Hiking is one of my favorite ways to spend my spare time – and I am always looking for new parks and nature preserves to explore.
That recently led me to Baltimore Woods.
Located in Marcellus, the preserve is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
“It was always set aside to be an educational space,” said Whitney Lash-Marshall, executive director of Baltimore Woods Nature Center. “That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to come to a program led by one of our staff members, but it’s meant to be a place where you experience nature firsthand and build your own personal connection to the natural world. The trails were designed to meander through the forests and fields, so you get those additional views and experiences and sounds. And that’s really what we’re all about; helping people connect to nature through whatever things spark their interest, from birdwatching to photography to botany and plants and all of those things in between.”
Today, Baltimore Woods is spread across 182 acres – and it added 90 more at the end of March. It is home to nine trails, varying in length from 0.2 miles to 1.4 miles. Some are flat and easy to walk (Lash-Marshall said they are located near the nature center), while others have more hills. As you make your way around the preserve, you can take in primary and secondary forests, fields, a creek, and a pond, depending on which trail you choose.
We decided to hike the Valley Trail. Soon, all I was surrounded by the sounds of birds chirping, water flowing, and the wind rustling the leaves. It instantly calmed me. The trail was easy to navigate (there are plenty of color-coded signs to point you in the right direction and a digital map is also available), and the scenery was beautiful.
And spring is a great time to visit.
“Plants are changing, flowers are changing,” said Lash-Marshall. “The Mildred Faust Wildflower Garden is one of the things that will really be in all its glory through April. You could come every Saturday for a hike and see different flowers blooming every week. It’s a beautiful space. Lots of birds coming back. We’re seeing new things at the feeders and along the trails every day. The stream and the pond are waking up as well, with insects and new footprints of creatures and the sounds of frogs and other things that have been hiding during the cold winter months of Syracuse.”
If You Go
Baltimore Woods Nature Center
Where: 4007 Bishop Hill Road, Marcellus.
When: The trails are open daily from dawn to dusk. The Interpretive Center is open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Admission: Free. Parking in both lots is also free.
More information: (315) 673-1350. baltimorewoods.org.