Thurber Nature Preserve - Finger Lakes Land Trust


Thurber Nature Preserve - Finger Lakes Land Trust

Significant HabitatSpecial TreeNative Forests/PlantsEco-Tour/Nature WalkNatural Corridor/GreenwayPedestrian FriendlyProtected/Cultivated HabitatBird and Wildlife Watching


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We welcome you, your children and future generations to rest in the shade of these trees, wonder at their majesty and gain a sense of peace and strength.

Back in the 1970's, former Cortland resident, nature lover, and dog owner Alice Thurber became disheartened because there was no local place to walk her dog. One day she took matters into her own hands and bought an 11-acre tract of land in the northwest corner of McLean Woods. Thurber's land provided a recreation place for her dog and a place for her personal repose. Twenty years later, Thurber, determined to protect this special forest, offered to donate her property to the Finger Lakes Land Trust. In 1998, the haven for Thurber and her dog became the Land Trust's newest preserve.
Natural History

Near the banks of Fall Creek hides a delightful mixture of wetland and mature hardwood forest. These natural communities support an exceptional variety of wildflowers, ferns, trees, and shrubs, including extensive areas of American yew. Increasingly rare in our region, the yew thrives on the humus-rich soil of undisturbed forests. Although it is poisonous to humans, American yew is a favorite food of white-tailed deer.

Uncommon flowers such as rose twisted-stalk and purple cress add to the uniqueness of the preserve and paint the forest with a palette of colors. Carpeting the forest floor with green are ferns, each with its own distinctive character. Goldie's fern and Clinton's fern, both rare in the Cayuga Lake Basin, bring a touch of elegance to the woods. Other, more common species such as silvery spleenwort, maidenhair fern, and sensitive fern grow here, too. Although the fronds of most ferns die in the winter, cold-weather visitors can still see the Christmas fern, cut-leaved grape fern, and evergreen wood fern poking through the snow.

A visit to the Thurber Preserve provides an opportunity to understand the grave importance of maintaining the health of our forests and streams. The trees in the preserve are relatively old compared to those of other local forests. For example, a 100-year-old hop hornbeam stands grandly in a corner of the preserve. Erosion is a powerful force of geology, sculpting the faces of mountains, canyons and valleys. It can also wipe away topsoil and degrade the water of our streams, lakes and rivers. Protecting forests such as the Thurber Preserve is an important step to avoiding the loss of nonrenewable soil and safeguarding water quality in our lakes and streams.

Acreage: 11 acres

Trail Distance: 0.5 miles

From Ithaca, take Rt. 366 NE to Freeville; continue straight on Fall Creek Rd. to McLean. Go left on Stevens Road, then left on Cemetery Lane. The preserve is located on the left after a small bridge; park off Cemetery Lane and walk up access driveway.

TCAT bus route 40, 74 and 43 until Freeville only.

To know more about this preserve and support the Finger Lakes Land Trust visit


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