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Otter Creek Preserve: a natural bridge between the Adirondacks and Canada's Algonquin Park

Julia Botero
WRVO news
The trail at Otter Creek Preserve passes along Otter Creek, right off Route 12.

Trees in the North Country are clinging to the last of their leaves. In Alexandria Bay, you can take a walk to admire what remains of fall foliage at Otter Creek Preserve. The trail is now open to the public for the first time. It snakes through more than a hundred acres of woods, wetlands, shrub and grasses.

“We’re actually in a really interesting place right now. It’s called the "pinch point" but it’s also the center of the Frontenac Arch," said Sarah Walsh, as she pointed to a piece of granite, part of the ancient backbone of eastern North America.

Here, the geology of the Thousand Islands connects Canada’s Algonquin Park to the Adirondacks. 

“You feel like you’re in the Adirondacks when you are standing here and that is because the geology brings the same kind of soil. And it serves as an important place so animals can move from the Algonquin Park to the Adirondack Park,” Walsh said.

Credit Julia Botero / WRVO News
Close to 50 people of all ages toured the new Otter Creek Trail for the first time.

Walsh is with the Thousand Islands Land Trust (TILT). She said bobcats, moose, and wolves could pass through this connection of forests.

The TILT started acquiring bits and pieces of this land in 1999. They want to make sure it remains habitat for wildlife and threatened migratory birds, like golden-winged warblers, who spend their winters in the tropics.

“They avoid being hit by cars, running into windows, being eaten by birds, all those things that can ruin a tiny bird’s life. They make it up here and they rely on these amazing trees so they can feed, but also so they can nest,” Walsh said.

The TILT has worked to welcome people onto these large swatches of protected land in the Thousand Islands. Trails wind through a big preserve on Grindstone Island. The MacSherry Trail, just a few miles east, is a popular three-mile hike. The path at Otter Creek, will stay open through winter for skiing and snowshoeing.

“Right now we’re on the Bridge Trail. We’re going to wind our way down and we’re going to head past the old barn site,” Walsh said as the crowd ambled along.

Orange, red, and yellow leaves speckled the gravel in front of us. Retired couples walked hand in hand, a family pushed their newborn in a stroller, a man walked with his golden retriever, and a pair of toddlers zigzagged ahead. We walked down a small hill and ended up next to Lynch Creek.

Credit Julia Botero / WRVO News
The Otter Creek Preserve features a suspension bridge over Lynch River.

When we came to the suspension bridge that spans Lynch Creek, we stopped. The bridge is so new its wood looked fresh from the lumberyard. We were the first group to cross. The bridge swayed ever so slightly as we walked carefully in single file.

Back on solid ground, Nancy Chase used a big walking stick to steady herself.

“It’s a perfect day for hiking here. It’s beautiful. Blue skies, fresh air, birds. I like to try out all the new trails around here,” Chase said.

As we got to know the Otter Creek trail, Walsh pointed out anything that caught her eyes and ears. At one point, we all looked up just in time to spot a warbler fluttering from tree to tree.

To get to the trailhead turn south at the intersection of Rt. 12 and Rt. 26, away from the Village of Alex Bay. The drive into the trailhead is .4 miles from the intersection, on the right side.