Experience Southern Saratoga County at Vischer Ferry Nature & Historic Preserve
Vischer Ferry Nature & Historic Preserve, located in Clifton Park, is made up of over 700 acres of wetlands and floodplains along the Mohawk River. It's an excellent destination for hiking, picnicking, and learning about local history.
Visiting Vischer Ferry Preserve
The trail system is well maintained and features several interior trails that you'll want to hike. Keep in mind that this area is comprised of wetlands and floodplain, so if there's been a span of a few rainy days, you may want to wait until it dries up a bit.
During your walk, you will come across several historical markers that provide information about the area. Travel alongside the Erie Canal on the towpath trail, visit Historic Double Lock 19, and learn about the site of Forts Ferry, the first European settlement in Clifton Park, established in 1672. At the eastern end of the preserve is Clute's Dry Dock, built in 1852 on the site of a previous 1825 dry dock, where boats from the Erie Canal were repaired.
The 1869 Whipple Truss Bridge, pictured above, is one of only about five Whipple bowstring bridges left in the state, which were designed and patented by local civil engineer Squire Whipple in 1841. It's located near the main entrance at the intersection of Riverview Road and VanVranken Road.
Vischer Ferry Bird Conservation Area
The area has also been named a Bird Conservation Area (BCA) by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and an Important Bird Area (IBA) by Audubon.
More than 200 bird species have been observed at the preserve, especially wetland birds such as Virginia Rail, American Bittern, Least Bittern, Sora, and Green Heron, as well as Common Nighthawk and Rusty Blackbird. During migration season, you're also likely to spot various species of warbler, flycatcher, swallow, blackbird, egret, and heron.
One of the preserve's many nature trails is designated as a bird watching trail. The 1.5 mile loop begins and ends at the Whipple Bridge and takes birdwatchers past marshlands, wooded areas, the Erie Canal, and the Mohawk River.
How To Get To Vischer Ferry Nature Preserve
Take Exit 8 off the Northway (I-87) and drive west on Crescent Rd (Rte. 92) for 2.5 miles. Turn left onto Van Vranken Rd and continue until it ends at Riverview Road. Make a right onto Riverview Rd and you will see the main entrance on your left.
There are additional parking areas and entrances to the west at Ferry Drive and to the east along Riverview Road at Clute's Dry Dock. You can also park in the lot at Lock 7/Vischer Ferry Hydroelectric Dam and take the Towpath Trail for a scenic, approximately 2.5 mile hike or bike ride into the preserve.