By MICHAEL CAMPANA
For Your Niskayuna
NISKAYUNA — The Lisha Kill nature preserve, off Rosendale Road, is a rare example of old forest in the Capital Region.
With eastern white pine and eastern hemlock trees believed to be over 200 years old, a beautiful creek and 140 acres of land to explore, the preserve is inviting to all lovers of nature, and even those who might just want to slip away from the grind of daily life for an hour or two.
There are three trails that cut through the preserve: Grattan Family Trail, Frank’s Trail and Paul’s Trail. The approximately 1.5-mile trip down the Grattan Family Trail is like traveling through a time-lapse photograph. Young brush turns into teenage trees, which evolve into those beautiful 200-year-old white pines. The air is moist, and in the depths of the old-growth forest, little is to be heard except the calm whirring of leaves amid the running waters in the distance.
Below the tall trees, the plant life in the preserve is very diverse, with many types of ferns as well as wild strawberry, fly honeysuckle and sarsaparilla.
No hunting or fishing is allowed in the preserve, and neither are pets, but there will often be packs of family dogs roaming the trails, owners in tow.
Many of the rounded, smooth rocks near the creek were placed by melting glaciers thousands of years ago. The beauty of the preserve is overshadowed only by its sense of timelessness. Everything is at a different stage in development. Some trees are growing, some reached maturity decades ago, and some plants are just beginning to peek from their roots.
The Lisha Kill Natural Area is owned by the Nature Conservancy, an environmental organization founded in 1951 that boasts over a million members and claims to have protected more than 119 million acres of land. The Conservancy is a stalwart on “best-of” lists involving charitable organizations, and is lauded for its trustworthiness, so the Lisha Kill rests easy in loving hands.
The hikes are generally fairly easy, with just a few steep hills and slippery spots providing the slightest bit of difficulty that the preserve has to offer. Experienced hikers will have no trouble, and beginners will see the preserve as a nice place to get their feet wet, both literally and figuratively.
Nature.org quotes the trails at taking about an hour and a half to walk.
The trails are closed to the public from late February until early May to prevent erosion from overuse.
The rest of the year, it remains a great place to take your family, friends or yourself for a nice evening away, while still being in the heart of the Capital Region.