This was my second attempt to visit this preserve. The first time, I found the parking area full — though it can easily accommodate 6 or 7 cars — and didn’t really see an alternative place to park. As this preserve recently joined the Bedford Audubon Society it has received some attention, which can lead to more visitors. That’s a good thing!
The preserve is a little hard to find, as it’s along Route 172 which has a speed limit of 45 MPH. Though if you are traveling at 45 MPH you’re likely to have someone riding your bumper. I have found that there is a tendency for drivers in Westchester to aggressively tailgate, even if you’re already going five to ten miles over the limit. Annoying. Anyway, the entrance is marked by a small sign, as shown below. It’s on the right side of the road if you’re heading east.
There is a large sign as you start on the trails of the preserve, and it states that this preserve was previously maintained by The Nature Conservancy. It still exists on their website and in their Preserve Guide from 2000. Why it changed hands, I’m not sure. There were no maps available at the kiosk, but as the trail is just a loop it would be hard to get lost. You could also just print the one above before visiting.
Though not a large preserve, it does contain a couple of lakes with nice places to stop, sit and reflect, (and enjoy a home-made granola bar) while out on a walk. Blue Heron Lake is the main lake, but there is another smaller one to the east, which appears to be contained within the boundaries of the preserve, and though there are trails, they are not well marked. It’s easy enough to navigate, though, as the trail just circles the lake.
The trails that are marked basically loop through the preserve, passing Blue Heron Lake and its islands. The main trail is blazed Blue, and there is a small Yellow-blazed trail that takes you past a massive oak tree.
There are remnants of what I’ve read is an old conifer plantation, in the form of an old one-story house with a caved-in roof, and what appears to be a root cellar, which has a padlocked door.
I usually visit preserves early in the morning, but on this day I came a little later. There were quite a few people out walking their dogs, which as posted, is not allowed. I’m really not sure how the organizations that own and/or manage these preserves enforce this rule. It seems that self-regulation isn’t working. I don’t mind dogs, and think that if the owners are responsible, and keep them on their leash, they should be allowed. I rarely see dogs on their leashes, though.
The area I found most interesting, and attractive, was the lake to the east with its unmarked trail. It appears that the trail was marked at one point, but was given up on. It would be interesting to know why. Anyhow, there is a point on the Blue trail where an unmarked trail cuts off to the left, if you’re walking counter-clockwise. A sign posted on a tree says that you’re leaving the nature preserve, or something like that. I was a little skeptical of taking this trail, as I don’t like going on private land uninvited, but as I walked to the southern end I noticed posted signs facing away from the lake that stated that this is a nature preserve. I can only assume that it’s part of the Morgenthau Preserve.
The trail loops around the lake, and offers many attractive places to stop for a rest or snack. It’s a very attractive little lake with many rock-outcroppings and shade trees.
Overall, the Henry Morgenthau Preserve is quite nice, and if you include the secondary lake loop, it’s a decent workout.