You may notice a patch of ground near County Route 21 that looks recently disturbed. This is part of a restoration project to increase habitat for pollinators like bees and butterflies, as well as birds. Please stay on the trails as young plants are fragile.
If you pass East Ancram and Overmountain Roads, you may see some new visitors at Overmountain Conservation Area! CLC is leasing land to certified bio-dynamic and organic farmers from Cowberry Crossing Farm who are grazing sheep there. The grazing will help to maintain historic pasture and improve habitat for wildlife, all while supporting local agriculture!
CLC is working with volunteers, contractors, and scientists to transform a corn field into habitat for native pollinators and regionally rare grassland bird species like the bobolink and savannah sparrow. This restoration area is close to the Kite Hill parking lot on Catalano Road. Please stay on trails as young plants are fragile.
The Red Trail is currently closed while we remove invasive species threatening the health of the forest. You can still access the waterfall overlook via the Green Trail.
CLC staff and volunteers are working to improve sections of the Blue Trail from the Gale Hill parking lot to Meizinger Lake. Please do not ride horses or bicycles on this section of the trail, especially during wet weather.
Hike Five with the Columbia Land Conservancy!
Did you know that the Columbia Land Conservancy owns and manages ten Public Conservation Areas across Columbia County, home to more than 30 miles of trails? These special places feature waterfalls, peaceful woodlands, and scenic views galore.
So let’s explore them together! Complete the challenge and you’ll be eligible for a patch featuring one of the Public Conservation Area mascots and a Northern or Southern Columbia County Outdoors Guidebook. Visit all ten sites and we’ll throw in both guidebooks. We’ve also created a fun scavenger hunt for kids to fill out while you hike.
** Please practice social distancing while completing the Hike Five Challenge! Maintain at least a six-foot distance from other hikers. Thank you for being patient while waiting for your patches – CLC staff are all working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. **
Participation in the Hike Five Challenge is easy:
1) Click here to get an entry form
2) Visit at least five of CLC’s Public Conservation Areas between now and December 31, 2021, and log your visits on your entry form
3) Submit your entry by clicking here
Click a link below to learn more about each Public Conservation Area!
Looking for additional places to explore? Download the Columbia County Outdoors Guides for this limited time!
Sites are open dawn to dusk – camping is prohibited.
Fishing is allowed at certain sites with a permit. Click here to get your permit, or stop in to the CLC Office (49 Main Street, Chatham, NY), between 9:00 a.m. and 4:45 p.m., Monday-Friday, to get one. Hunting is allowed at certain sites. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. In order to manage the site’s natural resources, we do not allow foraging.
Swimming is not permitted at any of our sites.
Yes please! Many of the sites are home to sensitive habitats and wildlife, and other visitors may be scared of your dog.
There are no restrooms or trash cans at the sites. Please practice Leave No Trace ethics by taking all your trash with you when you leave, and staying on trails.
To keep our users safe, fire and alcohol consumption are not permitted.
Maintenance at our Public Conservation Areas has been supported by the Hudson River Bank & Trust Foundation, Ellsworth Kelly and the Jack Shear Foundation, the Land Trust Alliance, the Quailwood Fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, the Hudson River Estuary Program, the Hudson River Greenway, the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, and the Wellspring Foundation. We use counters to gather data about trail use. This helps us to better understand and manage our trails, and is very important when applying for grants and other funding. To learn more about the TRAFx trail counters we use, please click here.
62-acre Borden’s Pond is home to 1.6 miles of forested trails. Though it’s close to the village, Borden’s Pond is home to a diverse wildlife and forest composition, sloping stream-side trails, and wetland and Catskill Mountain views. The site is a great place to birdwatch, enjoy an easy hike (trails are mostly flat with the exception of the Red Trail), or take in views of a wetland. Enjoy a hike at Borden’s? Visit four more Public Conservation Areas as part of the Hike Five Challenge!
In 1997, a group of citizens united to form Borden’s Park Preserve to protect this undeveloped parcel. Through community fundraising and two major grants, the initial 52-acre parcel was purchased in 1998. In 2005, Borden’s Park Preserve transferred the property to the Columbia Land Conservancy. Click here to learn more about Borden’s Pond and our other Public Conservation Areas.
CLC allows a limited number of hunters at selected Public Conservation Areas by permit only.
We are currently re-evaluating our hunting permit program. If you are interested in hunting at a Public Conservation Area, please fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch as we finalize the details. Thank you!
If you’d like to fish at a Public Conservation Area, you’ll need a fishing permit (and your NYS fishing license)! When you commit to becoming a fishing monitor, you help keep ponds and creeks clean, healthy, and well-managed. Thank you!
Permits are required for all anglers over the age of 16. Ice fishing is permitted at angler’s own risk – shanties and motorized augers are not allowed. Be aware that many sites have thin ice.
CLC suggests a $25 Conservation Friend donation to offset the costs of managing the fishing permit program.
In exchange for fishing privileges at Columbia Land Conservancy (CLC) owned Public Conservation Areas, monitors’ responsibilities include:
1. Keeping Public Conservation Areas free of trash.
2. Periodically assessing and spot checking who is fishing at the conservation area and accounting for any illegal or questionable activity. This would include fishing without a permit, failure to park in designated area, failure to carry a valid permit or fishing license, or anything else other than what is specified on the permit issued by Columbia Land Conservancy.
**Monitors do not have the authority to ask visitors to leave a site or to confront them, other than to provide info about the fishing permit program as a CLC ambassador. We ask that you observe and report, leave any policing to CLC and the local authorities.
Environmental Conservation Officers:
Officer Cox- 518.794.8935
Officer Davy- 518.414.6083
Dispatch – 877.457.5680
3. Reporting any troublesome activities to CLC. Reports should be emailed to email@example.com.
Please sign the form below, if you agree to the terms, email a photo of your NYS Fishing License to firstname.lastname@example.org or send to 49 Main Street in Chatham, and submit. Once received we will mail you your CLC Fishing Permit.
You can visit a 350-foot knoll with expansive views of not only the swamp, but also surrounding protected farmland. This Public Conservation Area includes a portion of the Drowned Lands Swamp ecosystem, one of the largest wetland complexes in southeastern New York. Drowned Lands Swamp in Ancram boasts 1.5 miles of trails on 114 acres of land. Drowned Lands Swamp is a great place to hike – trails are easy to moderate (the Summit Trail includes a short, steep ascent), and primarily forested. Please note the site can be very buggy, and you may wish to avoid visiting Drowned Lands during black fly season (June – July). Enjoy a hike at Drowned Lands? Visit four more Public Conservation Areas as part of the Hike Five Challenge!
In 1995, the Salisbury Bank and Trust Company of Connecticut generously donated approximately 100 acres of land to CLC, establishing what is now Drowned Lands Swamp. CLC enlarged the area in 2000 through an additional acquisition. Local folklore includes tales of stills operating during prohibition, either on the property or across the road. Click here to learn more about Drowned Lands Swamp and our other Public Conservation Areas.
This 736-acre site within walking distance of Hudson includes 7 miles of trails. Greenport also includes an Access-for-All wheelchair friendly trail. As you explore the park on one of its many trails, take in excellent Hudson River and Catskill Mountain views. Greenport is a great place to hike (trails are primarily flat), birdwatch, cross-country ski, and enjoy a picnic. Enjoy a hike at Greenport? Visit four more Public Conservation Areas as part of the Hike Five Challenge!
CLC worked with the Open Space Institute (OSI) to establish the Greenport Conservation Area. In 1992, OSI purchased the original 400 acres, which had been actively farmed for hay, corn, and dairy production. The property was enlarged through additional acquisitions by OSI, and was conveyed to CLC in 2013. Click here to view the full brochure to learn more about Greenport and our other Public Conservation Areas.
This site features woodlands, meadows, a lake, two ponds, streams, and wetlands. This variety of habitats makes it a prime location for spotting beavers, otters, black bear, bobcat, and wild turkey as you meander the 2.8 miles of trails or enjoy prime fishing access (by permit only, click here for more information). Hand Hollow is a great place to birdwatch, cross-country ski, and kayak. Trails are primarily flat. Enjoy a hike at Hand Hollow? Visit four more Public Conservation Areas as part of the Hike Five Challenge!
The Hand Hollow Conservation Area includes a patchwork of former small family properties. It was made possible through the vision and generosity of families who understood the importance of protecting open space and wildlife habitat for future generations. Click here to view the full brochure and learn more about Hand Hollow and our other Public Conservation Areas.
The Harris property includes 1.9 miles of trails on 76 acres of land. The hemlock forests provide habitat for a variety of different birds. In the temporary vernal pools, you may see the eggs of frogs and salamanders in the spring, and their young as they hatch. These woodland pools provide critical habitat for amphibians. The property’s cliffs and outcroppings are home to lichens over a century old. The small piles of rocks form crevices and caves that provide great habitat for bats, porcupines, and snakes. Harris is a great place to hike, birdwatch, fish (permit required), or cross-country ski. Enjoy a hike at Harris? Visit four more Public Conservation Areas as part of the Hike Five Challenge!
Gordon Harris donated the property to CLC to be used for recreation and wildlife conservation. We also thank the Greenagers, a Great Barrington-based nonprofit, for partnering to provide youth with natural-resources based work experience maintaining the trails and building the site’s stone staircases. Click here to view the full brochure to learn more about Harris and our other Public Conservation Areas.
Please note: The Red Trail is closed for habitat restoration! You can still access the overlook via the Green Trail.
The High Falls Conservation Area is home to Columbia County’s highest waterfall. The wooded trails bring visitors to a dramatic overlook with views of the falls and provide access to the Agawamuck Creek. The Agawamuck Creek flows northwest until eventually joining the Claverack Creek on its way to the Hudson River. You can enjoy several hiking trails at High Falls, as well as fishing. Enjoy a hike at High Falls? Visit four more Public Conservation Areas as part of the Hike Five Challenge!
High Falls is exceptionally rich in cultural history. The Agawamuck Creek and these falls have been an important part of Philmont’s history and development. Dense locust stands and large oaks and maples that are found along the trail system tell a story of past logging. In the early 19th century hydropower was the chief source of energy for industry; the water provided by the creek led to the growth of a bustling town called Factory Hill which was later renamed Philmont. Through the construction of a dam atop High Falls and a series of aqueducts and diverter dams, enough hydropower was harnessed to provide power for a total of 17 mills during Philmont’s heyday. The dam above High Falls, which was built in 1845, is visible from the viewing area, and the old mills still stand on the creek’s northern slopes. By the 1950s new technologies marked the end of many mills across the country, and as a result most of the mills in Philmont were closed by the end of the decade. In the mid-1990’s the landowner at that time contacted CLC to explore how the property could be made available to the public. Click here to view the full brochure and learn more about High Falls and our other Public Conservation Areas.
Ooms Conservation Area in Chatham features 2.9 miles of trails on 180 acres of land. This spectacular property includes rolling grasslands, pond, pastoral landscape, Catskill mountain views, and mixed forest habitats. There are benches and a gazebo for relaxing and birdwatching, and excellent fishing (by permit only) at the 35-acre Sutherland Pond. Enjoy a hike at Ooms? Visit four more Public Conservation Areas as part of the Hike Five Challenge!
This Conservation Area is named after two families who have been in the area for generations. The pond is named after the Sutherland family, who lived across the road from the conservation area in the 1800s. In the 1950s, the Ooms family arrived from the Netherlands and began a dairy operation on the fields surrounding the pond. In 2001, CLC, in conjunction with the Open Space Institute, purchased this 180-acre parcel from the Ooms family to permanently ensure its availability to the public. Click here to view the full brochure and learn more about Ooms and our other Public Conservation Areas.
This site offers spectacular views of the Harlem Valley, Hudson Valley, and Taconics. The Overmountain Conservation Area is the largest Public Conservation Area in the Columbia Land Conservancy’s portfolio, at 1,700 acres in size, and includes more than ten miles of trails. The site is comprised of three main areas: Round Ball Mountain, Fox Hill, and Kite Hill. The Fox Hill Trailhead is not yet open. Enjoy a hike at Overmountain? Visit four more Public Conservation Areas as part of the Hike Five Challenge!
A note on directions: The road where the Kite Hill entrance is located variously appears as Cattalino, Catalano, Catalonus, and other alternate spellings, depending on which mapping service you’re using. The name on the road sign is Catalano.
CLC acquired the property in three phases, starting with the bargain sale purchase of Round Ball Mountain from the Kitchen family, followed by the donation of Fox Hill by the Baxt family,
and culminating with a gift of 1,300 acres from the Gilmore family. Click here to view the full brochure and learn more about Overmountain and our other Public Conservation Areas.
Schor Conservation Area encompasses 233 acres with 2.5 miles of trails. A summit along the trails offers views of the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains. On a clear day, the city of Albany is visible. Schor is a great site for fishing, birdwatching, and picnicking. Hike at Schor? Visit four more Public Conservation Areas as part of the Hike Five Challenge!
Schor Conservation Area was made possible by the generosity of Jonathan Schor, an early trustee of the CLC and a much loved member of the Red Rock community. Jon’s clear vision and passion led him to place conservation easements on much of his land, and upon his death, bequeath his property to CLC for establishment of this Public Conservation Area.
Click here to view the full brochure and learn more about Schor and our other Public Conservation Areas.
Maintenance of this site has has been supported by grants from the Quailwood Fund, a fund of Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation.
Siegel-Kline Kill is a 55-acre site in Ghent with 1.5 miles of trails. Large sycamore trees dominate an extensive flood plain forest along the Kline Kill, and the property also includes a winter sledding hill and a working farm field. Enjoy a hike at Siegel-Kline Kill? Visit four other Public Conservation Areas as part of the Hike Five Challenge!
The Siegel-Kline Kill Conservation Area is named after prior owners Bob and Susan Siegel. The property was originally party of an extensive dairy farm operation. The fields of Siegel-Kline Kill, with 25 acres of excellent agricultural soils, are transitioning to a native meadow habitat. Fishing at the site is by permit only. Click here to view the full brochure and learn more about Siegel-Kline Kill and our other Public Conservation Areas.