Trails are now open for the 2023 season.
Note: Part of our Lowlands Loop (about 1/2 a mile from our campus entrance off Route 82) will remain closed to vehicles. The road was washed out during a storm. Pedestrians are still welcome. Please use the footbridge for walking, biking, and strollers.
- Stop by our kiosks at trailheads and throughout our roadways for brochures, maps, and guides to plant and animal life.
- During your hike, take in our interpretive kiosks. They cover an array of topics we research at Cary including acid rain, deer management, and Lyme disease.
- Be tick smart. Dutchess County has a high incidence of Lyme disease so take steps to protect yourself from tick bites. Tuck long pants in socks and use a repellant before hiking.
- Want to know what local flora and fauna you might spot before your visit? Read Barry's weekly Trail Report blog where he catalogs what he has spotted on our campus and where.
April 1 - October 31
Trails are open from sunrise to sunset. Internal roadway gates are open from 8:30 am - 7:00 pm.
The Cary Institute's hiking trails immerse visitors in a range of ecosystems, from old fields and upland forests to wetlands. These varied habitats are great for nature observation. Look for signs of ecosystem disturbance, examine lichens on a fallen tree, or just relax and enjoy the soothing sounds of bird song.
All our trails are leisurely hikes that are suitable for most. Consult our Campus Map to learn the location of our interpretive kiosks.
Cary Pines Trail
(2.1 km/1.3 mi.)
View a wooded meadow that is perfect for spring bird watching and a stand of white pines for which the trail was named. About halfway through, the trail divides, with one path leading to our internal roadways and Fern Glen.
Wappinger Creek Trail
(2 km/1.25 mi.)
Enjoy cool dark forest and the gentle sounds of the creek as you walk through a sugar maple stand and an old field that bustles with birds.
(branching off the Wappinger Creek and Cary Pines trails)
This trail enables students and visitors alike to investigate the forces that disturb our forests, such as deer browse, farming, glaciers, and lightning.
Sedge Meadow Trail
(off the Wappinger Creek trail)
Take a stroll on a small boardwalk that cuts through a young stand of red maples in a sedge-hummock wetland.
Explore a two-acre display of native plant communities that features a meandering boardwalk, a pond, and an observation deck overlooking Wappinger Creek.
The Fern Glen is a place where nature, from the infinite to the infinitesimal, is available to all of the senses. Children in our Ecology Camp seek answers to nature's questions in its contained environment where, immersed in mud, they connect science concepts with real-world examples. Visitors stroll along its paths, delighted to watch a hummingbird sip nectar from a jewelweed or admire painted turtles sunning themselves on a log. Many use the site to hone botanical skills. With hand lenses, they identify spore patterns on ferns or compare diverse plant communities.
Our lowlands bustle with bird life - bring along your binoculars!
Our lowlands landscape is made up of wetlands, grassy meadows, forests, and the East Branch of the Wappinger Creek. Explore the area by car, bicycle, or on foot. More than 126 bird species have been spotted here.