Snook Falls and Orra Phelps Nature Preserve, Wilton NY
Story and visuals by Lawrence White ©4/2020
The Doctor Orra Phelps Nature Preserve is located in Wilton. It sits on 18 acres with a little over 1.5 miles of lovely walking trails that lead to a beautiful and serene part of the Little Snook Kill Stream.
The Preserve was where Dr. Phelps enjoyed the meditation of nature while she endeavored to preserve rare plant species of New York State.
To find out more about the remarkable life of Dr. Phelps, click here.
The parking area is quite small and only allows for 5 or six cars. When the lot is full, visitors are encouraged to go to other hiking areas. The trails are a refreshing delight. They are well maintained and wind through groves of hemlocks, white pines, poplars, and even red oaks. Much of the hiking is on trails right next to the various water sources which unite at one point as they wind their way to eventually flowing into the mighty Hudson River.
On the other hand, I do not advise anyone, even the most physically fit, to visit Snook Falls. The climb down to the falls is quite treacherous, even if the ropes tied to the trees on the steep path down are in place. However, the views of the falls are spectacular for anyone audacious enough to attempt it. It is possible to view the falls by looking down from the side of the road but that presents some dangers of its own.
This preserve is open to the public for nature study, walking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Please Bring a bag for your trash and any other you may find. Of course, dogs must be leashed and under control at all times; please clean up after your pet.
The following activities are NOT permitted on the preserve:
• Cutting, digging, removing, or damaging any tree, shrub, flower, or plant;
• Hunting, trapping, removing, harassing, touching or feeding wildlife;
• Use of firearms, paintball devices, or artificial light;
• Bicycles, horses, or motorized vehicles, snowmobiles, ATVs, etc.;
• alcohol or illegal substances; and
• Camping or igniting fires.
Directions to Orra Phelps Nature Preserve:
Take the Northway (I-87) to Exit 16. Turn west (left if coming from the south, right if coming from the north) on Ballard road. After 2 miles, cross Route 9, then turn south (left) on Parkhurst Road. Go one more mile to the preserve parking lot on the left. The trailhead is just beyond the public parking lot.
Directions to Snook Falls.
Take the Northway (I-87) to Exit 16. Turn west (left if coming from the south, right if coming from the north) on Ballard road. After 2 miles, cross Route 9, then turn south (left) on Parkhurst Road. Turn right on Greenfield Road (36) to Stakos Road. Park there. The trailhead to the falls is downhill on the road from the river
The 3 1/2 minute video below will give you an idea of the preserve and waterfall.