Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge

Location: Basom, New York

Webpage: National Wildlife Refuge

General Description: Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge encompasses over 10,800 acres of several large pools separated by dikes.  Most of the refuge, except for the nature trails, is closed to the public from March to October to provide undisturbed nesting and feeding habitats for birds and other wildlife.  Each year at least one of the four large pools is drained to allow restoration of the marsh. The varied habitats support approximately 266 species of birds, 42 species of mammals, plus reptiles, fish, amphibians and insects. Bald eagles have maintained an active nest on the refuge since 1986.

Brochure

Impressions:

1) Be sure to visit the Visitor Center at the NWR offices.  There is a small gift shop and a small number of interactive exhibits.  You can hear sounds of the marsh, learn about their management strategies, and the migratory birds you can find on the refuge at different times of the year.

VisitorCenter

2) Along with the a few observation platforms , there are a few nature trails and roads that can be explored.  From the Cayuga Marsh Overlook you can just pick out the bald eagle’s nest and if you are lucky you might even see an eagle.  There are also the Ringneck Marsh Overlook, the Schoolhouse Marsh Overlook, and the Mallard Overlook on each of the four main pools.

3) The Kanyoo Trail is two loop trails, 0.66 and 1 miles in length, give visitors view of mixed woods and vernal wetlands, along with a short boardwalk on the longer trail through a portion of the marsh.  We found these trails to be easy hiking through the western New York woods and the transitional zone into the marsh.

DriedMarsh

4) The Swallow Hollow Nature Trail is a 1.3 mile loop around a small marsh with elevated boardwalks and gravel paths.  There are interpretive signs and a phone tour available that describes the sights and past management, such as the remnants of a Norway spruce Christmas tree farm (the trees are now very big!).  Especially with the elevated boardwalk that covers over half of the trail, this was a leisurely trail giving views of the bottomland hardwood and marsh environments.  This is a favored location to view and hear the many warblers that migrate through the refuge, however, we were too late in the summer for the warblers.

WetMarsh

5) The Onondaga Nature Trail is along a 1.2 mile (one-way) dike through the Onondaga Marsh and into mixed mature hardwoods and plantations that predate the refuge.  We did not take advantage of this trail.