Sometimes gems are hidden right under your nose without you noticing. That’s how I felt when my family discovered Upland Farms Sanctuary in Cold Spring Harbor, New York. Situated on the North Shore in Long Island, I had passed through this town numerous times, but never knew about this dairy farm turned Nature Conservancy office. The 97-acre preserve boasts nature trails and promises of wildlife sightings.
The Nature Conservancy’s mission is to protect our lands and water. The long path leading to the Uplands Farm Sanctuary welcomes visitors with its charming old farm buildings, farm silo, and open fields. According to the Uplands Farm site:
The gravelly, acidic soils of Uplands Farm are difficult to fertilize, so over the years raising livestock seems to have been preferable to cultivation. In colonial times, the land was most likely used for sheep ranching for wool. In 1920, the Nichols family began raising cattle and ultimately ran a dairy at Uplands Farm until 1962.
Mrs. Jane Nichols, a long-time resident and owner of Uplands Farm, donated three parcels of the preserve to the Conservancy. Upon her death in 1981, additional parcels were acquired. The sanctuary is dedicated to the memory of Mrs. Nichols.”
My husband discovered Uplands Farm Sanctuary through a local magazine feature. Though it’s no longer a dairy farm (so no cows for kids to see), it did provide family-friendly nature trails. They looked doable for our family of four, including a toddler and another young child. We didn’t want to hike a difficult trail (the preserve provides several trail options), and wanted a trail that provided some shade. The Uplands Farm Sanctuary didn’t disappoint.
We hiked the one-mile Daniel P. Davison Trail that brought us through the forest and open fields. We easily followed the marked, mowed trail lined with plenty of trees that provided shade. The mostly flat unobstructed trail was perfect for my girls who ran with glee. Along the way we viewed butterflies, bugs, flowers, bunnies, and birds (my girls especially loved the birdhouses). The tail end of the loop brought us along a split-rail fence bordering Lawrence Hill Road across from Cold Spring Harbor High School.
Another trail stretched 2.41 miles. The longer West Loop is not as flat as the Daniel P. Davison Trail and goes by a private residence. It did connect to the 20-mile National Recreation Trail that is part of the Long Island Greenbelt (Nassau-Suffolk Trail) for those who want a more challenging hike. To navigate the trails, download a trail map.
According to the website, look for this wildlife when on the trails: Bobolink, Meadowlark, Bluebird, Red-tail hawk, Wood frog, Spotted Salamander, Turtles, Migratory Sarblers, and Monarch butterfly.
Plan Your Visit to the Uplands Farm Sanctuary in Long Island
Make sure to wear comfortable walking or hiking shoes. Wear sunscreen and insect repellent. Water and snacks are helpful, especially when bringing kids. Leave the stroller in the car; the wheels won’t roll easily over the grass paths.
Admission is free. The parking lot holds up to 10 vehicles. The preserve is open from dawn to dusk, seven days a week. The Nature Conservancy office (Long Island Chapter) is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. No pets, horses or bikes are allowed. Uplands Farm Sanctuary is located at 250 Lawrence Hill Rd, Cold Spring Harbor, NY 11724.