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Hiking the Fox Parcel Trail

Updated on August 21, 2014

Wilton Wildlife Preserve Trail Series: Fox Parcel

Wilton Wildlife Preserve Trail Series: Fox Trail

In this fourth installment of my trail series in the Wilton Wildlife Preserve, I will introduce you to the Fox Trail, another favorite trail of mine. Although called the Fox Parcel, I have never seen a fox on this trail. I am of course teasing you because I’m pretty sure it is named after the former owners.

What I have seen are Karner Blue Butterflies, an endangered species here in upstate New York. Historically, there is an interesting story about their near disappearance and their resurgence.

Historic records indicate Karner blue butterflies were once found on this property. As woody vegetation took root and grew, it shaded out the butterfly’s host plant, the wild blue lupine. Eventually, the butterfly disappeared. Proposed for subdivision several times, a partnership of the Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park, The Nature Conservancy, and the Town of Wilton, along with a grant from the Saratoga County Open Space Protection Program, succeeded in protecting this 89-acre parcel in 2005. The Nature Conservancy owns the Fox parcel.

This parcel actually has three trails on it. The yellow trail is the main trail and the orange trail and red trail feed off of it. These trails are a combination of sandy uplands and pine barren vernal ponds, a designated rare community in New York State. Across the Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park, almost 130 acres of the sandy uplands have been restored to early successional habitat, which allows for the recolonization of the Karner blue butterfly.

For this hike, I took the yellow trail to the red trail, which now includes a new portion that extends the trail to two miles one way and connects the trail to Ruggles Road, which is home to the Neilmann Parcel Trail.

What I really like about this trail is the abundance of butterflies in the summer. Besides the Karners, I have seen Swallowtails,white cabbage butterflies, Monarchs and the common Sootywing. The Karners have two hatchings, one in late May, and one in middle July. They are so many of them, at times it seems like there are clouds of them and are quite beautiful.

On this particular hike I saw all the butterflies I mentioned and got a really nice close-up picture of a Swallowtail. It seemed like he was perched on that leaf forever just waiting to get his picture taken.

As mentioned above, there are several vernal ponds on the property and they are perfect for those hikers with dogs who want to cool off. The video I shot is of my dog Lucky having a grand old time digging up sticks and chasing bull frogs.

The trails are well-marked and consist of sand and forest floors. They are also fairly hilly, but none of the hills are too steep. Also scattered on the trails are several foot bridges that traverse seasonally muddy areas on the trails.

Although I have not seen as many animals on this trail as on others, I have seen a wide variety of birds, some chipmunks and squirrels and once caught a glimpse of a White Tail deer. The trails wander in and out of forested areas and fields and in late spring and early summer, the fields will be carpeted with Blue Lupine and Butterfly weed, both of which the Karner Butterfly depends on for food.

The forest areas have a lot of dead fall trees and stumps, and can be used as a source of education for children that are hiking with you. As these trails are fairly smooth, the Fox parcel is a good hike for kids.

Some of the animals and plant life that can be found on fallen logs include moss, lichen and an abundance of insects. Also, look for holes in the fallen trees, as well as still-standing trees, as they are a sure sign of woodpeckers, who favor these woods.

The only caution I have is the roots on the trails. Although they are not as abundant as on other trails, they still need to be looked out for, especially with kids.

All in all, the Fox Parcel Trail is a fairly easy, fun trail to walk, with the abundance of butterflies a sure hit. I highly recommend this trail.

My dog Lucky playing in one of the Vernal pools

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