Hermitage Natural Area

Click on the map to enlarge. Photos by Bruce Burk

Click here for interactive google map of the trail. On your phone it can show your location via GPS.

Views of the trails, platform site, plank bridge, beaver activity area and panoramic view of future meadow.

This wildlife safety zone is set aside for hiking, photography and nature study.
Hunting, fishing, trapping, motor vehicles and discharging of firearms is not permitted.

Three trails have been laid out with blazes on the trees:
- Green: 0.3 mile wheelchair or stroller accessible. Easy
- Blue: 0.1 mile, a spur to a viewpoint over the marsh.
- Red: 0.8 mile, a natural trail through forest to the industrial track trail/bikeway and back.
This trail passes an area with evidence of lots of busy beavers.

The area is being developed in phases. In this first phase the trails have been laid out and cleared and a beginning made in removing invasive plants. In the next phase observation areas will be created and plans for landscaping developed.

This area is named for "The Hermitage", a house built by Nicholas Van Dyke Jr. ("Senator Nicholas Van Dyke") in several stages between 1801 and 1818. According to the National Register nomination, it was a farm and summer retreat for his family, though it was less than half a mile from his other houses at 300 and 400 Delaware. The house was destroyed by fire February 17, 2007. More details are available in a 1991 paper by Christopher Schroeder, then a graduate student in history.

In recent years it was occupied by the Megginson family, including City Councilman Ted Megginson, and then by Buddy and Lena Deemer. Ted Megginson recalls the area by Rte 9 was a cow pasture, and the location of the tent when the circus with its elephants arrived at the nearby train station.

In an aerial photo taken in 1932, the 'green trail' starts near the site of the house, then descends around the apple orchard on the slope to the marsh. The 'red trail' now in a forest is over a former field where corn and other crops were grown in rotation. The field was still there in a 1945 aerial photo.

The Hermitage Natural Area is now home to a variety of wildlife from birds to beavers. It will be interesting to learn what species the bird watchers see in coming seasons.

The activity of beavers in an area near the Industrial Track trail is quite impressive. The busy beavers felled five or six large trees in a circle. The reason is not obvious. Since the trees were not near the water, it wasn't for building their lodges. The tops of the trees never reached the ground so it wasn't for the eating the tender leaves. Probably it was just for keeping their teeth sharp.

Progress reports

Natural playground ideas at Cheslen Preserve in Pennsylvania.