The spring season is full underway, and those who love to enjoy the outdoors have plenty of upcoming opportunities to do so, thanks to the Pfeiffer Nature Center in Portville. The Pfeiffer Center has two properties located in rural, southwestern New York. The Lillibridge Property, the more well-known of the two properties, consists of 188 acres of forest and has a historical log chestnut cabin listed in the National & State Registers of Historic Places, as well as miles of open-access hiking trails, a pavilion and more.
The center is a privately-owned center founded in 1998 by Wendy Pfeiffer Lawrence, who donated the Lillibridge Property, located at the top of a mountain. The other property of the center is the Eshelman Property located on Yubadam Road. This 460 acre property included forests, wetlands, creeks, ponds and even a small farm.
Margaret Cherrie, executive director of the Pfeiffer Nature Center, said that a lot of visitors come from far and wide in the area to do an assortment of things. “While many of our visitors come to explore the independent hiking trails, we have some who will come to watch the sunset or even eat at the pavilion,” she said. “Mainly, our visitors just want to spend time outdoors in nature.”
The independent hiking trails are open to members and non-members from dusk to dawn. Cherrie said that there is interpretative signage located throughout the trail properties, since there is no visitor’s center located on the property. “This gives individual hikers a chance to learn about the area that they’re in without having to be told it,” she said.
In addition to the individual opportunities available for both members and non-members, the main draw of the Pfeiffer Center is the programs and activities offered there. Coming up on April 14th is a workshop on pruning trees, which is a hands-on workshop taking place at the home of the person leading the activity. At this exercise, participants will learn how to prune small trees, as well as all of the tools involved needed to do so. Another program done at the center is the “Snow Shoe Blitz,” run during the winter time for those participants who want to learn how to use snow shoes and go on a snow shoe hike. Anywhere between 50 and 80 people participate in this program.
Cherrie said the most popular program done at the center is the annual “Adopt a Tree” program. This particular program, which works with students in kindergarten through 5th grade, consists of two components: the first is explaining the mission of the nature center in the classroom while speaking about a specific topic, and the second being a field visit to the Lillibridge Road property to put in place what the students learned in the classroom, as well as getting a chance to visit the tree they’ve adopted as a school. The classroom visits take place from April through the beginning of May, and the field visits take place from the beginning of May through June. Over 1,000 children participate in this program in a single year. The “Adopt a Tree” program is unique in that it is designed to incorporate what is being taught in the New York and Pennsylvania school systems. Cherrie said that sponsors, which are a combination of businesses and individuals, are the reason this program continues to flourish year after year.
Another program coming up at the Pfeiffer Center is the center’s largest single event on June 2nd. The event is done in honor of “National Trails Day,” and is called the annual Wood Walk/Trail Run. The event has a variety of options for participants, depending on the fitness and interest level of the participant. They have the option of walking a 5K or a 10K, all on a mostly flat, guided nature walk. Those who like to run have option of doing either a 5K or 10K timed run off-road, all through the hills and mountains.
Another event coming up this summer is the “Salamander Walk” in August. Cherrie said this program is popular among children. “Last year, between 75 and 80 salamanders were found on the walk,” Cherrie said. “Children and parents love this one.”
Overall, Cherrie said that in addition to the regular visitors and the new visitors that keep the nature center steadily going, the programs are a big part of what draws people in. “People, both members and non-members, come because they have an interest in a certain topic and want to learn more about it,” she said. “This is why we have a variety of programs and activities available to people of all ages and backgrounds – to keep them interested in the outdoors.”
For more information on the Pfeiffer Nature Center and its programs, visit their website at www.pfeiffernaturecenter.org, or call the office Tuesday through Thursday at 716-933-0187.