*Winter hikers: note that the parking lot does NOT get plowed.*
The Lake George Land Conservancy’s purchase of the Gull Bay Preserve, located in the Town of Putnam, Washington County, marked a significant conservation success in 2003.
This 434-acre 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 maintains over four miles of hiking trails and hosts field trips for local schools and clubs.
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, only one or two herons have nested there in the last few years. 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 the nests.
We hope to see more of these majestic birds in the future, but for now guests can still enjoy watching the pond's resident beavers and other waterfowl. Please keep a safe distance and use caution to reduce disturbance and stress on the animals.
The trail that connects to the Last Great Shoreline is marked with yellow triangles (see also the LGS trail map). This land acquisition was made possible by generous donors.
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. Bring your lunch and enjoy the new picnic table at the top!
The yellow trail starts from the blue trail’s northern end and follows the pond’s western ridge to a loop through a fern-laden forest north of the pond.
The connector trail, marked with yellow triangles, continues on from the yellow loop, and leads northward to the Last Great Shoreline Preserve. This trail is easy/moderate, except for one short but very steep section. Please use caution.
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 along an old logging road that passes a beaver pond and vernal pools; the varied habitats are full of wildlife in all seasons. The trail ends with a short loop that leads close to the pond’s shore (and beaver dam) for great wildlife viewing.
The orange and yellow loops are connected by the red trail, which follows a path below and parallel to the beaver dam. At the intersection with the yellow trail, you may also follow the red trail further north along a beaver meadow, crossing the outlet to another overlook that provides an expansive view of the ponds and wetlands. This trail climbs a steep rocky ledge; please hike with caution! Note the damage from an illegal campfire that occurred during June 2016.