Mianus River Gorge, Westchester County, New York

Another source for learning of hiking locations is the Nature Conservancy. Its website is not that easy to navigate, but if you keep drilling through it you might find a list of places worth visiting.

Because of a late start, I only had time for a short hike this day, and I decided to visit the Mianus River Gorge, which has a page on the Nature Conservancy’s website and which also has its own website. In 1964, the Gorge was designated a Registered Natural History Landmark. It is only about ten miles from the Mount Holly Preserve, which I visited a month earlier. Unfortunately, the Mianus River Gorge facility closes at 5:00 p.m., which is a shame since it doesn’t get dark for another three hours.

A kiosk near the entrance presents a number of posters with information about the Gorge. The Larger versions are large image files, so that if you want, you can zoom in and read the text.

Introductory poster, Mianus River Gorge, Westchester County, NY

Introduction

"Early years" poster, Mianus River Gorge, Westchester County, NY

“Early Years”

History poster, Mianus River Gorge, Westchester County, NY

History

Old-growth forest poster, Mianus River Gorge, Westchester County, NY

Old-growth forest

Threats to the forest poster, Mianus River Gorge, Westchester County, NY

Threats to the forest

Protecting the Watershed Poster, Mianus River Gorge, Westchester County, NY

Protecting the watershed

The trail(s) start out and as may be seen, are very-well defined. At the beginning, the trails are bordered by logs, which help to define the trail and keep people from veering off and trampling the adjacent vegetation. However, later on they stopped using the logs. Still, it is easy enough to follow the trail based on the ground being trampled.

Trailhead, Mianus River Gorge, Westchester County, NY

Trailhead

Trail, Mianus River Gorge, Westchester County, NY

Trail

Once again, I encounter stone walls. Their brochure says that the stone walls date back to the early 19th Century.

It’s quite hard to see in this photo, but there is a wire mesh fence a few feet in front of my position. To the right, it’s easier to see a wooden gate for that fence. This is a deer “exclosure,” an area that they have fenced off to keep deer out, for research projects.

Stone wall, Mianus River Gorge, Westchester County, NY

Stone wall

Where is a botanist when you need one? This looks like a wetlands plant. I realized about halfway through the hike that I had my camera set for indoor lighting, and reset it for an outdoor cloudy day. I’ve increased the reds and decreased the blues of those photos, but they are still far from perfect.

Wetlands plants

Wetlands plants

You know the saying, “It’s hard to see the forest because of the trees?” Well, there’s a river back there, but it’s hard to see it through the trees. I haven’t figured out how this works, but when I’m on a trail, my brain filters out the trees in the foreground and I can see things behind it very clearly. But if I then take a picture and look at the picture, I can only see the trees. I don’t know if that’s a function of stereoscopic vision or if it’s because I have a much wider field of view than the camera does, so that my brain has more information to work with. So I frequently feel that I’m looking at something beautiful but it’s difficult or impossible for me to get a decent shot of it.

Mianus Rivery, NY

Mianus River

Here you see that the trail continues without logs bordering it.

Trail, Mianus River Gorge, Westchester County, NY

Trail

A fallen tree has roots with an interesting shape.

Spidery tree roots

Spidery tree roots

Trail, Mianus River Gorge, Westchester County, NY

Trail

It would be hard to get lost here. The trails are roughly linear, following the river south toward Connecticut. There is a green trail (“River Trail”) that is 0.3 miles each way (0.6 miles round trip). There is a blue trail (“Old Farmland Trail”) that is 1.05 miles each way (2.1 miles round trip). Finally, there is a red trail (“Old Growth Forest Trail”) that is 2.2 miles each way (4.4 miles round trip). There are no loop trails, but one can take the red trail to the end, then backtrack and at one point switch to the blue trail to return to the parking lot. That yields a 4 mile round trip, so it cuts a bit off the round trip one would have just sticking to the red trail. The red and blue trails cross at a number of points and share the same path at a few points, so they really only diverge at two or three locations. I took the red trail/blue trail combination, so I had about a 4-mile hike. It only took me about two hours.

Unlike other places I’ve hiked, the trails aren’t “blazed” by having trees painted with a splash of color or being affixed with a colored disk. Rather, they just have signs every once in a while. But this preserve is relatively popular and the trails are well-trod, so it’s easy to keep on the trail even without the blazing.

Trail sign, Mianus River Gorge, Westchester County, NY

Trail sign

This is a better view of the Mianus River, which “provides a source of drinking water for over 100,000 people in Greenwich and Stamford Connecticut, and Port Chester, Rye and Rye Brook, New York.” This is Rockwall Breach, the narrowest point across the Gorge, cut by melting glacial waters 15,000-20,000 years ago.

Mianus River, NY

Mianus River

Another stone wall.

Stone wall, Mianus River Gorge, Westchester County, NY

Stone wall

There’s a short detour from the red trail that leads to the Hobby Hill Quarry. Local farmers mined mica, quartz and feldspar here. There are a few nice quart rocks and boulders, and the mica is fascinating stuff, which has a few rocks being very reflective.

Mica

Mica

This is the quarry area. The sign reads, “No collecting of minerals. Leave for others to see.” Again, it’s a shame that my camera can’t record what my eyes saw, which was a lot of glittering light being reflected by the mica.

Quarry, Mianus River Gorge, Westchester County, NY

Quarry

Returning to the red trail, here’s another stone wall, being one of the more substantial ones that I’ve seen.

Stone wall, Mianus River Gorge, Westchester County, NY

Stone wall

This is a shot from the Gorge Overlook, one of the steepest points in the preserve. Again, it’s hard to see anything because of the trees. We’re supposedly looking at “an ancient hemlock-hardwood forest dating back to pre-colonial America.”

Overlook, Mianus River Gorge, Westchester County, NY

Overlook

Here’s an intersection of a number of walls.

Stone walls, Mianus River Gorge, Westchester County, NY

Stone walls

Here are a couple of shots (the second using the zoom feature) where one has a better view of the Mianus River in the distance, as it is widening.

Mianus River Gorge, Westchester County, NY

Mianus River Gorge

Mianus River, NY

Mianus River

The trails cross two tributaries that flow down to the Mianus River. The first one, Saffords Cascade, was apparently so dry that I missed it. This is the second, leading to Havemeyer Falls.

Tributary to Havemeyer Falls, Mianus River Gorge, Westchester County, NY

Tributary to Havemeyer Falls

Tributary to Havemeyer Falls, Mianus River Gorge, Westchester County, NY

Tributary to Havemeyer Falls

Havemeyer Falls, Mianus River Gorge, Westchester County, NY

Havemeyer Falls

I’ve now walked downhill to Havemeyer Falls. The falling water did not make a great visual impression, but it sounded nice. I guess one has to come at a different time of year to enjoy more of a waterfall. The preserve is only open from April 1 to November 30, though.

Havemeyer Falls, Mianus River Gorge, Westchester County, NY

Havemeyer Falls

A creepy-crawly thing:

Millipede

Millipede

I’ve reached the end of the 2.2-mile red trail. It dead-ends where the Mianus River has widened into the S.J. Bargh Reservoir, on private property owned by the Connecticut-American Water Co.

S.J. Bargh Reservoir, Westchester Country, NY

S.J. Bargh Reservoir

Walking back, I encountered this brightly colored bug.

Beetle

Beetle

There’s a chipmunk in the center of this shot. I didn’t see any deer or other critters.

Chipmunk

Chipmunk

I thought this was a nice contrast between the dead brown leaves in the foreground and the bright green ground color in the background.

Trail, Mianus River Gorge, Westchester County, NY

Scene with contrast

Another wall.

Stone wall, Mianus River Gorge, Westchester County, NY

Stone wall

A wall, large boulders, and a fallen tree with interesting roots.

Stone wall and Boulders, Mianus River Gorge, Westchester County, NY

Stone wall and boulders

This was about a 4-mile to 5-mile hike, and as I said, it only took me two hours. I saw a number of hikers. I was wearing boots, and long pants and a long shirt to keep bugs away, and was carrying a backpack with water, whereas I think they were wearing shorts and
sneakers and not carrying any packs. I don’t know which of us was smarter; maybe them.

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