The Cassadaga Lakes Nature Park protects 1,100 feet of Cassadaga Lakes’ shoreline. The site includes 26 acres of high ecological value lake front wetlands as well as 51 acres of rolling forest covered terrain that is mostly hemlock and white pine, which is ideal habitat for all kinds of birds, frogs, salamanders, snakes and waterfowl. The site effectively filters 1,800 acres of farm and field runoff on its way through to the lakes.
Size: 77 acres
Year Conserved by CWC: 2020
Location and Parking: Located on the south shore of the upper Cassadaga Lakes basin in Chautauqua County, the preserve can be easily accessed off the unmarked spur road across from the south end of Ulrich park road. Signs indicate the beginning of the park just past the last home on the “old route 60 road”. Parking accommodates at least six normal vehicles.
Recreational Use: There are currently two moderately developed trails – an easy loop (0.8 miles) and a center loop (1.8 miles) that overlap each other near the parking area but then separate to provide a shorter, flatter trail on the easy loop and a longer more rolling terrain hike on the center loop. Easy loop trails are marked with orange markers and center loop trails are marked with blue markers. When completed, the park will have a bird-blind location on the edge of Mud Lake (orange trail markers) and a welcome kiosk pavilion near the parking area. No other facilities or amenities are provided on site. There is no easy access for fishing from the site as most of the shore is dominated by emergent swamp that impenetrable on foot or by boat. Birdwatching, botanizing and nature walking are all common uses for the trails and forests.
Conservation Values: This preserve protects approximately 1,100 feet of naturally vegetated lakeshore. Trees and emergent vegetation along the lake offer natural bank protection and stabilization. Water is filtered as it passes through wetland plant communities en route to Cassadaga Lakes.
Features of Interest: The preserve is bordered on the west by Upper Cassadaga Lake. The land is currently undeveloped and forested, with a “beaver pond” at the back of the center loop trail. Seasonal pools along the trail host frogs and salamanders and the park includes a view out across a small glacial kettle lake called Mudlake.
Species of Interest:
Trees: Red Maple (Acer Rubrum), Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), Yellow Birch (Betula allegheniensis), White pine (Pinus strobus), Hemlock (Conium maculatum)
Understory: eastern skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus), ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris), royal fern (Osmunda regalis)
Shrubs: Spice bush (Lindera benzoin), Witch hazel (Hamemelis virginiana)
Wildflowers: marsh marigold (Caltha palustris), purple trillium (Trillium erectum), jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), trout lily (Erythronium americanum), false hellebore (Veratrum viride), Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora)
Birds: common loon (Gavia immer), belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon), hairy woodpecker (Picoides villosus), Screech owl (Megascops asio)
Amphibians: red backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus)