Cranberry Lake Preserve is a 190 acre gem nestled in West Harrison. Since 1967 it has been a wildlife preserve for migrating birds, turtles, and dragonflies. There are several different habitat types including a large lake, cliffs, scrubland, mixed hardwood forest, swamp and vernal pools. Here is the trail map and the history trail map. The address is 1609 Old Orchard St, West Harrison, NY 10604 so you can get there.
Before we went, I had heard a lot about it through some moms I know that like to hike with their children and I had seen it pop up on a few lists of local places to hike. One day Rob and I decided we had nothing planned and we wanted to be outside. Rob has a crazy work schedule so the days that are nice, we have no plans and he isn't exhausted are few and far between. We didn't want to travel too far because we wanted to spend the majority of our time outside. Cranberry Lake Preserve fit the bill. We had no idea what to expect. Most parks in Westchester you have to pay to get in even if you have a Parks Pass, here you did not. It actually reminded me of places a little further north of here, where you can just park your car and go on the trail. There was a small lot with a bar going over the trail and a trail map. I suggest always taking a picture of the map even if you have the map pulled up on the internet. If you don't have the map saved you not only risk loosing service, but where you are. The best is obviously to carry a paper map, but they are not always available in the parking lot.
This was a very nice location with lots of trails. Most of them are fairly level. There were some long hills but it was nothing a small child couldn't do unassisted. There were large rock structures right off the paths and there was a trail around the lake. The highest elevation is 450 feet a the quarry which is where I said I really wanted to go. Getting up there was literally a rock scramble. For the most part my rule with Spencer is if he can't climb it himself, he can't do it. Well that went out the window here. Rob and I took turns trying to show him where to put his feet, lifting him up to the next spot and letting me climb up behind him or Rob just passing him to me. It was totally worth it when we got to the top. The views were amazing. It was definitely a little harrowing being up that high with a preschooler and sheer drops on either side. Rob had a firm hand on him the whole time, thank goodness, or else we would have been up there for two minutes.
We are definitely looking forward to going back! Don't forget to bring your bucket and encourage your little to pick things up along the way so you can talk about them after your walk.
Have you been to Cranberry Lake? What do you think? Please join our Facebook group and let us know. I would love to see pictures of your littles enjoying themselves in the woods!