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Best of the NCT in NY

Nelson Swamp
Unique Area

Hiking along this easy 1.6 mile section of the North Country Trail your mind might wander as you wonder what it must have been like to build a railroad through this "swampy" area.  Built many years ago and abandoned many years ago, we now enjoy this true wonder through Nelson Swamp Unique Area.

As you enjoy your walk along this section of the North Country National Scenic Trail, you see why we've given this section the distinction of being one of the best sections of the NCT in New York.  You may see deer in the fields.  You might get a glimpse of different species of birds.  Maybe see a turtle or even a beaver.

From the parking area off Constine Bridge Rd for Nelson Swamp Unique Area, walk past the kiosk and follow the old railroad bed around a gate.  At 0.1 miles the Nelson Swamp Nature Trail goes right.  The nature trail runs 0.5 miles and meets the North Country Trail at 0.3 miles on the right.  This creates a loop of one mile.

At 0.5 miles dross a stream on a culvert with large concrete blocks on each side of the trail.  There is also a trail register on the right.  This is a nice scenic spot for a break or lunch.  A great footbridge brings hikers over Chittenango Creek at 0.7 miles (see panorama above).  We noticed a beaver dam on the south side of the bridge the last time we hiked this on 12/7/2009. 

At 0.85 miles there is a stile that will bring you into private property.  Be sure to stay on the trail while on the private property.  Soon there is an electric fence on your left as you continue along the trail.  At 1.05 miles reach two gates.  Leave the gates as you found them.  If they are blocking the trail, you may open and pass through.  The land owner asks that you latch the gates behind you.  Cross a small creek on a bridge.

At 1.15 miles your entering state land once again.  Notice the old concrete fence posts on your left as you continue your hike.  At 1.35 miles the trail turns right off the old railroad bed.  The trail runs on the edge of a field, then briefly climbs a hill before steeply descending into the next field.  The trail again runs along the edge of the field before turning right to cross the field as you make your way to Hardscrabble Road (see panorama below).

You reach Hardscrabble Road at 1.6 miles and the end of this "Best Of New York" section of the North Country Trail.  Simply turn around and retrace your steps to return to the Nelson Swamp Unique Area trailhead.  There are pictures, a video, map and a detailed description of this hike below.

Directions:  From Cazenovia, take US 20 East to Stone Quarry Rd.  Turn right on Stone Quarry Rd and continue straight through 4-way stop sign (Abell Corners).  The road is now called Constine Bridge Rd.  Around the bend there is a small parking area on the left for the Link Trail/North Country Trail & Nelson Swamp Unique Area.

Stile along the North Country Trail

Mile Elevation Description (from the parking area)
0.0 1394 ft

Kiosk and parking off Constine Bridge Rd.  Head into Nelson Swamp following old railroad grade.

0.1 1394 ft

Junction on right of the Nelson Swamp Nature Trail.

0.3 1385 ft

Junction on right of the Nelson Swamp Nature Trail.

0.5 1378 ft

Trail Register.  Cross stream on culvert.

0.7 1378 ft

Cross Chittenango Creek on footbridge.  Soon cross over stile and enter PRIVATE PROPERTY.

0.85 1385 ft

Cross over stile and enter private property.

1.05 1410 ft

Pass by two gates.  Leave as gates as is.  Cross small creek on bridge.

1.15 1404 ft

Leave private property and re-enter Nelson Swamp Unique Area.

1.35 1415 ft

Trail veers right off old railroad grade.  Trail runs along edge of field.

1.6 1456 ft

Trail reaches Hardscrable Road.  To return simply retrace your steps.



North Country Trail in CNY

Link Trail

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