Bearsville Music & Nature Trail
We invite you to come and visit the beautiful and recently-opened Bearsville Nature Trail, a wooded three-quarter mile trail from Overlook Drive that travels westwards to the banks of the Sawkill Creek, ending at Bearsville Park.
The trail was created by trailsman Dave Holden and the team at Bearsville, with the aim of celebrating and discovering the natural beauty of the undeveloped land surrounding the landmark Bearsville Theater. The trail is mostly woodland but also runs alongside a meadow that is officially certified as a Pollinator Pathway.
Specimen and forested trees include maple, oak and pine, plus magnificent mature sycamore. Signs of animals are everywhere, including the native black bears, white tailed deer, northeastern coyote, eastern turkeys and many small mammals. Plant life includes Jack-in-the pulpits, beebalm, milkweed and numerous native wild grasses, sedges and shrubs.
The biggest challenge to opening the trail was the need for a monumental clean up. The woods had been the dining room for black bear over decades. The bears had helped themselves to food scraps from restaurant dumpsters, scattering packaging and other leave-behinds, in the woods. Over time, plastic and glass debris built up.
With the growth spurt every spring, packaging and other trash was hidden by leaves and grown-into by bushes.
Under new ownership, the Bearsville Center has ensured that the dumpsters are now locked. But it took a massive clean-up with 12 intrepid volunteers in late April to bring the woods back to their natural state. Before the year’s spring growth materialized in the woods, over 75 garbage bags were filled and removed.
The trails are now clean, woodland benches are installed, and there are informative signs placed at many focal points, covering the natural history of the area.
There is ample car parking at Bearsville, and the trail can be accessed at the mid-point near the meadow.
The western end of the Trail emerges from the woods into the Music Walkway, featuring copies of LP’s and music made famous at Bearsville. Including albums by Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, The Band, Steely Dan, Jack De Jonette, Meatloaf and more.
MUSIC TRAILHEAD – Number 1
Here you will find a number of LP’s displayed on posts at the beginning of the trail, that tell the story of Bearsville Studios, Bearsville Records, and Bearsville Theater. At one point, Bearsville Studios was deemed to be one of the most important recording studios in the world. Its founder, Albert Grossman, set out to create a utopia where his artists could live, eat, sleep, create, perform and record some of the most well-known music from the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s. Albert is buried nearby at the end of his beloved Boce Ball court.
BRIDGE TRAILHEAD – Number 2
This part of the trail is typical to this region – rocky and rooty. You start out in thick sycamore forest and transition first to a darker mixed hardwood and pine forest. The trail turns to the left and brings you out into an official ‘Pollinator Pathway’ meadow, before going back into a mixed forest until the trail end at Overlook Drive. As you walk this trail you will be treated to much fauna and flora, including, but not limited to many wildflowers and the bees and butterflies that pollinate them, plus eastern turkeys, white-tail deer and all species of local and migrating birds.
CAR LOT TRAILHEAD – Number 3
We are repurposing our leach field as a Pollinator Pathway, part of a town-wide and national initiative to stop the decline of our native birds and insect pollinators. Find out more at woodstocknypollinatorpathway.org. The trail that goes through the meadow winds through plants that nurture insects and birds which, in turn, pollinate the plants. More information is available at the bench in the meadow. Even in the winter and early spring the sere grasses and dried stalks of the last years plants poking up from the snow is a study in the more subtle beauty that can also be found here.
OVERLOOK DRIVE TRAILHEAD – Number 4
This part of the trail is called Wolf-tree Woods. Most of the smaller and younger White Pine-trees you see around you in this location didn’t start branching out until many feet above the forest floor because they had to compete for sunlight as they raced for the sky. The larger, older pines started growing 75-100 years ago when your current wooded surroundings were open farm-fields and meadows where they could branch out as soon as they started growing. You can see other evidence around you of the former farming industry located here.