In 1996, John Durand, a long-time resident of North Salem, donated 9 acres of land to the North Salem Open Land Foundation. The land had been part of a tract that contains a historic house, once the property of St. James Church, but now privately owned, and is located at the base of an area known as Crow Hill on early town maps. The land was designated as proposed open space on the 1985 Master Plan for the Town of North Salem.
Most of the land is second growth forest which was cleared and farmed in the 18th and 19th centuries and then abandoned as western lands became available. The land was probably used for pasture as it had been divided by a network of stone walls. On the South Loop are the remains of a “dig and dump” drainage system. It was formed by a drag pan pulled by a mule. An overturned cast-iron caldron can still be seen, an indicator of maple syrup activity.
Stewards: Coughlin Family.
Warning! Poison Ivy (Rhus radicans - cashew family). You will see poison ivy just off the pathway or climbing on trees. It is important to be able to identify its three-leaf pattern and stay clear of it! All parts of the plant contain volatile oil that can cause severe skin inflammation. The fruit of the poison ivy is valuable winter forage for wildlife, and it is eaten by many songbirds and game birds with no harmful effects. Small mammals and deer browse on the poison ivy foliage, twigs and berries. Poison Ivy is commonly confused with other plants. Here are the key differences:
- center leaflet on a longer stalk
- white, waxy berries along the stem,
- leaves alternate on the stem
- erect shrub or climbing vine
The Durand Trail can be accessed directly behind the Ruth Keeler Memorial Library located on Titicus Road.
An unnamed brook bisects the land and several species of ferns grow near it. Some trees found on the hillsides are Shagbark Hickory, Hornbeam (Ironwood), Black Oak, White Oak, Black Walnut, Big-toothed Aspen, among others. The land is also rich in wild flowers and shrubs of all types.
Fox, deer, opossum and raccoon have been seen and many frogs, toads and salamanders make their homes here.
Please refer to the Durand Trail Guide for more a more in-depth discussion of the flora found in the preserve.Click here for the guide
Good walking shoes are recommended, as the trail can become quite muddy in rainy seasons.