The Albany Pine Bush is an inland pitch pine scrub oak barrens. This inland pine barrens habitat is similar to coastal pine barrens found in New Jersey, Cape Cod and Long Island. There are less than 20 examples of this habitat in the world. This is one of the best that remains.
It was formed at the end of the last ice age—20,000 years ago. As a mile high glacier melted, a giant lake formed here (over 190 miles long!). Scientists refer to this lake as Glacial Lake Albany. Glacial Lake Albany eventually drained and the sandy deposits on the lake floor (laid down by the ancient Mohawk River) were blown into sand dunes which were ultimately colonized by plants. The Pine Bush once covered over 25,000 acres. Now there are only 6,000 acres remaining, 3,200 of which are protected by the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission.
This gently rolling sand plain is home to a variety of rare plants and animals, including the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly (size of a quarter). The Pine Bush is home to more than 45 Species of Greatest Conservation Need of the 538 found in NYS (over 8%) and of the 146 found in the upper Hudson River Basin (nearly 29%). It Includes 15 birds, 14 reptiles and amphibians, and 16 insects. That’s amazing for such a small semi-urban preserve. Mammals you might see: Deer, Coyote, Chipmunk, Red Fox, Fisher. Birds to look and listen for: Great horned owl, Turkey, Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, Golden-crowned kinglet, Eastern towhee. Reptiles & Amphibians that live here: Hognose snake, Spotted turtle, Spadefoot toad, Jefferson salamander, Smooth green snake. Invertebrates you may recognize: Deer ticks, Antlions, Inland barrens buckmoth, Monarch butterfly.
This dry, sandy area is a fire dependent ecosystem and needs periodic burning to survive. The Commission uses carefully set controlled burns to mimic the effects of natural wildfires that can no longer occur due to the development of the area. Click here to watch a video about prescribed fire.
The Preserve has about 18 miles of official multiple use trails for passive non-motorized recreation. Uses include hiking, running, bird or wildlife watching, mountain biking, horseback riding, hunting and fishing.
Hunting is a traditional and legal activity in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve regulated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Hunting is an important wildlife management tool. During your visit, you may encounter hunters on the trail during open seasons. There is a hunting brochure available in the brochure rack and all information can be found here.
The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission was created in 1988 by the NYS Legislature to protect and manage the Albany Pine Bush and provide the public with educational and recreational opportunities. The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission is a New York State public benefit corporation that works with its member’s agencies and municipalities to promote its mission, including the Department of Environmental Conservation, Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, City of Albany, Towns of Colonie and Guilderland, Albany County and The Nature Conservancy. The Commission is not a non-profit but works cooperatively with the non-profit organization, Friends of the Pine Bush Community, Inc. to further conservation and education within the Preserve. Donations to the Friends are tax-deductible. Funding for the Commission comes from the NYS Environmental Protection Fund, endowments and other public and private support. Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission staff are employees of the Commission. Staff are not New York State employees. The Commission is a participating employer with New York State for employee benefits.
Friends of the Pine Bush Community, Inc. is an incorporated “501c3” membership organization formed for the purpose of supporting the activities of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission as stewards of the Preserve. There is a donation box in the gift shop. Find more information about becoming a member here.
In an emergency please call 911.
If you would like to report a rules violation or non-emergency problem, please call the NYSDEC dispatch center 1-877-457-5680. They can deal with any issue of any kind.
The Preserve trails are open year round, 24/7.