Vischer's Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve

Friday, April 11, 2014

In the Welcome post for this blog I reminded you that there is beauty all around us - even in our own towns!   Well here is a prime example of having a treasure in your backyard!   I grew up in this area, but it wasn't until last spring that I discovered this amazing gem right in my hometown.
If you follow me on Facebook, you've already seen loads of photos taken at the Vischer's Ferry Preserve.  It's one of my favorite places to capture nature at its finest.  But if you're like me, I'm betting you aren't too familiar with its history.   If you aren't, and if you haven't taken a few hours to explore one of our areas most beautiful nature preserves......I hope you will after reading this post.

The Vischer's Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve is a 600-700-acre site  (depending on what article you reference)  along the Mohawk River in the town of Clifton Park,  N.Y, near the hamlet of Vischer Ferry. It is owned by the NYS Canal Corporation, but Clifton Park maintains its extensive trail system under a special lease arrangement. The preserve also is known as Vischer Ferry Bird Conservation Area.  (Wikipedia).

Nesting Canada Goose

The preserve includes an original section of the Erie Canal and towpath, constructed in 1825. The main entrance to the preserve includes an 1862 Whipple Truss Bridge, a design commonly used to cross the Erie Canal.  This bridge was built by Squire Whipple in 1869, of cast iron. This one was originally built for a crossing at Sprakers, but was eventually moved to the Vischer's Ferry Nature Preserve and restored and erected as you see in the photos above.  (Taken from TUG44 Home Page)The main parking for the preserve is at the Whipple Bridge which is located at the intersection of Van Vraeken and Riverview Road.  Once there, you have a variety of trails to follow.   Most trails are flat and kept nicely groomed as you can see from the next few photos.

Clute's Dry Dock  was  established  about  the  time  the  Erie  Canal  opened  in  1825. Three  cradles  in  the  dry  dock  basin  could  each  support  one  canal  boat  while  it  was  being  built  or  repaired.  Boats  floated  into  the  dry  dock  from  the  canal  through  a  set  of  wooden  gates.  The  gates  were  closed,  and  another  gate  was  opened  to  drain  the  water  back  into  the  Mohawk  River. The  dry  dock  now  serves  as  a  canoe  launch.

Clute's Dry Dock today
There are several trails within the preserve and each will provide ample opportunities to commune with nature. I prefer visiting during the spring when wildlife is abundant, including migrating waterfowl of all sorts.   This week when we visited (three different days), we were serenaded by several red-winged blackbirds who sat in the tree tops singing out in what seemed to be a well rehearsed aria.   Also this week, so loud you could hear in a passing car with the windows up, the peepers came alive.  Add in the calls of the Canadian Geese and various ducks, visitors were as close to nature as it gets. 

 A new audio tour provides convenient and accessible interpretation of the Byway stories including the historic waterway west and the Erie Canal. The audio tour will highlight and encourage the use of recreational resources within the Byway corridor.  For more information about the audio tour, you can click the link below  ( and at each site described in the audio tour, you'll find instructions on connecting with the audio tour on your cell phone.

Whether you are strolling peacefully observing nature, jogging or bicycling, or even snowshoeing  or cross country skiing in the dead of winter, Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve is a wonderful place to spend some time.  And if you aren't able to walk far, just park your car at the main entrance and have a seat on the picnic table or bring a lawn chair and kick back and enjoy the view.  The preserve is open year round from sunrise to sunset.    For more information, click on the links at the end of this post, including a printable map of the preserve and it's trails.    Enjoy!

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