Over 450 acres comprised of forest, wetlands and fields makes up the Five Rivers Environmental Education Center in Delmar, New York. The center is a vast area with over 10 miles of trails and home to 225 species of wildlife. It is full of flora and fauna, and most of all, beautiful scenery.
Opened in 1972 as Five Rivers Environmental Education Center, it had originally opened in 1933 as the Delmar Experimental Game Farm, which was used to study waterfowl and bird species following a sharp decline in their numbers. The fences you see along the road on the upper section surrounded the area where over 100,000 grouse and pheasant chicks were hatched each year.
In 1970, the game farm and zoo were closed following a reorganization at the Department of Environmental Conservation. This prompted action by a group of citizens who convinced the state to reopen the area as an environmental education center. It was named after the five rivers that comprise the watershed within the center’s service area; the Hudson, Mohawk, Sacandaga and Hoosic Rivers, and the Schoharie Creek.
The present-day center contains a newly-constructed visitor center where one can participate in classes, get up close with animals and watch birds at their feeders through a large window.
There are a number of covered pavilions and picnic tables throughout the trails for parties or hikers wanting to take a break and relax. Stands for bird watching are also available at two of the large fields where one can observe bluebirds, blue jays, cardinals, hawks and many more bird species.
Two large ponds and a number of smaller ones are home to geese, ducks, beavers, turtles and fish, and heron and are often visited by the many deer and rabbits you’ll see along the way.
The eight trails are mostly level, well-marked and easily-navigated and all are interconnected for a seamless adventure. As noted on their website, all amenities of the visitor center, picnic area, Woodlot Trail and Nature's Backyard Trail are wheelchair accessible, as are several hard-surfaced interior routes. In the winter, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are available on the trails.
With such a large area and much to do and see, plan for a full day of hiking and exploration.