Putnam Valley, NY
On the Putnam/Westchester border there is a 28-acre preserve called the Danner Family Preserve that offers an easy walk through an old farm that is being reclaimed by nature. The field is now mostly brush and smaller trees, and there is a wooded area toward the back of the property that offers some shade and a made-made view of the nearby valley.
(Scroll down below the slideshow for more info.)
To get there from eastern Putnam County, the quickest route is to take Route 6 toward Jefferson Valley in Westchester. Turn right onto Route 6N (also called East Main St.). Make a left at the next intersection to stay on East Main St. Go .5 miles and make a right onto Wood St. Go another .5 miles and make a left onto Indian Hill Rd. The preserve will be on a long flat section of Indian Hill Rd. on your left hand side. There is a wooden sign in front of the preserve. There is no off-street parking and the shoulder is a small hill, so pull off to the side as best you can. Do not park on the property of the residence across the street.
The old farm road is wide, but the grass was about 2 feet tall when we visited. It was 80 degrees and my daughter and I were wearing shorts and sneakers. In hindsight, we should have worn long pants. To avoid the itchy grass, the creepy crawlies that live there, and the poison something-or-other plants that might be mixed in, I hoisted my daughter onto my shoulders, tied the dog’s leash to my belt loop, and we were on our way.
There is something neat about a trail that cuts through thick brush. It creates an enclosed, intimate experience. The expanse of blue sky above made a nice backdrop to be able to see the birds, butterflies and insects as they passed back and forth over the path.
The trail splits at a Y intersection. We stayed to the right to make a counter-clockwise loop. The trail narrows to snake through a hole cut in a band of thicket that runs perpendicular to the trail, and then reopens to a wide path again.
At the point where the old farm road makes a left to follow a stone wall, there is a spur trail that leads into the more wooded section of the property. Seeing a chance to put my daughter down to give my shoulders a rest, and her a chance to do some exploring, we headed through a break in the stone wall. We lost the trail markers pretty quickly, but we followed what looked like a trail. In the distance, we could see sky, so we headed in that direction thinking there may be a cliff or lookout point.
What we found was a Con Ed power line right-of-way. If you can get past the sight of the power lines, there is a decent long-distance view that offers a nice contrast to the closed-in feel of the brush-lined farm road.
We backtracked to the farm road trail and finished the loop. Walking the preserve took us just under 40 minutes, but we spent some time taking pictures, looking for wildlife and exploring an old foundation where two stone walls intersect.
The Danner Family Preserve is owned by the Westchester Land Trust. The Putnam County Land Trust own a conservation easement for the portion that is in Putnam County. For more info, visit www.westechesterlandtrust.org, or call them at 914/241-6346.