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BEAVER DAM TRAIL
Level - Challenging
To experience a quiet walk in an undisturbed setting, far from the sounds of civilization, this is a trail to hike. About 2 miles long, this loop trail begins across Route 390 from a small parking area near Lizzy’s Bridge at the top of the mountain, about 2.5 miles north of Skytop Lodge (via Dutch Hill Road and 390). There are some rugged, rocky sections, but the trail is generally level. It ends on Route 390 again, but about a quarter mile south of Lizzy’s Bridge. There is a high diversity of natural communities along this trail: old Norway spruce plantations, hemlock stands, northern hardwood forest, mixed oak woods, red maple swamps, stream-side woodlands, blueberry thickets, rhododendron growths, beaver marshes, and open rock barrens covered with loose slabs of shale. As a result, the variety of wildlife is also wide, and signs of otter, red squirrel, porcupine, bobcat, beaver, mink, bear, deer, grouse, red and gray fox and coyote are often evident.
The forest floor along the Beaver Dam Trail is covered in some sections with those attractive, evergreen relatives of ferns known as club mosses. Resembling miniature pine or cedar trees, 5 different species of these “Christmas Pines” grow in colonies and should be left undisturbed. Among the many birds that nest in the diverse woodlands and wetlands are wood duck, broad-winged hawk, ruffed grouse, wild turkey, least flycatcher, wood pewee, yellow-bellied sapsucker, golden crowned kinglet, blue-gray gnatcatcher, red-breasted nuthatch, hermit thrush, yellow-throated vireo, yellow warbler, common yellow throat, American redstart, black-throated blue warbler, scarlet tanager, rose-breasted grosbeak, swamp sparrow, field sparrow and junco. The open marshes and old beaver meadows (evolved from lakes formed by beaver dams in the past) are among the best places to sit and observe birds.