Conserving Land • Protecting Resources
Since 1987

bears denDescription

The Bear's Den Preserve consists of 15.4 acres on the summit and western escarpment of Butternut Hill, located in the middle of the Taconic valley on the Berlin-Stephentown line. The principal feature of the parcel is Bears Den, a marble solutional cave with a large main chamber and two smaller side passages (see map). The cave was known to early settlers and probably Native Americans as well.

The hill is capped with marble, which accounts for the presence of the cave and is also visible on steep exposed cliffs on the western face of the hill. Most of the summit of the hill is a shallow sinkhole dissolved out of the marble. The marble influence provides habitat for a wide variety of "rich" forest spring wildflowers such as trout lily, Dutchman's breeches, blue cohosh, wild columbine, and Canada violet. A rich sloping fen (an open wetland with calcareous substrate) is found on the southwest corner of the property. The uncommon shrubby cinquefoil grows in the fen.

Bear's Den Preserve was donated to the Rensselaer Land Trust by the Smith family in 1995.

Because access involves crossing private property of adjoining neighbors, and because of the ecological sensitivity of the habitats, access to Bear's Den Preserve is restricted, and visitors must obtain prior permission from the Land Trust. The Land Trust conducts guided visits to Bear's Den open to the public; check the Land Trust's outings schedule to see if a Bear's Den outing is scheduled this year.

Directions

Because access involves crossing private property of adjoining neighbors, and because of the ecological sensitivity of the habitats, access to Bear’s Den Preserve is restricted, and visitors must obtain prior permission from the Land Trust.

Map below: map of the cave with cross-sections. Circled numbers are passage heights in feet. Lines over or under numbers indicate floor height below or above the entrance.

 

BearsDen XI 13                BearsDenmap

Bear’s Den Preserve at a glance

  • Hours: Visitors must obtain prior permission from the Land Trust, 518-659-5263.
  • Description: Bear's Den is a small cave on Butternut Hill.
  • Activities: Hiking, birding, nature study
  • Trails: Yes
  • Handicap Accessible: No
  • Location: Berlin
  • Acres: 15

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