Laurel Ledges – Sterling Farm

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Town of Patterson – 37.0 Acres.
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History
Donated to the Putnam County Land Trust in 1997, this 37 acre-Parcel was once part of one of the 100-acre farms carved out of the Philipse lands for Revolutionay War Veterans. In the early 1800’s, it belonged to the Couch family. Hezekiah Couch was the first Commissioner of Highways of the Town of Patterson.  This property became Sterling Farm after Charles Fitzhugh Simon and Edith Sterling Simon acquired the land in 1918. They lived here, raising dairy cattle and crops.

Exploring The Preserve
The hillside was dairy pasture until the late 1920’s, but is now maturing second growth oak forest.  Black, Red and Chestnut Oaks are abundant on the rocky terrain. Lowbush Blueberry is the dominant shrub-layer plant along with magnificent Mountain Laurel. There is a small wetland community at the northern end of the property. The foundation of the old dairy barn is still visible at the edge of the wetland.

Preserve Features
1. Hilltop Community: A north-facing slope, where limited sunlight means seasonal changes may be several weeks behind other areas in this region. Look for butterflies, Partridge Berry, Pipsissewa, ferns, mosses, and Lowbush Blueberry.
2. Mountain Laurel: Acidic, rocky, shady environments are where this plant thrives. Spectacular blooms in late May/early June.
3. Old Sterling Farm Well
4. Overlook: The elevation at this point on the trail makes it possible to gaze directly into the treetops of the woods below. Normally birds are observed from the forest floor, but this location provides a special view of the birds in the forest canopy.
5. Upland Wetlands: Home to a variety of native plants including Blue Flag Iris, Marsh Marigold, Cinnamon Fern, Royal Fern, and Blue-eyed Mountain Grass.

About the Trail
The trail is steep in the initial ascent and final descent but it is not overwhelming. On the descent, a guide rope is present to make it a bit easier. The trail took about 75 minutes to hike stopping for numerous snacks with three young children (10,8 and 5). Marvelous rock outcroppings and mature trees make this a very nice hike.

Access
From Route 164, turn onto Cornwall Hill Road. Go 0.8 mile and turn right onto Couch Road. Continue 0.4 mile to parking area on the right side of this road. Markers on trees serve as trail guides. Click here for a Google Map and customizable directions.

Other Notes
Parking is limited and go slow once you are on Couch Road. Look for the large brown signs with the preserve name on it and parking is just off on the side of the road. The trail goes in a semi-circle, so you start on one side of couch road and end up towards the corner. A small bridge is present on the west side of the road before you get to the street.

Trail Regulations
Please sign in before beginning your hike. Help us protect and preserve the plant and animal life found on this property by not disturbing the area, staying on the paths, and by observing the trail regulations posted at the entrance.

Click here to see a map of:  The Preserves within the Laurel Ledges Natural Area