Owned by the Nature Conservancy since 1970, Christman Sanctuary is a beautiful site that offers an easy hike through a plantation of cedars, spruces, and pines. A highlight of these 97 acres located off the beaten path near Duanesburg, NY is the Bozenkill, with its 30-foot waterfall and numerous smaller cataracts. This preserve is a sight to behold in winter and should you be agile enough, you might even get a chance to venture behind its frozen walls. I explored the place back in January 2010 and more recently in early 2012.
More photos below. Click on any of the thumbnails to open a larger view, or check the full-screen Flickr slideshow if you have Flash installed.
There are two main trails and two side trails at the site. From the parking area (see map at the end), the blue trail follows a one-mile loop, with a short side trail leading to a memorial stone for Will Christman and his wife. Though the woods, another side trail leads to a touching plaque down a dozen steps hidden between two large rocks.
If your balance isn’t that reliable — that would be me — be very careful walking down these icy steps to the base of the 30 foot waterfall (photo above). Go for safety, not for style. There is a lean-to straight ahead that would certainly make for a nice picnic location in summer. That would be the best season to spot the alternate layers of sandstone and shale found in the large pool at the foot of the waterfall.
If estimating your own weight isn’t your best attribute either — again, me — do not take your chance on the ice hoping for it to support your last trip to Five Guys. It won’t and you might end up sacrificing a sizable chunk of dignity to save your camera — a small price to pay, if you ask me. In the cold of winter you should be able to reach the waterfall and peak behind its wall (photo above). Small children can easily stand in there but crawling is always an option.
Across the Bozenkill, and looping off the blue trail is the orange trail where a series of Will Christman’s plantations are found. As far as I know the orange trail can only be reached when the creek is low enough. Don’t bother with a mule, pets — that would include dogs — are not allowed in the preserve, though a lot of people seem to ignore the warning.
The Sanctuary had its beginning during the Blizzard of March 1888 when W.W. Christman and his wife began a winter bird feeding program. The Nature Conservancy acquired the land from Lansing and Lucille Christman, son and daughter-in-law of late W.W. Christman, 40 years ago. This plaque above is dedicated to Doris Saunders Plant. Her husband Henri Plant, of Scotia, received the David Van Wie Stewardship Award a few years ago for the generous time and resources he had given to the sanctuary since 1954.
The site is a Registered National Historic Landmark listed by the New York State Historic Trust as the Christman Bird and Wild Life Sanctuary. Christman devoted his lifetime to farming, nature writing, poetry and converting his farm to a nature sanctuary. He was recognized for nature poetry and essays, receiving the John Burroughs Memorial Association award for his book “Wild Pasture Pine” in 1934 (source: Howard C. Ohlhous via Archiplanet and the Historical Marker Database ).
Emo pacifier is emo.
This looks like a great place for snowshoeing too. The hike itself is kids-friendly, the only tricky part is going down the steps to the waterfall side trail, make sure they hold on to the cable and you hold on to them. Now who’s holding on to you? Bundle up, it gets cold in the woods, but the waterfalls are worth this easy walk. The capital district? Still got it.
From Albany, take US 20 (Western Ave) West toward Duanesburg, then take a left onto the Schoharie Turnpike (also County Route 74), or 90 west to exit 25A and take I88 west. On I88 take exit 24, cross over the highway, and take 20 east to make a right onto the Schoharie Turnpike. The parking area is on the left at the top of the hill just after crossing the railroad (see map below or get more details at The Nature Conservancy, LocalHikes, or Examiner.com).
It is quite difficult to get proper sunlight on the waterfalls, but this feat was accomplished back in 2010 in this spectacular shot by CM Murray (with permission):