Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge
> The Alabama Swamps -- March 1998
"An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered.
An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered." — G.K. Chesterson
|Onondaga Nature Trail|
Thanks to El Nino, we enjoyed a beautiful warm hiking day on 3/7/98 in the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. This 10,000+ acre refuge was once entirely covered by Lake Tonawanda. Due to draining and filling of the lake since the last glacial period, the area now consists of swamps, marshlands, and wet meadows.There is much to see in this area, especially if you are a bird watcher. March and April are perfect times to see thousands of Canada geese and ducks as they stop in the area during their spring migration.
Our first hike, the Onondaga Nature Trail, was recommended in our guide book, Fifty Hikes in Western New York. This is a 2 mile loop through open swamps followed by forest. There is a very wide, well-maintained gravel trail through the swamp area.
The swamps are on either side of the trail.The land is almost completely flat, so the hiking is extremely easy. I wouldn't want to come in the summer, though, because the mosquitos run rampant.
My favorite thing about this hike was listening to the geese calling back and forth to each other across the trail. The cacophony they made was so loud that we couldn't hear ourselves talk to each other. Their squawks sounded like a hundred clowns squeaking rubber horn noses. My description doesn't do it justice, so you'll have to experience it for yourself!
After less than half of a mile, the trail scenery changed considerably as we entered a forest.
Next we drove around the refuge and came upon "Mallard Overlook" on Sour Springs Road. There were perhaps 500 geese and ducks in the water.
Across the road were public fishing areas. We saw several people birdwatching in canoes. We were very excited to spot an otter swimming around the edge, but the little guy disappeared when we came closer for a photo.
Our next short hike was in Swallow Hollow, off of Knowlton Road. An extremely long boardwalk was built so that people can walk through the swamps without getting their feet wet. We saw many people on the boardwalk this day, notably older adults walking with their grandchildren.
Both hunting and fishing are allowed at Iroquois.
Water Fowl hunting is controlled by a special permit system. Other
types of hunting, as well as fishing, on the refuge require only
a state license. Rules regulations, seasons, and maps showing open
area may be obtained by contacting the Refuge Manager.
Many visitors find enjoyment at Iroquois by participating in other wild-life-oriented recreational activities. The visitor center on Casey Road is open 8-4, Monday through Friday year-round (except for holidays) and is open on weekends during the spring and fall migration. The visitor center offers displays and information on waterfowl, mammals, management, and other facts of the Refuge.
Located On: Route 77, in Alabama NY.
Thanks to my husband Karl for generating a map of the region.
For more information about the Iroquois National Wildlife
Refuge, please contact the Refuge Manager at PO 517, Alabama, NY
Or check out GORP -- Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge