History of the Land
The property, originally a part of the Manor Rensselaerwyck, was a game farm until 1976 when it was purchased by the New School University. In 2004, it was sold to the Rigpa Center for Wisdom and Compassion, also known as the Tenzin Gyatso Institute. Reminders of the institute’s Buddist culture can be still be found on the property. In 2015, the Town of Berne purchased the property and opened it as a public nature preserve.
A New Place to Explore
Many of the landscapes we protect with conservation easements are private property without public access. But, Switzkill Farm is one of the unique exceptions! The property has well-maintained trails and the public is welcome year-round. Although you’ll get a sense of being in a remote location, the farm is not too far off the beaten path. To get there, enter “165 Game Farm Road, Berne, NY“ into your GPS. This will take you to Game Farm Road where you will be greeted by the Switzkill Farm sign. Drive up the steep road (you may need 4-wheel drive during the winter months) and you will know you have arrived when you come to the former game farm barns. A map and sign-in box are located on the barn with parking at the end of the barns.
Switzkill Farm is open from dawn to dusk. If you’d like to experience their amazing night sky, you will need to obtain a permit. As with any preserve, be sure to dress appropriately for the weather. Maps and other information are available on the Town of Berne website to help you prepare for the trip.
You can also make a day of it and explore Cole Hill State Forest that is located next to Switzkill Farm. (Note: There are no connecting trails between the two properties.) You can learn more about Cole Hill State Forest’s trail system here.
Sarah Walsh, Conservation Director