the land that was to become CLP was an active quarry utilized for the construction of the nearby Kensico Dam which holds NYC drinking water.
Trails are open dawn to dusk. Trail maps are available at a kiosk outside or you can click here for a digital version. CLP features four blazed loop trails. All trails begin and end with blazes featuring the Westchester County Parks logo. Periodic numbers appear on blazes occasionally which correspond to your current location on the trail map. These numbers are found on wooden posts. (Please note the numbers do not appear on the online version of the trail map)
All trails are accessible by either orange or white blaze connector trails.
Many sections of CLP trails display signs which lead back to the Nature Lodge.
At 2.4 miles the red trail is the longest trail featured in CLP. The red trail follows CLP boundaries with the exception of the quarry.
The Blue Trail loops around both Cranberry Lake and South Pond for a total distance of 1 mile.
Cranberry Lake is a natural body of water formed around 18,000 years ago by glacier activity. The lake is fed by an underground spring.
Ground Pine can be found growing along the Blue Trail.
The Yellow trail traverses rocky upland and a section of Cranberry Lake.
Purple (History) Trail
The Purple Blazed History trail is a self guided trail which explores most of the preserve including the quarry.
While CLP’s trails are open dusk to dawn, the nature lodge and its parking area are closed most days by 5PM. It is strongly recommended that you park in the designated parking area near Old Orchard Street if you plan on hiking past 5PM.
It is from the Old Orchard Street parking entrance that the below description starts out from on the way to explore CLP. Let’s go!
From the parking area, walk up the road to the nature lodge.
Just to the west of the nature lodge is an interesting wetland with a dock.
It was here that I saw a Northern Water Snake.
Head inside the nature lodge to check out the exhibits and pick up a trail map.
From the nature lodge, head south to take the yellow trail down to an Orange connecting trail.
Here there is a sign advertising Cranberry Lake. The orange blazed connector trail leads to a jointly blazed yellow/blue trail with Cranberry Lake straight ahead.
Follow the Yellow/Blue blazed trail south with Cranberry Lake to your left.
Continuing south, take the Orange Blazed Connector trail which will appear to your left near a wooden boardwalk known as Bent Bridge.
Bent Bridge provides a good opportunity to check out the fen located to the south of Cranberry Lake. In the summer, white water lilies appear on the water.
Leaving Bent Bridge, the Orange blazed connector trail leads to a man-made “cave” known as the Stone Chamber.
The ruins surrounding the stone chamber were the property of a farmer named Thomas Cunningham. The Stone Chamber is a very neat little man-made “cave” of sorts that is fun to explore.
From here, the orange blaze connector trail leads past more stone ruins to the Purple Trail (aka History Trail). The path here follows an old railroad which separates the fen from South Pond.
You are sure to hear splashes in the warmer months of frogs jumping in the water as you walk by.
Head east on the Purple Trail to a bench strategically placed in front of a beautiful cascade.
It’s a good spot to rest and relax in a peaceful setting.
From the cascade, continue east on the Purple Trail following signs for the quarry.
An abandoned tennis court will appear to your right. Nature is slowly reclaiming the tennis court. The tennis court was part of the Birchwood Swim club which used the nearby Quarry Pond for Swimming. Birchwood Swim Club was discontinued in 1997.
Just east of the abandoned tennis court is Quarry Pond.
Once past the quarry pond the purple trail heads past old railroad car wheels which were used to haul granite during the quarry operation.
The Purple Trail continues heading north climbing over the rocky quarry.
The height here is an estimated 450 feet above sea level.
Derrick anchors which once held heavy quarry machinery are still fastened in the rocks along the trail.
From here, the trail starts to descend the quarry and heads west passing an old abandoned car.
Continuing north the Purple Trail comes across the remains of a stone cutting shed.
After exploring this area, follow the Purple Trail south until it meets with the red trail. From here, take the red trail southwest with Cranberry Lake to your right. Continuing south, retrace your steps until you pass the cascade with the bench at an intersection with the Purple Trail that you previously took into the Quarry territory. Continuing south, the red trail passes South Pond to the West.
South Pond is man-made and was created during quarry activities.
A Bird Observation tower appears to your left. This tower provides great views of South Pond.
The red trail passes near the remains of a stone crusher foundation. The stone crusher was capable of crushing up to 1000 cubic yards of gravel per day when the quarry was active.
Signs for NYC Watershed appear to east of the trail.
From here, the red trail turns west and temporarily leaves CLP & enters White Plains watershed land and passes Hush Pond to the south.
From Hush Pond, the red trail passes a couple of connector trails and turns north following an old stone wall delineating NYC watershed property from CLP. According to David Steinberg who wrote a description of Cranberry Lake Preserve in his book “Hiking the Road to Ruins” the lower, crude, sharper-tipped walls are of colonial origin and the larger, cut-stone flat-topped walls are NY DEP watershed boundaries dating from the 1960s.
It was here that I found Indian Pipe growing when I visited in June of 2012. Continue following the red trail north with the wall to your left until you reach your car.
Cranberry Lake Preserve contains diverse habitats within its 190 acres. It is worth checking out yourself!
- 1609 Old Orchard Street, North White Plains, NY
- Park hours: Park open dawn to dusk. Nature Lodge and front gate are open Wednesday-Sunday. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Phone: (914) 428-1005
Click here for Directions!
Check out David Steinberg’s description of this hike in the book “Hiking the Road to Ruins”
Click here for more information!
1. The Nature of New York – An Environmental History of the Empire State – This work offers a sweeping environmental history of New York State
Click here for more information!
2. Eastern Deciduous Forest Ecology and Wildlife Conservation – This book is a useful tool for anyone who wants know or hopes to help one of North America’s great natural resources!
Click here for more information!
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 were altered by high heat and extreme pressure for 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.
2020 Update: The map above is current as of June 2020. The trail map above was taken from the Greenburgh Nature Center website. The trail descriptions below were as I found them in 2012 when I visited. At the time there were only four trails.
2012 Trail Descriptions
The preserve features four trails. The trails were originally developed by the previous owners of the land for quarrying and logging purposes.
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 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!