Hand Hollow

About The Site

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 (fishing is by permit only – stop in to the CLC Office at 49 Main Street in Chatham to get one).

•  Hike – trails are easy to moderate
•  Birdwatch
•  Cross-country ski
•  Kayak
•  Fish (permit required)
•  Now you can enjoy a guided hike using the Vizzit App – click here to start the tour from the Route 9 entrance.  Click here to start from the Gale Hill Road entrance!
•  Join CLC in the Hike Five Challenge by hiking 5 of our 10 Public Conservation Areas and you’ll be eligible to receive a prize!
•  Click HERE for more information and to download your entry form!

Questions about the beaver dam at Hand Hollow Conservation Area (Route 9)

Was this done deliberately?
Nope! This is part of a natural cycle of beaver activity.

But it looks like the pond was man made?
Yep! The original pond was made with an earthen dam with a concrete weir to control the water level. The weir was removed some time ago, and the beavers have been maintaining dams there as part of the larger wetlands complex for several decades.

What Happened?
The lower beaver dam, closest to Route 9, blew out (breached) during a storm in October 2019. This happened in November 2018, and sometime in late 2013 or early 2014, too.

What if they don’t rebuild it?
That’s OK, too! It might not be rebuilt this year, but beavers are industrious little critters, and they will rebuild the dam there eventually.

OK, but what will happen to the pond if they don’t rebuild it soon?
It really depends on how long they leave it alone. If the dam isn’t rebuilt for a few years, the area will populate with grasses and other meadow species, becoming a wet meadow. If it’s left alone for longer, species such as alders, willows, and red maples will begin growing. These are some of the beaver’s preferred food sources, and their presence will bring cause the beavers to rebuild the dam so they can safely harvest those resources.

Wow! I’m fascinated. Do you have any resources you would recommend so I can learn more about beavers?
Of course! Here is some information put together by the Beaver Institute over in Massachusetts.

I’m really impressed. Is there anything I can do to help?
Absolutely! There are a few things you can do to help. You can donate and become a member at CLC to help ensure the long term management and conservation of places like the Hand Hollow Conservation Area. You can sign up for our email list and keep an eye out for educational events and walks at places like Hand Hollow where you can learn from staff and local experts about the ecology of Columbia County. You can invite others to do the same. And you can spread your new found love of beavers by educating your friends, family, and neighbors about their benefits to biodiversity, ground water infiltration, and climate change.

Trail Map

Site History

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. You can download the brochure here.

Click here for directions to Hand Hollow’s County Route 9 entrance.

Click here for directions to Hand Hollow’s Gale Hill Road entrance.

Columbia Land Conservancy
49 Main Street
Chatham, NY 12037




Public Conservation Areas are open dawn to dusk every day.
Visit our calendar of events to find out what’s happening next.