The Great Right Here: Dedication of the Burden Preserve

Photos by Ann Goodman Weinstein; see more photos and map of Burden inside
October 17, 2008
by Susan Carpenter

Over a decade ago, the town of New Castle identified the property now known as the Burden Preserve as an important open space resource. At that time the town began an effort to acquire it from the estate of Margret Burden, and was finally successful in that quest in 2003. The property once belonged to William Burden, the ambassador to Belgium under Dwight Eisenhower. The Burden family owned 230 acres along Route 128, and the preserve consists of 124 acres of that land. This Saturday, October 18, at 10:00 a.m. the preserve will be officially opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony followed by short guided hikes until noon.


Over the last four years, under the direction of New Castle’s environmental coordinator, Steve Coleman, students on summer vacation have worked at constructing trails on the preserve, which can be seen on the map at the kiosk at the park’s entrance. (For directions to Burden, see below, “How to Get There,” all the way down on the page.)

Hiking the new trails at the Burden Preserve

The main entrance to the preserve is from a new parking area on Sheather Road just off Route 128. The trail is at the edge of the parking lot and you can chose to walk along the edge of the wetland, over streams, past a large pond and finally to the top of a big sandy hill, with great views to the southeast, or you can veer to the right and see an old carriage road on a bridge coming across a deep ravine. Trees now grow out of the center of the bridge, but the beautiful arched structure still stands. This trail then goes along the top of a hill just below Harriman Road finally connecting to the lower trail. 

If you happen to live in the Daley Cross area, there is a trail leading from Route 128 across from Horseshoe Road. That trail goes past an old stone foundation and up to the top of the hill along the edge of an old farm road running between two stone walls.

Hikers share preserve with both rare and common species

The preserve provides habitat for reptiles, amphibians and birds that are becoming very rare in Westchester County because of development. We have found evidence of Box turtles, which nest in the big sandy hill area, Spotted turtles which live in the swamp along the road, Four Toed Salamanders in the wet woods not far from the ponds and Barred Owls and Red Tailed Hawks in the larger trees along the edge of the wetlands. Many more common species, such as garter snakes and song birds, are very much in evidence throughout the summer.

In addition to preserving a great habitat for wildlife and hikers, the preserve’s long wetland system along Route128 helps preserve the quality of water from this watershed, which ultimately flows into the Croton Reservoir. The wetland system also helps reduce the rate at which storm water flows from the watershed into the Kisco River, reducing the potential for flooding in the case of a major storm event.

Because of the town of New Castle’s forethought in acquiring this property for open space, the shallow soils along the hillside from Harriman Road to the wetland will forever be protected from disturbance. What is now only moderately mature second growth forest will mature and great trees will emerge to dominate the site, and the wildlife that has managed to persevere on this site will have a permanent home. People who love the woods will find surprising diversity and solitude in this preserve just outside the bustling village of Mt. Kisco.

Susan Carpenter has lived in New Castle for 22 years and has served on the Open Space Advisory Committee, the Conservation Board, and currently sits on the Planning Board. 

Editor’s note:  In answer to our question to Ann Goodman Weinstein, “The photos are gorgeous, how do you do it!?!?,” she wrote, “We’ve lived here since 1995.  I’m an amateur photographer inspired by nature.  I was always interested in photography but never had a chance to pursue it.  Like many parents, when my first child was born taking photos became really important.  My husband bought me my first SLR and it opened up a whole new world for me.”
How to get there?  See below.


How to Get There

If you know how to get to 128 from Taylor Road, it does work, but the best known landmark from which to start might be Mrs. Green’s, which sits at the beginning of Armonk Road (or Route 128).  Turn right out of Mrs. Green’s parking lot.  On your right, pass Fairway Drive, Meadowbrook Lane, Horseshoe Road (remember, across 128 from Horseshoe you can enter the trails, but official parking is provided farther south, at Sheather), Daly Cross Road, then Taylor Road.  After you pass Taylor, the first left is Sheather.  Turn onto Sheather and you’ll see Burden Preserve and find plenty of parking.

Other “The Great Right Here” articles:

The Great Right Here: Opening of Sunny Ridge Park, 4/11/08, by David Swope

Come walk the trails of Sunny Ridge Park, New Castle’s new nature preserve, 4/4/08 by Susan Carpenter

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