The Albany Pine Bush, otherwise known as Pine Bush, is a vast inland pine forest centrally located in the counties of Albany and Schenectady in New York’s Capital District. The large pine barren was formed millennia ago after the glacial Lake Albany drained. Once spanning over 40 square miles, the Albany Pine Bush is the only remaining portion of a pine barren that has not been developed yet and is described as being one of the finest examples of an inland pine forest or otherwise known as a barren, on the planet. The remaining sections of Albany Pine Bush consist of the Woodlawn Preserve, which spans 135 acres, and the surrounding areas in Schenectady County.

1.Natural History

Natural History
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Dating back to the end of the last Ice Age, some 12,000–15,000 years ago, the Albany Pine Bush was formed when a large glacial lake that stretched from Glen Falls to Newburgh drained away, leaving behind vast sandy deposits, which ended up supporting the Albany Pine Bush ecosystem. The area, which has somewhat diminished due to urban spread, consists of scattered pitch pines, spectacular sliding sand dunes interspersed with vast tracts of prairie grass, wildflowers, and dense shrubs. The Albany Pine Bush is one of only 20 other inland pine barrens in the world and attracts hundreds of visitors each year to admire its incredible natural beauty.

In addition to being a cultural, historical and environmental asset to the Capital District, the Albany Pine Bush has outstanding biological significance due to its unique ecosystems and diverse array of rare fauna and flora. The pine barren is home to the wild blue lupine, a wildflower that attracts the critically endangered Karner Blue butterfly, while the scrub oaks are home to another important insect called the inland barrens buck moth. Other wildlife species that call this exclusive area home are the spadefoot toad and the eastern hognose snake. Despite its small size, the Albany Pine Bush is home to no less than 45 species that are on the ‘endangered list,’ including 15 types of bird, 14 amphibians and reptiles, and 16 insect types.

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2.Activities and Attractions

Activities and Attractions
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The gently rolling sand dunes and unique vegetation of the Albany Pine Bush offers an array of activities for visitors to enjoy from hiking and picnicking to bird and wildlife watching. The Discovery Center is a new interpretive center where visitors of all ages can learn more about the unique environment of the Albany Pine Bush and the important ecological role it plays in the area. The state-of-the-art, LEED Gold-certified ‘green’ building features a variety of interactive and interpretive exhibits, as well as numerous programs on the ecology, natural history and cultural history of the unique terrain.

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3.Visitor Information

Visitor Information
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The Albany Pine Bush Preserve and its nature trails are open 24/7, year-round. The Discovery Center is open daily during the week from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm and on weekends from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

The Discovery Center also offers an array of educational programs, projects and experiences for all ages, ranging from public and school programs to guided hikes, lectures, and after-school programs. Focusing on the Albany Pine Bush Preserve's natural history and geology, public programs are led by professional experts in the field and include historical tours, insect investigation, native plant landscaping, and snowshoe exploration, historical tour and much more.

School programs bring nature alive with outdoor classroom experiences where children learn about the environment, the fauna and flora that live within them and the importance of conservation. Special Interest Group Programs cater for scouts, playgroups, community groups, and other special interest groups, and include topics such as bird watching for beginners, plant identification, snowshoeing, night hikes and more. First Friday Hikes offers a 60 minute guided walk through the Preserve at lunch time on the first Friday of every month during which interesting aspects of the area will be discussed.

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Six Mile Waterworks Park, 195 New Karner Rd #1, Albany, NY 12205, Phone: 518-456-0655

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Things to Do in Albany, NY: Albany Pine Bush