Town of New Scotland
Two miles of trails over mixed terrain
Winifred Matthews Holt Preserve is a 148-acre property on the western face of Copeland Hill in the Town of New Scotland. The preserve is visible from Route 32 and from neighboring hills. The preserve rises at the edge of the flat area known as Indian Fields. Dr. William Holt and Winifred Matthews Holt donated this hillside to the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy in 1994.
Please note: The main entrance to Holt Preserve is on Upper Copeland Hill Rd. Some GPS services will direct you to the Lower Copeland Hill Rd entrance; unless specifically mentioned elsewhere, all MHLC events at Holt Preserve will meet and begin at the Upper Copeland Hill Rd entrance.
From Route 32 in the Town of New Scotland turn east (left if you are coming from Albany) onto Route 301 (Cedar Grove Road). At about 2.4 miles, turn right onto Route 108 (Copeland Hill Road).
At the top of the hill (about 1 mile) turn right onto Appleby Road. Keep left at the Y and proceed to where the gravel road comes to a loop. Approaching the loop on the right, you’ll see a narrower road that leads into the forest on the right (see photo), it is about 0.5 miles to the preserve entrance and parking area. (On Google maps, this narrow road is depicted as a dashed line, but you can drive on this road.) Do not drive past the parking area; at that point, the road is impassible by motor vehicles.
The softwood plantations and mixed hardwood forests, small clearings, pond, meandering stream, wetland, and seasonal rivulets that flow from seeps in the hillside into the underlying Onondaga limestone provide an exciting amount of diversity (see the Bennett Hill Preserve page for a description of the geology). From the bottom of the deepest ravine, along the terraces and to the summit of the hill, the varied ecosystems of this hillside are protected for the people of the area.
The parking area and trailhead provide access to hiking paths in the pond area and softwood plantations (820-970′ above sea level). Here there are isolated apple and pear trees, flowering dogwood, and small areas with pitch pine and scrub oak (reminders of the Albany Pine Bush).
Along these trails, the most biological diversity seems to be in the pond area, a common occurrence when land is disturbed. Trails in the mixed hardwood areas lead to several views of the Helderberg Escarpment and surrounding land. Elevation at the highest point on one of the several plateaus is 1072′. Trail maps are available at the sign-in box.
The Preserve contains remnants of dwellings and it is believed that the land was once used as sheep pasture. Dr. Holt reforested open areas with 23,000 pine (red, Austrian, scotch, white), white spruce, douglas fir, and larch, and he managed these plantations for wildlife habitat. To increase the land’s value for wildlife, the Holts built the pond, which is probably fed by a spring. The plantations are reaching maturity. The area around the pond will be kept clear to maintain the integrity of the dam and spillway.