On the overlook between our Lily Pond and the Habitat Gardens, you will see a steep trail to the left of the main path. This is the entrance to the Ridge Trail, the first of three trails on the property that explore the Garden’s 30 acres of minimally-managed natural areas. The Ridge Trail travels along the top of an esker, or a steep deposit of gravel left behind by glacial meltwater. The soil on the esker is dry and acidic, making it the perfect habitat for plant species like white oak, white pine, and lowbush blueberry. This audio clip can accompany you on the trail.
The American chestnut was once the dominant forest canopy tree in many forests like this one throughout the United States. However, chestnut blight, a disease that kills mature trees, ravaged these forests in the early 20th century. As you walk along the trail, look for evidence of American chestnut trees. You may see stump sprouts, young chestnut trees growing from the root systems of trees that were killed by chestnut blight, decades ago.
On the top of the ridge, you might also see pink lady’s-slipper and wintergreen. As you make your way along the bottom of the ridge, notice how the vegetation changes. Here, you’ll find plants that require more moisture, like bloodroot, several species of ferns, and witch hazel.