Want to see an Eastern box turtle crossing the road? Get yourself to Eugene and Agnes Meyer Preserve in North Castle [and New Castle!], Westchester, I promise you’ll see a whole lot more as well.
[Directions from Nature.org: I-684 to exit 4; west on Route 172 toward Mt. Kisco. After 0.3 miles, turn left onto Chestnut Ridge Road and follow it to its end. Turn right onto Route 22. Take the first right onto Baldwin Road; proceed 0.3 miles. Turn left onto Byram Lake Road and follow it for 0.9 miles. Turn right onto Oregon Road. The preserve is just ahead on the right. Park in the designated area.]
This park is split into two parcels, East and West, which are connected by a walking trail totaling over 6 miles. The two are distinctly different, and we started in the East. There are no trail maps posted in the park, so make sure to look closely online [http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/newyork/places-preserves/easternnewyork/barberville-1-1-1-1-1-1.pdf]! There are multiple colors to follow and we decided to do a perimeter walk to catch the most sights. No sooner did we park, bug spray up, and set foot on the trails did we see the box turtle! It was just slowly strolling along and stopped for us to observe it.
The exquisite orange markings and deep red eyes on this turtle dazzled us. After some time we both went on our own way. We headed uphill a bit through the forest and spotted partial views of the not so distant Byram Lake Reservoir.
We loved seeing our first pink lady slipper of the season, so bright and shocking amongst the green.
Canada mayflowers were in abundance here speckling the sides of the trails as we headed out of the woods in and into the wetlands.
We followed a stream for some time listening to the frogs and eventually came out to the walking path. This path follows some telephone poles and connects the two parcels. The West side boasts trails around a large beautiful meadow.
Here many wildflowers are amuck such as wild geraniums.
We saw a chunky spiky caterpillar here, and we were slathered in sunshine after much time spent in the woods.
To get back to our original parking are we had to walk the same trail again, and re-enter the woods on the yellow trail and stay right. However we didn’t have a map in front of us, so we ended up taking the walking trail out the to road and walking back about ten minutes to the lot that way. Lovely houses along the way, and wild columbines to keep us occupied!
This is a really stunning preserve with varied habitats, tons of wildlife, and not a single other human. It is well worth a visit, but make sure to print/memorize a trail map!