The Pawling Nature Reserve is owned by the Nature Conservancy and maintained by local volunteers from Pawling and Dover that help with the management of the reserve. The Nature Conservancy and the Pawling Nature Reserve Committee are dedicated to preserving ecologically valuable land in its natural state. These lands are available to the public for enjoyment and nature study.
There are approximately 1000 acres in the reserve which is located in the towns of Pawling and Dover. Most of the forest is deciduous, with Hammersly Ridge [elevation1053 ft] running North/South. The Appalachian Trail crosses the property as it travels from Southwest to Northeast. Numerous color coded trails extend to all corners of the land, and most connect to the Appalachian Trail.
The main entrance is located on the Eastern border along Quaker Lake Road. This provides ready access to an impressive gorge, rimmed by a large stand of Hemlocks. Other habitats include: swamps, overgrown fields, wet meadows, fern glens and a bluebird house trail.
The reserve hosts a large population of deer, amphibians, reptiles, wild turkeys, and occasionally coyotes, bobcats and beavers. The deer herd and its effect on the vegetation has been the focus of several research studies. Because it lies at the foot of the Berkshire Mountains, the land provides nest sites for several species of birds usually found further north. Several rare plants such as Devil's Bit, inhabit the reserve land.
Local schools and colleges always have been encouraged to use the reserve for nature study and research. The reserve naturalist is Dr. James Utter, from S.U.N.Y. at Purchase. Throughout the year, he and invited naturalists host educational walks on such topics as bird banding, stream ecology, edible plants, spring wildflowers, ferns, night sounds, succession and deer management.
The reserve is open year round from dawn to dusk. To maintain the reserve in its natural condition, camping, motorized vehicles, bikes, pets, horses, fires, unauthorized hunting, trapping and the removal of wood, rocks, plants, and animals are strictly prohibited. We appreciate your cooperation.
This website is the official Pawling Nature Reserve online resource by the active volunteers. If you would like to submit photos or are interested in contributing to content, please email