DOVER TWP. — Don’t have time to hike the scenic trails in the Pigeon River Country State Forest? Don’t worry.
Thanks to the HeadWaters Land Conservancy, a 40-acre preserve just west of the Pigeon in Dover Township opened to the public this year and features two short hiking loops.
The Sturgeon River Preserve pays tribute to Rusty Gates, an avid Sturgeon River fisherman and area environmentalist prior to his death in 2009. A handsome sign at the entrance on Whitmarsh Road identifies the preserve and honors Gates.
A nearby hardwood sign provides a trail map to the Sturgeon Trail, which was developed by Boy Scout Josh Lange as an Eagle project through Troop 53.
The nearly one mile of trails cut through a forest of mostly cedar and tamarack, and is bordered on one side by the Sturgeon River and a small stream on the other. The easy hike features a diversity of upland and lowland ecosystems.
The low-impact preserve encourages hiking, snowshoeing, bird watching and tree and plant identification. To date, 121 native species have been identified, and the preserve provides habitat to many native birds, animals and reptiles.
To access the Sturgeon River Preserve take Old 27 North to Whitmarsh Road and go east three miles. A small parking area is available for vehicles while you venture through this little Otsego County gem by foot.