The Papscanee Island Nature Preserve is open to visitors and is enjoying its third year under the management of the Rensselaer County Legislature through the Rensselaer County Environmental Management Council. The preserve is a 156-acre natural area located in East Greenbush and Schodack and offers public access to over 2 miles of Hudson River shoreline. It is open dawn to dusk 365 days each year, and is free to the public.
History: In the late 1980’s, development pressure was great in the area now known as the Papscanee Island Nature Preserve. Environmentalists, naturalists, and lovers of the Hudson River were very concerned over the loss of this land to commerce, as the area was a valuable wildlife habitat and enjoyed the distinction of being an untouched natural area where visitors enjoyed hiking and bird-watching. In an unprecedented intervention, the Open Space Institute, a not-for-profit land preservation organization, purchased a network of parcels that now form the preserve. The cost of purchase was nearly $500,000. OSI placed conservation easements on the property, and purchased easements on adjoining property, ensuring that this land will remain in an undeveloped state forever. However, after purchase the preserve remained a relatively undeveloped passive recreational facility, as OSI does not actively manage (develop and maintain trails, etc.) their property. In 1995, the Rensselaer County Legislature asked the Rensselaer County Environmental Management Council to explore management\ownership possibilities with OSI. In 1996, in joint partnership with OSI, a parking lot was developed off Staats Island Road in Schodack, and in 1997 the county took over active management of the site.
Description: The preserve offers over 6 miles of hiking trails, three picnic areas, two educational kiosks, and a number of informational signs. It has as its central theme a tribute to the Mohican tribe, the native peoples who lived, hunted, and cultivated these lands. Walking the trails, visitors can learn what Native Americans used plants, bark, and roots for and they can read how the Mohicans lived and thrived. Other interpretive signs teach about the value of the estuary and wetlands. Park benches are placed strategically throughout the preserve so visitors can rest and perhaps hear or see several of the hundreds of animals that call the preserve home. In the winter, by entering the preserve through the north entrance just south of the City of Rensselaer, visitors can enjoy winter hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. In the summer, car-top boat owners can access the Hudson River by carrying their craft merely 500 feet from the parking lot off Staats Island Road to the first picnic area along the southern boundary of the preserve.
Location: From Troy, take 787 south to the Empire State Plaza\Rensselaer exit. Bear left toward Rensselaer and cross over the Hudson River to Route 9 & 20. About ½ mile after getting off the exit ramp and on to 9&20, take a right on Route 9J. To get to the summer entrance (April-October), go 4.5 miles south on Route 9J and take a right at the Papscanee Island Nature Preserve sign which is located on Staats Island Road. Travel about ¼ mile and cross the Amtrak tracks (watch out for signal!), turning right just after the tracks into the preserve’s parking lot. Gates open at 7 am and close at dusk. To access the north entrance for skiing and winter hiking, take your first right after getting on Route 9J just outside the City of Rensselaer (see Papscanee sign). Go approximately 2 miles to the end, park at gate to access trails.
ENJOY THIS COUNTY RESOURCE…..IT TRULY IS UNIQUE!!
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