Gull Bay Preserve
472 acres in the Town of Putnam
This woodland hillside property contains old logging roads
and two wetland swamps which represent the southern portion of Sucker Brook, one
of the most important wetlands in the Lake George watershed. In autumn,
significant numbers of migratory waterfowl rest in the wetland before their
journey south to warmer climates. The western side of the property has a
magnificent scenic vista of Lake George. The Lake George Land Conservancy has
established two miles of hiking trails and hosts nature excursions on the
property as part of its “On the Land” field trip series.
The Gull Bay Preserve has long been a popular destination
for those wishing to see a great blue heron rookery (nesting colony) during its
active season of March through July. Unfortunately our 20-30 nesting herons seem
to have abandoned the site. Though rookeries may be used for decades, there are
several factors that may cause site abandonment, including increased predation,
a loss of food availability, human disturbance, and death of trees supporting
We hope to see a return of these majestic birds in the
future, but for now guests can still enjoy watching the pond's resident beavers
and other waterfowl. When watching any animal, please keep a safe distance
and use caution to reduce disturbance and stress on the animals.
Please see the trail guide at right for a map and additional details. The
Gull Bay guide is in the process of being updated to reflect new trails.
From the parking area, walk a short distance following an old logging road to
the preserve's kiosk. From here the blue trail continues on the logging road
uphill for less than half a mile, ending at an overlook that peeks out to Gull
Bay and to the south over Lake George.
The yellow and orange trails start from the blue trail near
its northern and southern end, respectively. The yellow trail follows the pond's
western ridge and creates a loop through a fern-laden forest at the pond's
northern end. Because of its proximity to the rookery, the yellow trail is
closed to hikers during the great blue heron nesting months of April through
early July to protect the sensitive rookery from human disturbance.
The more popular and well-used orange trail breaks from the
blue trail just downhill from the overlook. The orange trail begins with a rocky
downhill climb, but levels out beyond that for a lovely hike that passes vernal
pools and varied habitats full of wildlife in all seasons. The trail ends with a
short loop that leads close to the pond's shore for great wildlife viewing.
The orange and yellow loops are connected by the red trail.
You may also follow the red trail further north to another overlook that
provides an expansive view of the ponds and wetlands. This trail climbs a steep
rocky ledge; please hike with caution!