Clark Reservation

Last Friday before our big event (that I’ll blog about later), Dad and I visited several locations in Onondaga Co. looking for beautiful leaf color (which we didn’t find as intense as we had hoped). We stopped at Clark Reservation in Jamesville, NY, one of my favorite places to visit for several reasons (I’ll explain why in a minute).

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Clark Reservation got its name when in 1915 the daughter of former Gov. Myron H. Clark transferred to the State of NY 75 acres of land, which was thereby called Clark Reservation. This same daughter Clark married a banker and is the lady who lived at and created Sonnenberg Gardens in Canandaigua.

Clark Reservation is evidence of glacial activity that once covered this region. The lake is known as a plunge pool. During glacial times there was a falls 469 feet deep which has been likened to the American side of Niagara Falls. Pretty intense, huh? So imagine if the American side of Niagara Falls dried up – what would be underneath? Well, here is what was left from this falls – this is a very small part of what we walked across:

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Here’s a small view beyond the fence to the edge of the falls:

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Between the rocks ferns take the opportunity to grow:

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Here’s a photo of Maidenhair Spleenwort I took on May 22, 2005. I love this little fern!
22May2005 038 Maidenhair_Spleenwort-Asplenium_trichomanes

Here’s another photo from May 2005 looking back at the rocks the falls fell over – this hike is not for the weak or faint of heart – you really have to stretch your legs to make it up and down and over these rocks:
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This area is also one of the most diverse areas of natural plant life – including the rare fern Hartstongue (which I have yet to find – I’m still searching). Here’s a Wild Columbine:

22May2005 065 Wild_Columbine-Aquilegia_canadensis

On May 28, 2005, I walked down to the plunge pool itself, along the area shown in the first photo above. This is one of the many spectacular views down (this was more towards the top):

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I arrived at the bottom after recording several bird calls and taking several photos of various plants. Here’s a view into the lake – there was a fish that I was trying to photograph – he was too quick for me, but this shows the water is clear:

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Walking along the bottom of where the falls fell is not an easy hike, to say the least. We had to climb over boulders, tree roots, etc. all with the soil being muddy. I didn’t really capture a great photo of any of these boulders – obviously I’ll have to go back, but here’s a cool photo:

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At the end of walking half-way around the lake, we had to climb a huge set of stairs made out of rock. Sorry no photo – I will be going back! For now, here’s what I found last week on the staircases – an old one on the left, part of the one I climbed on the right:

13Oct2006-Syr 006In the nature center they have a description and relief map of this area:

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Here’s the map:

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You’ll see and hear more about this area at another time! I posted some newspaper articles with old photos about Clark Reservation when I was investigating it. Between the intense geology of the location, the vast variety of plant and wild life, the hiking challenge, and the fact that not very many people come here, this is on the list of my favorite places.

9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lynne
    Oct 17, 2006 @ 13:25:21

    WOW!! Those photos are beautiful! I too am crazy about ferns. Do you know of any good field guides? I’m looking foreward to hearing and seeing more about this place. (you must have sturdy shoes and strong legs!!)


  2. Pam
    Oct 17, 2006 @ 14:01:26

    Thanks Lynne! I added an entry about my favorite fern field guides for you. Yes, I have sturdy hiking shoes (they took forever to find) and I do strength training / cardio so I can hike.


  3. Susan Gets Native
    Oct 17, 2006 @ 20:38:30

    Oh. My. God.

    And Wow. And Jeez. And boy howdy.
    Okay, I am coming to live with you so I can visit Clark Reservation.

    I love ferns…that maidenhair spleenwort..thankfully I have no worts on my spleen, but it would come in handy if I did.
    Sorry…I’m tired and a little punchy.


  4. Laura
    Oct 17, 2006 @ 22:04:44

    Looks like a really beautiful place, but I don’t like walking on boulders (too clumsy!)

    I don’t know ferns at all, trying to learn trees.


  5. Pam
    Oct 18, 2006 @ 18:46:37

    Hi Susan! Come on over – we’ll have a great time hiking! LOL – no worts on your spleen – hee hee!
    Hi Laura! They have other beautiful wildflower and tree trails sans the boulders. I like the Winter Tree Finder for tree id. What’s your favorite id book?


  6. Lynn
    May 11, 2007 @ 08:51:24

    I grew up in the Jamesville area and these photos brought back some great memories. I remember the walk down to the pool.
    I’m in NJ now and will be visiting Syracuse this summer and will be taking in a trip to Clarks Res.
    So glad to see that it is still a great place.


  7. Trackback: The Most Gorgeous Fall « Nature Woman
  8. Trackback: Mildred Faust Woodland Trail at Clark Reservation State Park « Nature Woman
  9. Steve Daniels
    Nov 03, 2015 @ 18:56:01

    I’m pretty sure I saw those exact same Maidenhair Spleenworts last Sunday at Clark Reservation. They’re just off the Cliff Trail near the rim of one of the twin basins. Today, I found three different Hart’s Tongue localities at Clark Reservation. All were on the steep slopes of three different basins located off the Long Trail near Pulpit rock. One locality, which I’ve seen several time, was particularly large, with probably over a hundred specimens. I was actually looking for Goldie’s Fern and Glade Fern (which I didn’t find) and just got lucky finding the other two localities. There are none that I could spot in the twin basins near the Cliff Trail. I hope to one day find the Goldie’s and Glade Fern — they’re quite elusive — more so it seems than the Hart’s Tongue Fern.


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