Downybrook Nature Reserve, formerly Eldrett Bird Conservation Area
Info: This nature trail was created in 1976 by the Eldrett sisters (Helen and Mary) over the span of thirty years and donated in 2015 by the Eldretts to the Ontario Bays Initiative.
They did an immerse amount of work on their own before it was handed over to the OBI.
It consists of 184 acres of land, with trails, bridges, birdhouses, ponds and marsh areas, woods, fields and many animals of all sorts as well as a unique Alvar community. Downybrook is an official Backyard Wildlife Habitat as recognized by the National Wildlife Federation and is also recognized as an official Wildlife Refuge by the National Campers and Hikers Association. With the help of the Soil and Water Conservation Department and a grant numerous ponds were added as well as thousands of trees.
The trail is grass and dirt with some raised wooden bridges, easy walking and a great view of nature.
It can be quite muddy in the Spring and Fall.
Trail Warning! We have been told that a visitor to this trail has found the ‘trail is fairly populated with wild parsnip weed which is highly toxic if touched. It is considered invasive and highly toxic.’ Please keep an eye out but enjoy the trail.
Here is the DEC website on Wild Parsnip.
Directions/Location: 24353 Perch Lake Road, Brownville (Watertown address), NY.
From Route 12 North (Outer Bradley Street Road) head north approximately five miles from the border of Watertown (railroad tracks/Route 81) and watch for the Jefferson County Recycling Center, over the next hill is Perch Lake Road on the left. Go up Perch Lake Road just under three miles and watch for the Downybrook Trails sign on the right and small parking lot.
If coming from Brownville go out Washington Street (which turns into Military Road) and watch for the Perch Lake Road on the left. Continue northward on the Perch Lake Road for approximately .7 of a mile and watch for the Downybrook Trails sign on the left and parking lot.
There are two parts to this trail with multiple sections. One trail is directly beside the parking lot, the other section is a short distance up the road heading away from the direction of Brownville/heading northeasterly. You can walk up the road a short distance from the parking lot or take the trail section that parallels the road from the parking lot until you get to the gate, go out the gate onto the road and walk a short distance to the trail entrance signs up the road.
Click “More options” to be taken to a Google Directions Map or Click Here.
|Downybrook Nature Reserve (Parking Lot & west-side trail)|
|Downybrook Nature Reserve (east side trail)|
Trail Distance: It depends on the trails sections, anywhere from a short distance to 3.5 miles or more if you cover all sections on either side of the road.
Date/Time Open: Sunrise to Sunset.
Mountain Biking Allowed: No.
Hiking/Walking Allowed: Yes.
Cross-Country Skiing/Snowshoeing: ? Probably.
Fishing: ? Probably not.
Pets Allowed: Yes. Clean up after them.
Built on Former Railroad Bed: No.
The below is the official OBI trailmap (photo from trail sign) from the trail on the parking lot side.
The below is the official OBI trailmap (photo from trail sign) for the other section across and up the road:
Special Instructions/Information: On the parking lot side watch for trails that continue onto neighbor’s private property, at one point there are trail markers that say “Boundary”.
Some sections can be VERY muddy during wet times of the year.
Dogs must be leashed, no motorized vehicles or hunting.
For More Information and Trail Maps: Ontario Bays Initiative, Inc.