Conserving Land • Protecting Resources
Since 1987

As of January 1, 2024, the Rensselaer Land Trust has merged with the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance. For all questions regarding donations, events, land, or other matters, please visit or call 518-712-9211. For questions about the merger, use extension 101 to speak with Jim Bonesteel. You can expect a new name and logo for our merged organization by Spring / Summer 2024 and a new website by the end of the year!


The John B. Staalesen Vanderheyden Preserve in South Troy is one of several Rensselaer Land Trust preserves that provide opportunities for the public to connect with nature. The Preserve protects some of Troy’s limited remaining undeveloped open space. Its location in the middle of a residential development in Troy makes it easy for city residents to visit and explore a natural area.

The Staalesen Preserve includes 24 acres of fields, woods, and wetlands, and is bordered on one side by the Wynants Kill. Part of the Preserve has an open park‐like feel due to its history of human activity and recent municipal infrastructure improvements. The remainder of the Preserve has more natural habitats, including floodplain (streamside) forest and a marsh with a beaver dam. The preserve provides habitat for a wide variety of wildlife, including deer, pileated woodpecker, wild turkey, and belted kingfisher.

A network of walking paths allows visitors to walk, snowshoe, cross country ski, bird, and just enjoy the scenery. One path passes through a streamside forest of cottonwood and silver maple on its way to the shore of the Wynants Kill, at a spot good for fishing and creek walking.

staalensen2As a complementary activity, the Rensselaer Land Trust has allowed Capital Roots to establish a community garden plot near the entrance of the preserve.

The property continues its long history as a community resource. At one time, it was part of the Troy Orphan Asylum, renamed Vanderheyden Hall in 1942 in honor of the Van Der Heyden family, founders of Troy.

The Preserve was donated in 2011 by the Staalesen family in memory of builder John B. Staalesen who built residences throughout upstate New York for 40 years, including the adjacent Vanderheyden developments. "In keeping with my dad's desire to create neighborhoods for families to grow and for children to run, play and explore, we are proud and excited to donate this land to the Rensselaer Land Trust," said Jim Staalesen on behalf of the Staalesen family.


The preserve is open to the public from dawn to dusk for non‐motorized recreational use such as walking, fishing, skiing, snowshoeing, birding, nature viewing and nature study. Motorized vehicles such as ATV’s and motorcycles are not permitted.


The main entrance to the John B. Staalesen Vanderheyden Preserve is in South Troy off Campbell Avenue at the end of Wynantskill Way in the Vanderhayden Estates residential development. Campbell Avenue runs from Route 4 at the Burden Pond Park up to Spring Ave, which in turn intersects with Pawling Avenue (NYS Route 66). From the intersection of Wynantskill Way and Campbell Avenue, just east of the intersection of Campbell Avenue and Spring Avenue, take Wynantskill Way to its end and continue straight ahead past the metal gate to the parking area next to the Capital Roots community garden.


John B. Staalesen Vanderheyden Preserve at a glance

  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Description: Bordered by the Wynants Kill and a beaver marsh, the Staalesen Preserve is one of the last remaining undeveloped tracts of natural area and wildlife habitat in Troy, and includes a Capital Roots Community Garden.
  • Activities: Walking, birding, dog walking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, nature study.
  • Trails: Yes
  • Handicap Accessible: Only in the immediate parking area. The dirt trails may be wet and uneven and are not safe for wheelchairs or other mobility assistance devices.
  • Location: Two entrances in Troy: Wynantskill Way and the Albia Entrance off Willard Street
  • Acres: 24