Great 8 Challenge – Indian Creek Nature Center in Rensselaer Falls

The weather forecast predicted a sunny day, but it was drizzling when I arrived at the Indian Creek Nature Center near Rensselaer Falls, in Upstate New York. I was a little disappointed, I would have liked to continue my Great 8 challenge hikes under brighter skies, but hey, I was still excited to explore a place that I had never heard of before.

Especially since this time I was venturing a little further from the Canadian border. After all, that’s what the Great 8 Challenge is all about: discovering little-known places in St. Lawrence County, the largest in New York State!

The Indian Creek Nature Center is located within the Upper and Lower Lakes Wildlife Management Area. The center borders flooded land between the Oswegatchie and Grasse rivers, designed to improve habitat for waterfowl. There are several kilometres of trails that seek to give a good overview of these wetlands.

Indian Creek Nature Center
A rainy hike in Upstate New York!

Observation Tower Trail

I decided to start with the Observation Tower Trail, because who doesn’t love observation towers? I figured the observation tower would give me a good first overview of the surroundings, so I headed in that direction.

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The Observation Tower Trail loops about 1.3 kilometres (0.8 miles) on a fairly wide, and grassy track. The observation tower is located halfway through the loop. From a height of 6 metres (20 feet), it offers a nice view over Lower Lake and its wetlands. It is apparently a great place to watch birds during spring and fall migrations, but under the summer rain, the lake was pretty quiet.

Lower Lake
It probably looks better when it’s sunny, but still impressive

The Observation Tower trail then took me back to the parking lot.

Boardwalk and Observation Deck Trail

As its name suggests, this 1.6-kilometre (1-mile) trail includes a wooden boardwalk and an observation deck. It is also considered accessible.

I really liked the long boardwalk, which allows you to closely observe a pond, where I saw a few herons under the gray sky. There are several interpretive signs along the boardwalk, describing the surrounding environment.

Indian Creek Nature Center boardwalk
Who doesn’t love a pretty boardwalk?

After the boardwalk, I continued to follow the trail through the forest, following the directions to the observation deck. The trail took me to the edge of the marsh, but I had to turn back when I lost track of the trail in the cattails. I looked around for a few minutes, but I did not find the observation deck which was apparently supposed to be there… I bit disappointed, I continued with my hike.

Indian Creek Nature Center
No observation deck, so this is the view I get of the marsh

PS – By browsing through the nature center’s website once back home, I learned that the observation deck is currently closed for repairs. That’ll teach me to do some research before exploring a new place!

Lowland Trail

The Lowland Trail was my favourite of all the trails hiked on that day. 2.5-kilometres (1.5-mile) long, it loops through a lowland forest habitat, and at times very close to the marsh.

I liked its winding course under the pine trees, its boardwalks which allowed me to keep my feet dry and the pretty views it offers on the marsh.

Lowland Trail in Indian Creek Nature Center
Now this trail has some views on the marsh!

Upland Trail

The Upland Trail is the longest trail in the center. It is almost 5 kilometres (3 miles) long and connects the western sector to the eastern sector of the center.

I found the hike there a bit more challenging. Some sections were a bit muddier, and the rain made the boardwalks a little slippery. My original goal was to follow the entire trail (to get all the way to the east end of the center), but I turned back halfway through when I came to a boardwalk that was completely covered in brush.

Upland Trail in Indian Creek Nature Center
Can you see the boardwalk?

There is another trail at the Indian Creek Nature Center, the Wildflower Loop, located in the eastern sector of the center. It can be reached either by following the Upland Trail or by driving to the Eastern Entrance of the nature center. As I wasn’t able to complete my hike on the Upland Trail, I decided that I would drove to the Eastern Entrance in order to get to this trail. In the end, I completely missed and drove by the entrance without seeing it. I found myself in another sector of the wildlife management area, where there were no trails and rather than driving back and try to find the Eastern Entrance, I decided to put off this last trail to another time!

So it was a hike that was not totally perfect, but which allowed me to discover another interesting place! Looking forward to the next Great 8 Challenge hikes!

Great 8 Challenge hikes done so far:
Robert Moses State Park
Wilson Hill Wildlife Management Area

6 comments

  1. Sorry to hear that the weather wasn’t the greatest, but good for you for still lacing up your hiking boots and hitting the trails. Your pictures look beautiful with the gloomy skies. I’m such a fan of boardwalks and marshy areas.

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