Wednesday, June 15, 2011

NNY Nature Trails: the Chaumont Barrens

We recently visited the Nature Conservancy Park in Chaumont, NY, called the Chaumont Barrens. It's a beautiful park with a unique geography that is apparently very rare in the world. So, while the North Country has many wonderful walking trails and nature parks, this will be our first feature.

Accessibility: Medium-hard.
Pets: Not allowed.
Sites: Very good; many and varied.
Wildlife: Very diverse; birds, amphibians, small and large mammals, insects, flowers, mosses.
Others: Fossils, stone features.
Best time to visit: Late spring and early summer.

This is an excellent trail for older children and adults. Parts of it were somewhat difficult to access and the trail entrance itself is off of a tiny dirt road that is easily missed by the casual traveler. The countryside is beautiful, however, and it is well worth the drive.

Here you will find a wide diversity of sites spread over a small area. There are deciduous forests, a coniferous forest, and grasslands marked by post-glacial lichens and boulder erratics. The area also lies on an ancient fault line, so there may be some particular interest for geological enthusiasts. In places, the bared limestone offers glimpses of ancient oceans in the form of fossils. Hundreds of new species of snail have been discovered here; people have purportedly seen everything from small rodents to coyotes and foxes hiding among the stone crevasses in the ground. The forest floors and meadows are littered with any number of blossoms from May through July, including yellow lady's slippers, chicory, daisies, red columbines, and the very rare prairie smoke blossoms. Since parts of the trail are low enough for a little water retention, you may also find many different kinds of animal footprints after a rainfall.

Remember to wear long pants and sleeves whenever you venture into overgrown areas to protect against ticks and other hazards such as poisonous plants. Sun screen is also a good idea; especially for this trail, which crosses wide open spaces between forested areas. Always hike in groups and bring plenty of water. Take only pictures, leave only footprints.

Happy explorations!


  1. This place looks wonderful to visit! I love walking through nature that has been conserved like this! Long pants looks like a definate must! ~Val

  2. I can smell the cool mossy smell just looking at your pics! Defininitely the home of gnomes and fairies!