James Ramsay Hunt & Mary Welsh Parker Sanctuary

Halloween Penant by Holly Ellerbush

Bedford & Lewisboro, 338 acres, 5 miles of trails

This sanctuary is the crown jewel sanctuary in Bedford Audubon’s sanctuary network. The largest sanctuary in our holdings, Hunt-Parker boasts a well-established trail system through a variety of habitats.

Hunt-Parker’s shrub lands, wetlands, and fields create a beautiful landscape that hosts a rich variety of birds, butterflies, dragonflies, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. Red-tailed Hawk, migrating American Kestrel, Great Blue Heron, Song Sparrow, and Tree Swallow are just a few of the many bird species that inhabit our shrub lands and wetlands, feeding on insects and plants, and nesting in vegetation or provided bird boxes.

Green Frog, Painted Turtle, and Northern Water Snake reside in the wetlands, where they prefer the saturated grounds bountiful with aquatic insects and leafy vegetation.

The fields of Hunt-Parker accommodate admirable butterfly and dragonfly species such as the Great Spangled Fritillary and Cabbage White butterflies along with Eastern Forktail damselfly, and Halloween Pennant dragonfly.

Hunt-Parker is also home to a variety of mammals such as Eastern Cottontail, Red Fox, Eastern Coyote, and Southern Flying Squirrel.

Bylane Farm and the Leon Levy Native Garden are co-located with the Hunt-Parker Sanctuary.

Tufted Titmouse by Holly Ellerbusch

Tufted Titmouse by Holly Ellerbusch

Conservation

Westchester Land Trust and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection hold easements on the property to ensure a lifetime of habitat conservation.

Hunt-Parker also serves as living laboratory for conservation research. It’s home to our Monitoring Avian Productivity & Survivorship (MAPS) study plot, and we work with our partners like the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, Teatown Lake Reservation, Mianus River Gorge, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to learn more about the birds, mammals, and plants and how best to protect them.

As part of our 3-year Strategic Plan we are developing a comprehensive Sanctuary Management Plan for Hunt-Parker in 2017 to prioritize habitat restoration, monitoring, and trail projects.

Hit the Trails

We rely mostly on volunteer trail stewards to maintain our hiking trails. Our partners at the New York New Jersey Trail Conference provide free training and organize volunteers.

If you’d like to become a volunteer trail steward, please email Todd Isberg.

Story Trail

The Story Trail at the Hunt-Parker is a perfect destination for families with children ages four to seven. Constructed by a local Eagle Scout, the Trail loops through gently rolling terrain along a mowed path, ideal for younger children and toddlers in backpacks. The Trail is located on the south side of Todd Road.

It’s more than just a walk. The Story Trail combines nature observation and literacy. The story progresses with the Trail, with two pages of the story at each stop along the half-mile Trail.

Our current story line-up is:

  • Autumn “One Small Place in a Tree” by Barbara Brenner
  • Winter “Goodbye Geese” by Nancy White Carlstrom
  • Spring “Mama Built a Little Nest” by Jennifer Ward
  • Summer “Brother Eagle, Sister Sky” by Susan Jeffers

Thank you to Little Joe’s Coffee & Books in Katonah for their support of this Eagle Project!

Leave No Trace

The Sanctuary is open seven days a week, from dawn to dusk.

Use your best judgement regarding inclement weather, including the risk of wildfire.

Stay on marked trails to prevent damage to sensitive ecosystems.

No dogs or other pets allowed. We do love dogs. But dogs, even the most well-behaved, pose a threat to ground-nesting birds and other wildlife. There are many local dog parks where you and your furry sidekick can safely hike and play.

The Sanctuary is for passive recreation. This includes walking and hiking, birding, photography, and nature appreciation and study. No bicycles, snowmobiles, ATVs, or other motorized vehicles are allowed.

No collecting.

Report any trail problems to Tait Johansson.

History

The original gift of land was made to National Audubon, in memory of James Ramsay Hunt, Jr., the son of famed neurologist James Ramsay Hunt, was born in New York City in 1909. He graduated from Yale University and served in the Navy, leaving the service with the rank of Lieutenant Commander. After holding the post of Deputy Chief of Counterintelligence for ten years at the Central Intelligence Agency, he retired from the CIA in 1969. He resided in both Katonah and Sarasota, Florida until he died of cancer in 1979.

The Sanctuary was transferred from National Audubon to Bedford Audubon in 1990.

In 2001, Mary Welsh Parker of Katonah made a generous donation of 120 acres to Bedford Audubon, directly adjacent to the Hunt Sanctuary, forming the 338-acre James Ramsay Hunt & Mary Welsh Memorial Sanctuary. Mrs. Parker’s donation also included Bylane Farm, a 1730s farmstead now used as Bedford Audubon’s center of operations, as well as a stone barn, greenhouse and toolshed, and cottage.

Directions to the Sanctuary

Hunt-Parker is accessed from either 35 Todd Road (north), 36 Todd Road (south), or from a gravel pull-off on North Salem Road in the Town of Bedford.

Todd Road North Trail Head
(Town of Lewisboro)

  1. From Route 35 take Route 22 North towards Goldens Bridge.
  2. Todd Road will be your 4th right.
  3. Bylane Farm is located about a half mile down the road, where the road surface changes from dirt to pavement.
  4. Look for a small historic white sign on the left side of the road.
  5. There’s a small gravel lot just past the building.
  6. An entrance to meet with Staff is located at the top of the stone steps that begin to the left of the garage.
  7. For all other purposes, please enter through the Leon Levy Native Garden and ring the bell at the front door.

The trail head for the Pond Loop Trail (0.3 miles) is accessed directly from Todd Road, east of the small gravel lot next to Bylane Farm.

Todd Road South Trail Head
(Town of Lewisboro)

  1. From Route 35 take Route 22 North towards Goldens Bridge.
  2. Todd Road will be your 4th right.
  3. Bylane Farm is located about a half mile down the road, where the road surface changes from dirt to pavement.
  4. Look for a small historic white sign on the left side of the road.
  5. There’s a small gravel lot just past the building.
  6. An entrance to meet with Staff is located at the top of the stone steps that begin to the left of the garage.
  7. For all other purposes, please enter through the Leon Levy Native Garden and ring the bell at the front door.

Turn right up a steep gravel drive, a small grassed lot is available immediately on your right. Overflow parking is available in a grassed lot at the top of the hill, on your right. Look for the informational kiosk and picnic area, both constructed by a local Eagle Scout. The trail head is beyond the kiosk, between the stone barn and the greenhouse.

Todd Road North Trail Head

Todd Road South Trail Head