The Albany Pine Bush Preserve nestled between Albany and Schenectady is one of just 20 inland pine barren environments in the world! It consists of over 3,000 acres of land, nearly 20 miles of multi-use trails, and is home to many plants and animals.
About the Albany Pine Bush Preserve
The Pine Bush was formed around 12,000 to 15,000 years ago after the drainage of a large glacial lake. Sand dunes came about from water being drained from the lake - this is part of what makes the pine barrens landscape so unique. Sand dunes are a truly unusual sight to see in Upstate New York!
Today, the Pine Bush consists of over 3,200 acres of protected land, with more land being added all the time. The Albany Pine Bush Commission works with local landowners and the public to lessen the impacts of development and fragmentation.
The Pine Bush is an official National Natural Landmark, New York State Unique Area, a Heritage Sight, a Bird Conservation Area, and a National Audubon Society Important Bird Area.
Trails & Recreational Opportunities
The Pine Bush has about 18 miles of multi-use trails for hiking, jogging, mountain biking, birding, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. The trails go through a variety of landscapes, including sandy areas, grass, and forest, although the land is mostly flat making the trails great for beginners. In addition, the Pine Bush is also sometimes used for horseback riding, hunting, and fishing.
Plant & Animal Life
The Pine Bush is home to more than 1,500 plant and animal species, including 45 Species of Greatest Conservation Need and more than 20 at-risk species. The Pine Bush is best known for its protection of the endangered Karner blue butterfly, which is making a significant comeback thanks in part to the efforts of staff and volunteers at the Pine Bush.
You might be able to see the following animals at the Pine Bush:
- White-tailed deer
- Cottontail rabbits
- Red and grey fox
- Eastern coyotes
- Eastern spadefoot toads
- Eastern hognose snakes
- Spotted turtles
- Over 90 species of birds
Notable plant life includes:
- Scrub oak
- Pitch pine
- Red oak
- Black oak
- Scarlet oak
- Dwarf chestnut oak
- Sand cherry
- Dune willow
The Pine Bush is a fire-dependent habitat, meaning it requires frequent controlled burns in order to maintain the ecosystem. These controlled burns typically happen every year, with a fire returning to a particular spot once every 5 to 20 years. How, where, and when these fires happen depend on weather and other conditions.
The Discover Center
Located at the Albany Pine Bush Preserve is The Discovery Center, also known as the Gateway to the Pine Bush! This indoor museum and learning center is open to the public year round and features interactive exhibits, activities, and more.