How Do You Train?: Butler Preserve Trails

The Arthur W. Butler Memorial Sanctuary is owned by the Nature Conservancy.  It is located in Bedford, NY just south of exit 4 on I-684 and across the highway from the Westmoreland Sanctuary.

The sanctuary has over 300 acres and a perimeter loop of approximately 4.5 – 5 miles, depending on where you park.  The map (blue trail) shown in the image to the right is around 3.5 miles round trip. 

The main parking lot is just off of Chestnut Ridge Rd in Bedford.  Cross over the bridge and park in the parking lot near the office house.  Just inside the trailhead is a large trail map that will help orient you.  If you go up the hill to the left you will get to the hawk watch which is the highest point in the preserve.  Going straight ahead takes you to the main trail.  Going to the right just after the main trail begins takes you on the wetlands trail.

There is another entrance via a very small parking shoulder on Byram Lake Road where you can park and hike/run up to the main trails.  This is a good place to go if you want some hills training.  The climb is steady and if you go all of the way to the top of the hawk watch it is over 350 vertical feet and about a half mile.  The hawk watch is popular in the fall as a place to see the raptor migration.  You can also see Long Island Sound from the highest point.

In addition to the perimeter trail, there are several crossing trails if you want to shorten your run/hike.  In the lowest part of the preserve (westernmost), there is an unmarked cut through to a BRLA trail that hooks up to the Westchester county-owned Merestead Park.  The Merestead trail is marked in orange on the map shown here.  Merestead has a 2 mile perimeter trail and can be used to extend the Butler run or connect it to other Preserves in the area such as the Marsh or Meyer properties.  We will write these up in another article. 

In the northeastern part of the park, there is a low, wetlands area that is teeming with life year round.  The wetlands trail joins back up with the main trail and heads up and down hills from there.  There is a spur trail called “Sunset Point” that goes off the main trail and dead-ends at a western-facing overlook.  Take the short detour—it is worth the look. The westernmost perimeter head downhill steadily and travel along and over a stream bed.  The climb back up (either clockwise or counterclockwise) is another challenge.  The lower stream bed area is where the Merestead-BRLA unmarked connector trail can be found.  When you are on the western side of the stream, try bushwhacking a bit for about 100 yards west and you should run into the BRLA trail.

More writeups to come!  Tell us where you train in the comments.