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General Pine Bush Information
The Albany Pine Bush is an inland pine barrens. This ecosystem is similar to coastal pine barrens found in New Jersey, Cape Cod and Long Island, but is different because it occurs inland.
There are less than 20 examples of this habitat in the world. This is one of the best that remains.
It was formed at the end of the last ice age—20,000 years ago. As a mile high glacier melted, a giant lake formed here (over 190 miles long!). Scientists refer to this lake as Glacial Lake Albany.
Glacial Lake Albany eventually drained and the sandy deposits on the lake floor (laid down by the ancient Mohawk River) were blown into sand dunes which were ultimately colonized by plants.
The Pine Bush once covered over 25,000 acres. Now there are only 6,000 acres remaining; 3,350 of which are protected by the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission.
This gently rolling sand plain is home to a variety of rare plants and animals, including the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly (size of a quarter).
The Pine Bush is home to more than 75 wildlife Species of Greatest Conservation Need. This includes birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. That’s amazing for such a small semi-urban preserve.
Mammals you might see: white tailed deer, eastern coyote, eastern chipmunk, red fox, fisher, eastern cottontail
Birds to look and listen for: great horned owl, wild turkey, woodpeckers, nuthatches, golden-crowned kinglet, eastern towhee
Reptiles & Amphibians that live here: eastern hognose snake, spotted turtle, eastern spadefoot toad, Jefferson salamander, smooth green snake
Invertebrates you may recognize: deer (a.k.a. black-legged) ticks, antlions, inland barrens buckmoth, monarch butterfly
Plants to looks for: pitch pine, dwarf chestnut oak, bear oak, New Jersey tea, sweet fern, dotted horse mint, goat’s rue, round-headed bush clover, showy tick trefoil, wild blue lupine, little bluestem, big bluestem, Indian grass
This dry, sandy area is a fire dependent ecosystem and needs periodic burning to survive. The Commission uses carefully set controlled burns to mimic the effects of natural wildfires that can no longer occur due to the development of the area.
In an emergency please call 911.
If you would like to report a rules violation or non-emergency problem, please call the NYSDEC dispatch center 1-877-457-5680. They can deal with any issue of any kind.
The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission
- The APBPC was created in 1988 by the NYS Legislature to protect and manage the inland pine barrens commonly known as the Albany Pine Bush, and provide the public with educational and recreational opportunities.
- The APBPC is not a state agency. It is a state Commission created in state law and is technically a public benefit corporation. The APBPC has its own budget and is governed by its own board of directors. The APBPC is subject to the operating and reporting requirements of the NYS Public Authorities Law.
- The APBPC board includes the leaders of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, City of Albany, Towns of Colonie and Guilderland, Albany County, The Nature Conservancy and four citizen representatives.
- The APBPC is a state entity that works cooperatively with its non-profit partner organization, Friends of the Pine Bush Community, Inc. to further preserve conservation and education.
- Funding for the APBPC comes mostly from the NYS Environmental Protection Fund. Other funding comes from endowment interest, public and private grants, private donations and mitigation from the Albany Landfill.
Albany Pine Bush Preserve staff are employed directly by the APBPC. Staff are not State employees.
- The Albany Pine Bush Preserve was created along with the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission (APBPC) in 1988. However, protection of Pine Bush began in the 1970’s.
- The preserve is not finished; it protects 3,350 acres toward an ultimate goal of 5,280 acres.
- Preserve lands are owned by the member organizations, i.e. the State of NY, the towns of Colonie and Guilderland, the City of Albany and The Nature Conservancy and managed by the APBPC as a single preserve.
- Additional privately-owned lands are protected by easement or other legal agreement and are not open for public access.
- Land is protected and added to the preserve by purchase (fee acquisition), donation or easements from willing owners.
- The Management Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Albany Pine Bush Preserve describes how the APBPC will accomplish its vision for a viable preserve, including land management, wildlife conservation, education, community engagement, recreation and land protection.
- The preserve has over 20 miles of official multiple use trails for passive non-motorized recreation. Uses include hiking, running, wildlife watching, mountain biking, horseback riding, hunting and fishing.
Ecosystem restoration and management in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve involves numerous methods. These include prescribed fire (controlled burns), tree removal, mowing and chemical treatments.
The Albany Pine Bush Preserve has its own rules and regulations which can be found here.
The preserve has about 20 miles of official multiple use trails for non-motorized recreation. Uses include hiking, running, bird or wildlife watching, mountain biking, horseback riding.
Hunting, trapping and fishing are traditional and legal activities in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. Hunting is an important wildlife management tool. Additional information can also be found here.
Hunting is a traditional and legal activity in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. Hunting is an important wildlife management tool. During your visit, you may encounter hunters on the trail.
Camping is not a permitted activity within the preserve.
Read all the Rules and Regulations here.
The Management Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Albany Pine Bush Preserve describes how the Commission will accomplish its vision for a viable preserve.
Read and download the plan.
Pets are permitted in the preserve provided they are restrained at all times by an adequate collar and leash and are under the direct and complete control of their owner. Pet owners must remove their pet’s droppings from the trails.
Various areas of the preserve will be temporarily closed throughout the year while activities such as prescribed burning, mowing or other management activities are occurring. For your safety, please obey all signage at trailheads or along trails and call ahead if there is a specific area you are coming to hike in.
The Discovery Center
- The DC is an interpretive center that introduces visitors to everything that makes the preserve rare and adventurous through interactive exhibits, the interpretive Discovery Trail, and numerous programs on the ecology, natural history and cultural history of the Pine Bush.
- The building itself is owned by the State of NY and the APBPC is responsible for its management and operation.
- Originally home to the SEFCU (State Employee Federal Credit Union) headquarters and an operating bank branch, the facility was converted into the DC with over 97% of demolition materials either re-used or recycled. The metamorphosis outdoor exhibit still has the original structure from the bank drive-thru.
- In a unique “land swap”, NYS acquired the former SEFCU facility to develop the DC in exchange for real estate on Patroon Creek Boulevard where SEFCU now maintains its headquarters and a separate bank branch.
- The DC facility is now a LEED Gold-certified "green" building. LEED is a certification by the U.S. Green Buildings Council, meaning “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.”
The DC first opened in June 2007.
Please bring your own refreshments to enjoy them outside, but not in the Discovery Center.
The Discovery Center is open Monday thru Friday, 9am–4pm and Saturday & Sunday and most holidays 10am–4pm. Admission is free.
Programs and Events
For most programs, an adult must accompany children under the age of 18. Exceptions to this will be specifically noted in the description.
If you need to cancel your registration you can call us or if you registered yourself online you can cancel your own registration on the website. If you know that you are running a few minutes late please give us a call to let us know. If you cancel your program registration we cannot refund your program fee.
We try not to cancel programs. We do cancel outdoor programs if there is thunder, and may cancel programs in general in cases of extreme weather or dangerous conditions. If we have to cancel a program we will call you to let you know. If you have paid ahead we can refund your program fee or transfer your registration to a different upcoming program.
Please remember to dress for the weather, wear sturdy walking shoes or if there is snow on the ground boots, and bring drinking water.
Bring a rain coat if there is rain in the forecast. If there is enough snow on the ground we will snowshoe. Snowshoes will be provided to program participants.
Due to the presence of ticks we recommend that you wear long, light colored pants and socks. Tucking your pants into your socks helps to keep the ticks on the outside of your clothing making them easier to spot and remove.
While leashed pets are permitted on marked trails, we ask that visitors not bring pets to our educational programs. Thank you.
Friends of the Pine Bush Community
As a nonprofit organization, the Friends is eligible to apply for grants from a range of foundations and corporate funds to pay for educational equipment, research projects, exhibits and special projects.
Friends funds support:
• Ticket to Ride – Reimbursement for School Bus Transportation costs for student field trips to the Pine Bush
• Land Protection – Assistance to the Commission by funding back taxes or other fees associated with adding land parcels to the preserve.
• Stipends for education/science interns
• Co-sponsorship of a monthly lecture series
• Special programs, e.g. Pine Bush Perspectives Photo Exhibit, Student Symposium, Big Birding Day
The Friends is a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) organization formed in 2005 for charitable and educational purposes. Friendship levels are considered not to be a tax deductible contribution. However, 100% of charitable donations are tax deductible.
The Friends is a nonprofit organization that works cooperatively with the Commission to further conservation and education within the Preserve – especially through organized activities and programs of the Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center.
Pine Bush Alerts
January 12, 2023
As part of the ongoing preserve-wide trail reconfiguration the trails are being adjusted in the Great Dune region of the preserve. In conjunction with the habitat restoration tree thinning, the current blue trail is being eliminated and the yellow trail is being rerouted to start at the Great Dune trailhead. These adjustments, to be completed by late spring 2023, will make for a less confusing visitor experience while also creating larger disturbance-free areas for wildlife. Thank you for your patience during this transition time.
November 30, 2022
Preserve Management: Tree Thinning
The entire Kings Highway area, as well as part of the Truax Trail Barrens, will be CLOSED for the next several months, starting on Monday December 5th. Tree thinning will be taking place on 109 acres and will require closure of trail head #9, the entire red loop, and the portion of the green trail west of the powerline.
Click here if you need a mobile friendly version of our trailmap.