Town of Bedford, Westchester County, NY
363 acres


Take I-684 north about 25 miles to exit 4. Go west on Route 172 toward Mount Kisco for 0.3 mile; turn left onto Chestnut Ridge Road. Go 1.5 miles south; turn right over the bridge. Park on the left near the entrance sign.


This preserve and the adjacent Meyer Preserve, only about one hour from Manhattan, include over 20 miles of trails through a variety of habitats, including swamps, ravines, open fields, and ledges.

Geology (Audubon Guide):

ridge and swale topography (highest point 775 feet); underlain by metamorphic and igneous rock.

This region was once very active geologically, as seen in the swirls of metamorphic rock, which forms ledges at the sanctuary's entrance. These ledges provide an excellent vantage point for hawk watching in late summer and early fall.

The rocks are Fordham gneiss and schist, formed by a heating, melting, and cooling process about 3 billion years ago. The different layers, which are clearly visible, show the various minerals contained within the rock, which settled and hardened at different stages of the metamorphic process.

There are rock outcroppings that contain a large percentage of white and gray marble. This was formed when heat and pressure deep within the earth transformed limestone into a hard, crystalline substance, which was later brought to the surface by geological upheavals.


The original grant was 225 acres, given by Mrs. Butler in 1954 in memory to her late husband (who was an amateur astronomer). The Butler family had owned the land since the turn of the century. In 1957 the Walter Huber family presented twenty acres to the sanctuary. Thomas W. Keesee, Jr., chairman of the board of trustees (1962-1970) helped acquire an additional 107 acres.

In 1972 the Robert J. Hammershlag Hawkwatch was constructed at the most prominent overlook at Butler. In 1994 the hawkwatch was rebuilt and expanded. (The Nature Conservancy, Lower Hudson Chapter, Fall 1996, pp. 6-7)


Take the Basin Ravine Trail from the parking lot and continue past the trail junction to the hawk-watch platform at the top of the ledge.

Return to the junction of the Basin Trail and turn left, continuing through a mature hemlock grove with an understory of American chestnut.

Pass through a red-maple swamp in a depression between two ridges. Here are sphagnum moss, knotweeds, and red maple.

The trail climbs; there is a large red oak about 30 inches in diameter and probably 150 to 200 years old.

The trail descends a steep ravine and climbs again.   The trail descends again and continues along the bottom of the high ridge on the right.

The trail now climbs steeply up a field of boulders, which were pulled off the ridge above as the glacier moved down the side.

At the top of the ridge is a side trail that leads to Sunset Ledge, a good place to rest and enjoy the view west. In the distance are the Hudson Highlands, and the other side of the river can sometimes be seen about 5 miles away.

The more strenuous part of the hike is now over, and the trail gradually descends through mixed forest and open fields, bordered by a white pine and Norway spruce plantation, back to the entrance and parking area.

The hike is moderate, steep in places. It covers about 3 miles, requiring 2 hours. There are other trails.


Dr. Patrick Louis Cooney

Acer platanoides (Norway maple)
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Ailanthus altissima (tree-of-heaven)
Amelanchier arborea (shadbush) 4/26
Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Betula populifolia (gray birch)
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood) 6/18 fruit
Carya glabra (pignut hickory)
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)
Carya sp. (hickory)
Carya tomentosa (mockernut hickory)
Castanea dentata (American chestnut)
Catalpa bignonioides (catalpa) 6/18
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood) 5/6
Crataegus sp. (hawthorn)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree) 5/31
Nyssa sylvatica (tupelo)
Ostrya virginiana (hop hornbeam) 6/18 fruit
Picea abies (Norway spruce)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Populus grandidentata (big toothed aspen)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Prunus sp. (cherry) 4/26
Pyrus sp. (crab apple) 5/6
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus bicolor (swamp white oak)
Quercus palustris (pin oak)
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Tilia americana (American basswood)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)
Ulmus americana (American elm)

Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry) 5/6
Chimaphila maculata (spotted wintergreen)
Clethra alnifolia (sweet pepperbush) 8/3/96
Cornus racemosa (gray dogwood) 6/13
Elaeagnus umbellata (autumn olive) 5/23/04 5/31 
Euonymus alatus (winged euonymus)
Gaylussacia baccata (black huckleberry) 5/31
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Ilex verticillata (winterberry holly)
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel) 6/13
Lindera benzoin (spicebush) 4/26
Lonicera sp. (honeysuckle)
Lyonia ligustrina (maleberry) 6/18
Mitchella repens (partridgeberry) 6/18
Myrica pensylvanica (bayberry)
Rhamnus sp. (buckthorn)
Rhododendron periclymenoides (pink azalea) 5/31 fading
Rhododendron viscosum (swamp azalea)
Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose) 6/13
Rubus alleghaniensis (common blackberry) 5/31
Rubus hispidus (swamp dewberry)  5/23/04
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry)
Rubus sp. (blackberry) 6/13
Sambucus canadensis (common elderberry)
Spiraea latifolia (meadowsweet) 8/30
Spiraea tomentosa (steeplebush) 8/3/96
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry) 5/6
Vaccinium pallidum (hillside blueberry)
Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf viburnum)
Viburnum lentago (sweet viburnum)
Viburnum dentatum (arrowwood viburnum) 6/13

Amphicarpaea bracteata (hog peanut)
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Polygonum convolvulus (black bindweed) ?
Smilax rotundifolia (round-leaved greenbrier)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vitis sp. (grape)

Achillea millefolium (yarrow)
Actaea alba (white baneberry)   5/23/04
Agrimonia sp. (agrimony)
Alisma subcordatum (water plantain) 8/30
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) 5/6   5/23/04
Anemonella thalictroides (rue anemone) 5/6 and 6/18
Anemone quinquefolia (wood anemone) 4/26
Antenarria plataginifolia (plantain-leaved pussytoes)   5/23/04
Apocynum cannabinum (Indian hemp)
Arisaema triphyllum (Jack-in-the-pulpit) 5/6
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Aster vimineus (small white aster) 8/30
Bidens connata (swamp beggartick) 8/30
Callitriche sp. (water starwort)
Cardamine cucullaria (Dutchman's breeches) 4/26
Caulophyllum thalictroides (blue cohosh) 5/6
Cerastium vulgatum (mouse-ear chickweed)   5/23/04
Chrysanthemum leucanthemum (oxeye daisy) 6/13
Chrysosplenium americanum (golden saxifrage)
Cichorium intybus (chicory) 8/3/96
Cimicifuga racemosa (American bugbane)
Circaea lutetiana (enchanter's nightshade) 8/3/96
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace) 8/3/96
Epilobium coloratum (purple willowherb) 8/30
Erechtites hieraciifolia (pilewort) 8/3/96
Erythronium americanum (trout lily)
Euthamia graminifolia (grass-leaved goldenrod) 8/30
Fragaria virginiana (strawberry)
Galium circaezens (wild licorice)
Galium aparine (cleavers)
Galium mollugo (wild madder) 6/13
Galium palustre (marsh bedstraw) 8/3/96
Geranium maculatum (wild geranium)  5/23/04 5/31 
Goodyera sp. (rattlesnake plantain)
Hieracium floribundum (pale hawkweed) 6/13
Hieracium pratense (field hawkweed) 6/13
Hieracium venosum (rattlesnake hawkweed)  5/23/04 6/13 
Hydrocotyle americana (water pennywort)
Hypericum mutilum (dwarf St. Johnswort) 8/30
Hypoxis hirsuta (yellow stargrass)  5/23/04 5/31
Impatiens capensis (orange jewelweed)
Iris versicolor (blue flag)
Lapsana communis (nipplewort) 6/18
Linaria vulgaris (butter-and-eggs) 8/30
Ludwigia palustris (marsh purslane)
Lysimachia quadrifolia (whorled loosestrife) 6/18
Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife) 8/30
Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower)  5/23/04 5/31
Medeola virginiana (Indian cucumber root)
Medicago lupulina (black medick) 8/3/96
Melilotus alba (white sweet clover) 8/3/96
Melilotus officinalis (yellow sweet clover) 8/3/96
Monotropa uniflora (Indian pipe) 8/3/96
Oxalis sp. (yellow wood sorrel)   5/23/04
Paronychia canadensis (forked chickweed)
Pedicularis canadensis (wood betony)
Plantago lanceolata (English plantain) 8/3/96
Plantago major (common plantain)
Polygonatum biflorum (true Solomon's seal)
Polygonatum pubescens (hairy true Solomon's seal)
Polygonum arifolium (halberd-leaved tearthumb)
Polygonum cespitosum (cespitose knotweed) 8/3/96
Polygonum hydropiperoides (mild waterpepper) 8/30
Polygonum sagittatum (arrow-leaved tearthumb)
Potentilla simplex (common cinquefoil)  5/23/04 5/31
Prenanthes altissima (tall white lettuce)
Ranunculus abortivus (kidney-leaved crowfoot) 5/6
Ranunculus acris (tall buttercup)  5/23/04 5/31
Ranunculus recurvatus (hooked crowfoot)  5/23/04
Ranunculus repens (creeping buttercup)  5/23/04
Ranunculus septentrionalis (swamp buttercup)
Rudbeckia hirta v pulcherrima (black-eyed Susan) 8/3/96
Rumex acetosella (sheep sorrel)
Rumex obtusifolius (broad-leaved dock)
Scutellaria lateriflora (mad-dog skullcap) 8/3
Silene vulgaris (bladder campion) 6/13 8/3/96
Sisyrinchium sp. (blue-eyed grass) 6/13
Smilacina racemosa (false Solomon's seal)  5/23/04
Solidago rugosa (rough-stemmed goldenrod) 8/30
Sparganium androcladum (branching bur-reed) 8/30
Stellaria pubera (star chickweed) 5/31
Symplocarpus foetidus (skunk cabbage)
Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion)  5/23/04 5/6
Thalictrum pubescens (tall meadowrue)
Tragopogon pratensis (goatsbeard) 6/18 fruit
Triadenum virginicum (marsh St. Johnswort)
Trifolium pratense (red clover) 6/13 8/3/96
Trillium erectum (red trillium) 4/26
Typha latifolia (broad-leaved cattail)
Uvularia perfoliata (perfoliate bellwort)
Veratrum viride (swamp hellebore)
Verbena hastata (blue vervain) 8/30
Veronica officinalis (common speedwell)  5/23/04 6/13
Vicia cracca (cow vetch) 6/13
Viola cucullata (marsh blue violet)  5/23/04 5/31
Viola pallens (northern white violet)
Viola sororia (common blue violet) 5/6
Viola sp. (violet)  5/23/04

Juncus effusus (soft rush)
Luzula multiflora (wood rush)

Carex crinita (sedge)
Carex intumescens (bladder sedge)
Carex laxiflora type (loose-flowered sedge type)
Carex ovales type (sedge)
Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)
Carex rosea sedge, stellate
Carex sp. (sedge)
Carex stipata (sedge)
Carex stricta (tussock sedge) 5/6
Carex vulpinoidea var. vulpinoidea (fox sedge)
Cyperus filiculmis (slender cyperus) 8/3/96
Eleocharis sp. (spikerush)
Scirpus atrovirens (dark green bulrush)
Scirpus cyperinus (woolly grass bulrush)

Anthoxanthum odoratum (sweet vernal grass)
Bromus inermis (smooth brome grass)
Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)
Festuca elatior (meadow fescue grass)
Panicum clandestinum (deer-tongue grass)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)
Poa annua (annual bluegrass)
Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem grass)

Ferns and Fern Allies:
Equisetum arvense (field horsetail)
Lycopodium  obscurum (ground pine)
Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern)
Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay-scented fern)
Dryopteris sp. (spinulose woodfern)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)
Osmunda claytoniana (interrupted fern)
Osmunda regalis (royal fern)
Polypodium sp. (rockcap fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Pteridium aquilinum (bracken fern)
Sphagnum sp. (sphagnum moss)
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)
Thelypteris palustris (marsh fern)