Marsh Sanctuary

114 South Bedford Road (Rt 172),  Mt. Kisco, Westchester County, NY

156 acres



1830  --  the Brookside cottage on Rt. 172 was built.  It was the home of local shoemaker Alex Finch and his family. 

turn to the 20th century  --  the Finch place was bought by the Leonard family.  It was given to the daughter of Col. R. W. Leonard. 

1907 (summer)  --  a tornado came through the area.  Martha "Martia" Leonard created the amphitheater and surrounding gardens after the tornado. 

1911-1921  --  Martha held play and concerts in the amphitheater, drawing crowds from NYC.

1956  --  Norman and Cornelia Marsh bought the property.  Later they donated it as a nature preserve in memorial of their daughter, Cornelia van Rensselaer Marsh.  The Sanctuary has received several donations of adjoining property. 

the 1970s and 80s  --    the Sanctuary was used as a summer nature camp.  The old barn on Rt. 172 was a nature center and library. 

They are working to refurbish the stable and attached house located at the Sarles Street entrance for a nature center and educational facilities. 

(Source:  the Sanctuary brochure)


From the parking area P1 on Route 172 in Mt. Kisco, took the red stork trail (black stork on red diamond background).   Go into a part of the garden area next door.  Go into the woods per se and into a low valley between two small hills.  Went uphill a bit and then turned left.  Go uphill a bit more, then straight.  Turn right and head down toward the pond.  See two white buildings on the right, one of them big enough to be a church.  We cross a driveway leading to parking area P2 and then on to the two buildings mentioned above.  (The drive is opposite the mail box for #71 Sarles Street.)  Head across parking lot P2 now following the black stork on an orange diamond trail.  The trail parallels Sarles Street for awhile.  Cross the stream on a bridge.  Nearby is a big pond.  The stream bubbles a bit going downhill.  There is a fork in the trail.  The left fork is the orange trail and the right fork is the yellow stork on a blue diamond trail.  The orange or blue trail leads to the top of a hill from which there is a good view of Mt. Kisco below.  The blue and orange trails together make a loop trail bringing the walker back to the original fork in the orange trail. 

Take the orange trail and then the blue trail to return (or vice-versa).  The orange trail goes up a short rise.  Then it turns right with the pond on the left.  The orange trail then goes uphill with a large field on the left.  There were a number of beautiful flowering dogwood trees in the field.  We see three deer running away.  The trail goes along a stone wall and then a wire mesh fence.  It is going to loop around a rock outcrop.  Near the top of the hill there is a huge water storage tank.  Turn right to go across the hill.  From here there is a very nice view of Mt Kisco from the top of the hill.  I see a big white apartment building and the business structure on Rt 172 that I always notice.  Come to the end of the orange trail.  Go a little ways down the hill and catch the blue trail.  This goes town hill with the rock outcrop on the right.  Go through a large meadow of little blue stem grass and return to the original fork in the path near the pond.  Turn left and return the way we came.  Nice views of Mt. Kisco.  I was wondering how much more I would see of Mt. Kisco if the leaves of the trees were all down.  Should return in late November before it gets too cold. 

Patrick L. Cooney, Ph. d. 

According to the Sanctuary brochure:  "A third parking area is further down Sarles Street near Byram Lake Road and is near to a trailhead for a one mile trail extending up to the back of Leonard Park."



Patrick L. Cooney, Ph. d.

* =  blooming on the day of the field trip, May 15, 2008



Acer sp. (Japanese maple) planted

Acer negundo (box elder)

Acer rubrum (red maple)

Acer saccharum (sugar maple)

Betula lenta (black birch)

Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)

Carya (shagbark hickory)

Carya spp. (hickory trees)

Cercis canadensis (red bud) *

Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)

Fagus grandifolia (American beech )

Fraxinus americana (white ash)

Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)

Picea abies (Norway spruce)

Pinus rigida (pitch pine)

Pinus strobus (white pine)

Prunus serotina (black cherry)

Pyrus sp. (malus probably) (apple)

Quercus alba (white oak)

Quercus palustris (pin oak)

Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)

Quercus rubra (red oak)

Quercus velutina (black oak)

Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)

Salix sp. (willow)

Taxus sp. (yew)

Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)

Ulmus americana (American elm)


Shrubs and sub-shrubs:

Alnus serrulata (smooth alder)

Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry) waning blooms

Euonymus alatus (winged euonymus) *

Forsythia sp. (forsythia) *waning

Gaylussacia baccata (black huckleberry

Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)

Lonicera morrowii (Morrow’s honeysuckle) *

Pachysandra terminalis (pachysandra) *one in bloom

Rhododendron maximum (rosebay rhododendron) *

Rhododendron sp. (white rhododendron) * hort.

Rosa multiflora (multi-flora rose)

Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry)

Rubus sp. (blackberry)

Viburnum sieboldii (Siebold’s viburnum)



Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet )

Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle)

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)

Smilax sp. (greenbrier)

Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)

Vitis sp. (grape)

Wisteria sp. (wisteria)



Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)

Ajuga sp. (bugleweed) *

Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) *

Allium tricoccum (wild leek or ramps)

Allium vineale (garlic onion (hollow stem)

Apocynum sp. (dogbane)

Aquilegia canadensis (yellow columbine) * hort.

Arctium sp. (burdock)

Arisaema triphyllum v. triphyllum (jack in the pulpit)

Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)

Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)

Aster spp. (asters)

Barbarea vulgaris (common wintercress) *

Chelidonium majus (celandine) *

Chenopodium album (pigweed)

Convallaria majalis (lily of the valley) *

Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman’s breeches)

Erythronium americanum (trout lily)

Euphorbia cyparissias (cypress spurge) *

Fragaria virginiana (common strawberry) *

Gaillardia aristata (common blanket flower) *

Galium sp. (galium)

Geranium maculatum (wild geranium) *

Geum canadense (white avens)

Hemerocallis fulva (tawny day lily)

Impatiens sp. (capensis probably) (jewelweed)

Myosotis scorpioides (forget me not) *

Plantago lanceolata (English plantain) *

Podophyllum peltatum (mayapple)

Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)

Polygonum virginianum (jumpseed)

Symplocarpus foetidus (skunk caggage)

Taraxacum officinale (dandelion) *

Tridens sp. (red clover, probably)

Typhus sp. (cattail)

Urtica dioica v. dioica (stinging nettle)

Verbascum thapsus (common mullein)

Viola sororia (common blue violet) *





Carex laxiflora type (sedge)

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Carex stricta (tussock sedge)



Anthoxanthum odoratum (sweet vernal grass) *

Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)

Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stilt grass)

Panicum clandestinum (deer-tongue grass)

Poa annua (annual bluegrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little blue stem grass)


Ferns and fern Allies:

Equisetum arvense (field horsetail)

Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay-scented fern)

Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)

Osmunda claytoniana (interrupted fern)

Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)

Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)


Trip Report from the Torrey Botanical Society


Mt. Kisco

September 9, 1967

A group of 21 members hiked through a part of the Cornelia Van Rensselaer marsh memorial Wildlife Sanctuary in Mt. Kisco, New York. The sanctuary comprises substantial acreage of marshland, woods, and fields, in addition to the 18-acre Brookside tract of upland deciduous woods visited by the group.

Flowering plants included Solidago bicolor, graminifolia and canadensis, Lobelia siphilitica, and several asters from the largest-leaved Aster macrophyllus to one of the smallest-leaved species Aster ericoides. Two violets were seen in bloom, of an undetermined species.

Participants were treated to sandwiches and cooling drink by Mrs. Marsh, after the walk. The leader was Leona T. Rem, Kitchawan Research Laboratory of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.