From the Director’s Desk: Trails at Landis

By Fred Breglia

Many people love Landis for its collections, classes, and events, but it is never too late to appreciate its many hiking opportunities too. Landis has 10 distinct trails on its property, each highlighting a different facet of the Arboretum.

The first trail you see upon arrival at the main (lower) parking lot is the Lape Trail. This trail is fondly named after Landis’ founder Fred Lape and takes you through the collections of beech, willow, conifer, maple, oak, lilac, and crabapple. Each specimen is labeled, and additional signage highlights insightful facts about the plants and habitat. One can easily spend a few hours leisurely walking the Lape Trail, enjoying the many views and immersing oneself in nature. While on the trail, wander into the unique “Choice Conifer” and Pinetum sections, which include several original Lape plantings, as well as the fenced Rhododendron Collection. These areas are spectacular for viewing the less common plants available in today’s horticultural industry. Many were planted by Lape in the 1950’s.

Across from the Lape Trail at its far end is the Pioneer Trail. This trail is named because of all the pioneer species –species that are the first to colonize a disrupted or damaged ecosystem -- that can be found along its entire route. The trail is a favorite of birders who appreciate the diversity of birds that can be found in the surrounding habitat of fields, brambles, and younger trees.

Connecting to the Pioneer Trail is the Woodland Trail, which meanders through the smaller of Landis’ two old growth forest plots. This ¾-mile trail is a visitor favorite due to its intact ancient ecosystem as well as its accessibility to Meeting House parking. You can easily continue along the Woodland Trail to the Big Red Oak and the deceased Great Oak. The trail affords the visitor a scenic view of the Schoharie Valley.

Just beyond the two oaks is the Acorn Trail. The Acorn Trail is a half-mile long and is home to many young oaks that drop thousands of acorns, giving the trail its name. Many visitors utilize this trail as a connector from the Woodland Trail to either the Ancient Forest, the Native Plant Collection, or the Bass Woodland.

The Bass Woodland is about 50 acres of managed land donated to Landis. Just over a mile in length, the trail is a meandering series of loops that leads visitors through an exemplary stand of managed oak and maple hardwoods. The Bass Trail is given a “moderate difficulty” rating.

The Native Plant trail comprises almost every plant native to New York State and is organized by family to educate and assist visitors in plant identification. The collections and trail were created and are currently maintained by its curator, Ed Miller. The trail eventually will lead you back towards the main grounds of Landis, but not before taking you through its newest feature, “Nan’s Ferns.” This fabulous fern collection is home to twenty of New York’s native ferns, and each one is labeled. Within feet of this collection is the “Musical Bridge,” where some recycled PVC pipe and a pair of flip flops have been transformed into an expressive instrument!

If your quest for adventure includes more difficult trails through more remote locations, a 4+ mile hike round trip hike from the lower parking lot will lead you to the Ancient Forest trail. Its topography is only suitable for the experienced hiker. The trail offers informal educational opportunities through QR-coded signage. It is not uncommon to encounter deer, owls, and hawks.

The Ancient Forest trail spurs off at its lowest point, which is the beginning of Landis’ newest trail, the Waterfall Trail. This 2+ mile out-and-back trail (including the Ancient Forest Trail, it’s about 7 miles out and back from the lower parking lot) will eventually lead visitors to the highest elevation at Landis. The Waterfall Trail is aptly named because of the duplicate falls that flow during the wettest times of the year. It is considered our most difficult hike, and hiking boots are strongly recommended. This hike can be made a few miles shorter by walking back down Lape Road to the lower parking and your vehicle instead of backtracking.

From easy family-friendly hikes to more challenging hikes, Landis has something to offer any nature lover. More experienced hikers can link our trails together for a 10+ mile ALL DAY experience. Maps are available in the parking lot kiosk and in the Welcome Center at the Farmhouse.

Happy Trails!

Summer 2017

Volume 35 , Number 3

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